A Public Service Announcement for Bishops and Stake Presidents

Dear Bishops and Stake Presidents,

disciplining a woman for her opinions about patriarchyYou’re just trying to help. (I think.) You don’t want to push people out of the church. (I hope.) Maybe you haven’t even realized that your well-intentioned efforts at soul-saving are going awry. It’s understandable. You’re just following the Handbook. If you’ve never had the uncomfortable experience of having opinions that clash with those accepted by most Mormons, it may be hard to empathize with people who do. And if you have never experienced doubt, how can you possibly know good techniques for managing a faith crisis?

I have insider information that may be useful to you. I have been talking to people in your stewardship—you know, those souls you have been trying to save. And you’re doing it wrong. I know I’m being blunt but someone had to tell you! I figured you would want to know. After all, your intentions are (probably) good and you wouldn’t want to continue these self-defeating tactics if you only realized how much harm you’re doing (assuming that the harm is unintentional). I’m here to help.

People have told me about you—how you have been releasing them from their callings, taking away their temple recommends, giving thinly veiled talks in which you encourage ward members to ostracize them under the guise of “avoiding bad influences,” maybe even going so far as to forbid them from taking the sacrament or contributing to Sunday School class discussions.

I think you think you are doing this for their own good. Maybe you believe that somehow, striving your hardest to make church a completely hostile and punitive experience for these folks will inspire them to conform and take on “better” opinions, repent of their thought-crimes, and merit Celestial glory.

But let’s be rational here! You want them to come to church, right? You want them to have uplifting, spiritual experiences? And yet, you’re not facilitating spiritual experiences! You are making LDS Church participation the least uplifting activity they could undertake. If they go to another church, or to the mountains, or stay home, they are more likely to be spiritually fed than if they continue to present at your ward. You are going out of your way to deprive struggling people of spiritual nourishment.

When your parishioners talk to me about you, they don’t say, “Now that my priesthood leaders have made church such a Hell for me, I feel much better about the Church! My concerns are resolved and my testimony is renewed!”

What they actually say is, “Now that I can’t even [serve in my calling/go to the temple/take the sacrament/whatever else you’re depriving them of] I am wondering if it is time for me to leave the Church.”

Maybe a woman in your ward is concerned about the patriarchal structure of the church. Maybe she even wants the priesthood. It’s a position you’ve never found yourself in, since somebody just went and ordained you when you were 12 and you never even had the opportunity to want the priesthood before it was thrust upon you. Of course you can’t understand her point of view! But you want her to be happy with the Church as it is…so you punish her?

Repeat after me: “Being grounded by a male priesthood leader does not make a woman feel better about patriarchy!”

Let’s say you take away her temple recommend for having the “wrong” opinion. Up until now, she has met all the temple worthiness criteria, but now she realizes that even if she complies with the rules, she will not get the spiritual reward granted to other members of the Church. She might reasonably wonder, why should I continue to a pay tithing to a church that only lets men count and distribute funds? Or wear the masculine undergarment that men have mandated that I wear? Or attend weekly meetings presided over by men? Her compliance may slacken.

That’s when you may feel justified. You might say, “See! I knew it! She is spiritually weak!” If she were really righteous, she would have stood firm. She wouldn’t have run, just because you chased her out.

Now stop yourself and think again. You have an important stewardship. Will you use it to chase people away? Remember that Christ said, “Come unto me.”

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is an advocate, mother, professional, lover of the arts, hater (but doer) of housework and seeker of truth. Podcast: Religious Feminism Podcast Twitter: @aprilyoungb

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75 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    “When your parishioners talk to me about you, they don’t say, “Now that my priesthood leaders have made church such a Hell for me, I feel much better about the Church! My concerns are resolved and my testimony is renewed!””

    Yes. Yes. Yes. The best thing a leader can say to someone who is struggling with faith or with the status quo is, “I don’t have the answers to your questions. I too hope for change. But what I do know is that there is a place for you here and we need you.”

    • Caroline, thank you so much for your valuable comment! With the Handbook focusing mostly on punitive measures, priesthood leaders need other ideas about how to handle situations like this.

    • Dave Sneddon says:

      My favorite scripture ever Alma 37:11 – Now these mysteries are not yet fully made known unto me; therefore I shall forbear.

      Poor leaders or managers in or out of the church lack patience and feel the need to DO something, even if they don’t understand what or why. The only tool they have or know how to wield is punitive. We need a lot more forbearance.

  2. Ziff says:

    Great post, April. This in particular struck me:

    “Maybe a woman in your ward is concerned about the patriarchal structure of the church. Maybe she even wants the priesthood. It’s a position you’ve never found yourself in, since somebody just went and ordained you when you were 12 and you never even had the opportunity to want the priesthood before it was thrust upon you.”

    This was very much my experience. Excellent point. Men raised in the Church probably don’t even know what it’s like to want the priesthood.

    And as to your major point, amen! I wonder if priesthood leaders who respond to women with concerns by punishing them are just scared and defensive and it’s the natural response to lash out. I wish more of them would listen to your advice.

  3. Em says:

    I appreciate this. I was sort of expecting hostile comments already. But I appreciate that what you’re underlining is not actions that make you unworthy according to the handbook, but rather having alarming opinions. My bishop really hesitated about renewing my TR when I told him The Policy was really hard for me, and actually the temple ceremony was also hard for me. I still haven’t gone to the SP to finish the process.

    • Thank you Em, for sharing your experience. A number of male priesthood leaders have told me that women are never punished for their opinions. The punitive policies of the Church can make it difficult to talk about our experiences but we need to do it so that eventually, people will recognize the problem and work toward change.

  4. Libby says:

    YES to all of the above!

  5. Rob Osborn says:

    You could take this approach with anything contrary to revealed doctrine and still find the same problems. The prophets and apostles are humble men led by God. The revealed word of God is that on this earth at this time, only worthy males are to officiate and hold the keys of the priesthood. We are not sure why this is, it just is. If you want to join the OW movement, as that is where your heart is, then by all means do it. But don’t sit on the fence and make a mockery of God’s holy priesthood.

    • Kevin Winters says:

      Yet if people didn’t actively and vocally question the racial priesthood ban, change wouldn’t have happened (at least not as quickly). That was also (it was said) based on revelation (though no such revelation could ever be pointed to) and was never going to change on earth (though the leaders were open for it changing in heaven).

      Furthermore, look at your own priesthood: what would you do to be able to serve God in that capacity? Aren’t the young men constantly told that to hold the priesthood is a precious gift? But when a woman yearns to serve the children of men in the same way, it is a “mockery”? What is that all about?

      • Andrew R. says:

        “and was never going to change on earth”

        Wrong! BY said it would change, but there were conditions that would have to be met.

        However, women were not banned from holding the priesthood, they do not need to hold the priesthood. It is not an ordinance of salvation for women. It is for men, those denied the priesthood, and temple blessings, could not progress until the ban was lifted. Sister in Zion can most certainly progress, and without the priesthood.

        It is simply not the same thing.

      • AM says:

        This is a reply to Kevin. BY said the ban would end when “the last posterity of Abel had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth.” So, exactly how did that happen in 1978? SWK certainly never said anything about it. Do you think the earth is redeemed?

      • AM says:

        I’m sorry. That was a reply to Andrew. I’m getting old.

      • Kevin Winters says:

        Andrew: and how is it that women are exempt from the “ordinance of salvation”? What does it do for men that is unnecessary for women? And where on earth are you getting this notion?

      • Rob Osborn says:

        Are you an active LDS?

      • Kevin Winters says:

        Rob: it doesn’t matter. Either engage my reasoning or move on.

    • sister survivor says:

      The prophets and apostles are humble men led by God.

      Except for when they’re not. That’s why there’s something in LDS scripture about how “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

      Please note that the word of God doesn’t say, “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of A FEW MEN WHO ARE NEVER ACTUALLY GIVEN CALLINGS IN THE CHURCH, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” Nope! This tendency to exercise unrighteous dominion applies to “almost all men.”

      Please don’t pretend otherwise. It makes a mockery of God’s holy priesthood.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        The prophet and apostles do not exercise unrighteous dominion. Holding and exercising the priesthood in humility, charity and love is not unrighteous dominion.

      • Kevin Winters says:

        Rob: so the Brethren are perfect and never err? And they stand in the rare company of not being “nearly all men”? Where are you getting this strange doctrine?

      • Andrew R. says:

        Kevin Winters:- “and how is it that women are exempt from the “ordinance of salvation”?”

        They are exempt in that they are not required to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in order to move on and receive the endowment. They can receive all the blessings of exaltation without have to enter into the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood.

        “What does it do for men that is unnecessary for women?”

        You would have to ask God for an answer to that question. I am a man and I hold the priesthood. I know that holding it allows me to grow, and move towards my potential. My wife doesn’t hold the priesthood and I know that she too is growing and moving towards her potential. I also know that we do it together. But how that works, and why it is different, I do not know because I only have the one perspective.

        “And where on earth are you getting this notion?”

        Are you serious? It is how it is.

      • sister survivor says:

        “And where on earth are you getting this notion” [that the prophet and apostles are immune from the temptation to exercise unrighteous dominion]?

        Are you serious? It is how it is.

        Then WHY do our scriptures say otherwise?

        Are you suggesting that God and Joseph Smith didn’t know what they were talking about?

  6. EmilyCC says:

    This is perfect! I would add that it can also serve as a public service announcement for family members. One of the hardest times I had to stay active was when I found out so many thinly-veiled Facebook critiques from extended family members were directed at me as a way to save me.

    • Absolutely EmilyCC! I think it is a very toxic part of our culture that we try to punish each other into conformity, even within our own families, and good intentions do not yield good results if the techniques are counterproductive.

  7. Bonnie says:

    I’m pretty sure you plagiarized this from me. I’ve had all these thoughs, just not as eloquent as what you wrote. Fantastic post.

  8. Erin says:

    So much yes.Thank you. Especially for this line: “Or wear the masculine undergarment that men have mandated that I wear?” This is exactly how I feel but have never been able to put it into words. Very few things make me feel less feminine and divine than my garments.

    • Erin, if you type “garments” into our site’s search box, you will find many comments from women who empathize with you! This is certainly an area where a female perspective is needed in the church.

  9. Jenny says:

    Excellent post April! You expressed so perfectly to church leaders what so many of us wish they could understand.

  10. Andrew R. says:

    I am sorry, I find this sort of post offensive to so many hard working bishops and stake presidents. The implication is that none of them is capable of using the Spirit of discernment.

    Yes some have made mistakes. Many have not. In my stake I know of not one single sister who has been treated in the way you seem to believe sisters are treated – even when they have expressed some fairly different view points. (this knowledge comes from serving at both ward and stake level – currently as stake clerk, ie the person who would be asked to cancel a recommend)

    Sure, they may be problems like the ones you imply in some areas, but as a World Wide Church this is not the case.

    • Andrew R, I am glad men like you and Rob Osborne are reading this. Mormon men who rotate through Church callings of punitive authority but don’t recognize that the system has any problems are exactly the people who need to spend some time learning about another perspective.

      • Andrew R. says:

        April, I have a wife (of 30 years), four adult daughters (two of whom are married in the temple) and two teenage daughters. Additionally I have a mother, mother-in-law, sister, five sisters-in-law, one ex-sister-in-law and 4 nieces. All are members, most are endowed. Two are less active.

        None has ever had a serious problem with a bishop or stake president. The post comes over as though no bishop knows how to deal with women in the Church – which is simply not true. In fact, most bishops probably have more problems with the men they oversee than the women.

      • Kevin Winters says:

        Andrew: having many females in your life and being able to speak for them conclusively that they have “[n]ever had a serious problem with a bishop or stake president” is presumptuous. Have you asked them? Are they even encouraged to say anything when you seem to vocally express your view that no one (or at least no one who is faithful) has ever had any serious problems with their leaders. That doesn’t inspire others to open up around you, I’m sure.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        April, why don’t you just leave the church?

      • Caroline says:

        ADMIN NOTE:
        Rob Osborn, you are violating our comment policy. Asking someone why they don’t just leave the church is out of line. Stick with your personal experience and ideas, or you will be banned.

    • Amanda says:

      Andrew, your comment is so dismissive. Just because you don’t know of one single sister who has been treated the way the author “seem[s] to believe sisters are treated” – does.not.mean it doesn’t happen. I have been treated this way by members of my stake presidency. You know who I told about it? Nobody. That was a year and a half ago. And you know who I would never talk to about a situation where I felt so disregarded and demoralized? Certainly not someone like you – who dismisses the voices of women who have experienced this because you are not personally familiar with it.

      • Andrew R. says:

        I did not say it doesn’t happen. I said it is not a massive, widespread, problem. And I do not believe it is. And I do not intend to be dismissive of those for whom this has been a problem. I just feel that writing a post for “all” Bishop and Stake Presidents smacks of a belief that they are all as bad as the worst.

    • Caroline says:

      Like April, I’m glad you’re reading this, Andrew. Please keep coming and reading and learning about different women’s experiences within our gendered church system. Perhaps the women in your life haven’t had any experiences with male leadership that have made them feel demeaned, ignored, or invisible. But there are women everywhere (probably in every ward) who have experienced some of these things. As a church leader, you are in a position to deeply consider what can be done to empower women in wards, facilitate their voices and decision making, and reach out with love to those who have struggled with these issues. I hope you do so.

    • Michelle says:

      Andrew: It’s amusing that you say “In my stake I know of not one single sister who has been treated in the way you seem to believe sisters are treated” and that because you have x amount of female family members, that April’s post is inaccurate (it’s also impressive that you know every female in your entire stake and their experiences with priesthood authority). I personally know women who’ve had their recommend revoked because of their opinions. Opinions alone! In the future, when you read about and discover things you didn’t know, it’s better to learn from it, rather than deny it’s existence.

      • Andrew R. says:

        No where did I say it doesn’t happen. But the post reads as if it is endemic as a problem that Bishops and SPs are poor, to very bad, at dealing with such sisters. I do not believe this to be the case, and I trust my experience.

        Clearly there are some Bishops who handle this in a wrong way. But sending a post to all Bishops and Stake President smacks of implying they are all at fault.

  11. sister survivor says:

    In my stake I know of not one single sister who has been treated in the way you seem to believe sisters are treated

    The fact that you are ignorant of such treatment doesn’t mean that such treatment does not exist. The only thing it means for certain is that you don’t know of one single sister who has suffered in the way discussed in the OP.

    You probably should do some asking around.

    But given that you tell women who testify to you of the sort of treatment women routinely receive that they much be wrong about what’s happening–because after all the men have the spirit of discernment and couldn’t possibly screw up–it’s entirely possible that you have heard of such mistreatment and simply been unable to understand it from the woman’s point of view. And remember: the spirit of discernment can only compensate so far for an utterly closed mind.

    • Andrew R. says:

      I didn’t say it can’t, or doesn’t, happen. I said it is not widespread. The post makes it seem like all bishop are morons – and that is simply not the case.

      Of course the extension of that is that those who call them – ie the President of the Church, and Christ – make the wrong call, or fail to help them in their ministry.

      • Kevin Winters says:

        Andrew: where in the post does it say that “all bishop [sic] are morons”? I see no sign of such universalizing language.

      • Kevin Winters says:

        Andrew: is it possible for the President or the FP or the Q12 to make mistakes? How bad of mistakes can they make? Can they, per the racial priesthood ban, claim for years that something is a revelation when it quite obviously is not (see the article on LDS.org)? Can they proclaim, e.g., that Adam-God or Blood Atonement is revealed doctrine? At what point is it acceptable for a member to question the P/FP/Q12?

      • sister survivor says:

        “I said it is not widespread.”

        How on earth would you know that? People tell you that it happens, and you just say it doesn’t. So you dismiss out-of-hand evidence that it does.

        fyi: that’s a good way to be really, really wrong about stuff.

  12. Emily says:

    Andrew. R. I think it might be of use to you to listen to the experiences of the women all over the church to whom it has happened, before you say “It doesn’t happen in my area, and therefore it is not widespread.”

    I’ve lived in six states as an adult. And every single time I move into a new church unit I have to spend at least a year building up enough “credibility” through activity and contributing and trying to be a helpful, kind person, before I can even *consider* expressing many of my true feelings to my leaders (especially at a stake level where they know me less). In three stakes I didn’t dare be completely open because I saw how other sisters were punished for opinions less unorthodox than mine.

    Maybe, just maybe, women in the church who have unorthodox opinions are more aware of this phenomenon because we have to learn to survive within it in a way that you do not.

  13. nrc42 says:

    I love when men cite the fact that they are married and/or have daughters, sisters, etc. as evidence for lack of sexism or to lend credence to their male perspective. It’s like people who make racist jokes and are like, “Naw it’s cool, I have a black friend.”

  14. Maybe these women are being called to do the Lord’s work in another Mormon church. The Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship teaches that women and men are to work side-by-side, not with men ruling over women. It teaches that women are to bless the sick, ordain women to the Relief Society (rather than the organization being run by men) etc. No, we are not at the point where women can bless the sacrament, the Lord has said that we need more women leaders before further revelation can come. But, in the meantime, they can pass it – if they are deacons (the Junior Relief Society starts young women off as deacons, then they may become teachers, then priestesses). Maybe you are hearing the call, but looking at the wrong organization to heed that call.

  15. Abby says:

    I’m a woman in the church who this has happened to, by a bishop who I believe thought he was doing the right thing, but lacked this critical perspective that April just shared. I expressed my support for Ordain Women on Facebook, long before Kate Kelly’s excommunication or even their second action. My bishop called me in, told me that none of the women in his life had a problem with the male only priesthood, and was afraid I was “dangerous” to the other women in my ward. Despite going above and beyond to assure him I wouldn’t cause problems, that I just agreed I’d like our leaders to begin praying about women and the priesthood, he took my temple recommend, released me from both of my callings (including the primary presidency), took me out of the visiting teaching program (this was the most hurtful of all, which surprised me), and forbade me from giving lessons. He threatened a disciplinary council which terrified and angered me, but his five years as bishop ended before he made a final decision on that.

    The new bishop (my current bishop), approached the matter very differently. He listened instead of panicking. He decided that it had been a big misunderstanding and appealed twice to the stake president on my behalf to reverse all disciplinary actions. He went to bat for me as a new bishop, against the decision of the former bishop and stake president’s decision. It took two attempts before he was allowed to change my standing in the church back to what it had been prior, but I was irreparably damaged in their meantime.

    It is two years later and I can barely attend church. I still have episodes of unexpected crying during meetings when the wife of my old bishop stands up to give the opening prayer, or panic filled moments of anxiety when I see these men on the stand or they pass me in the hall and say “hello”. I never raise my hand in class anymore and I hide on the back row. I don’t offer to sub Relief Society or Sunday School, I don’t go to ward temple night, and I haven’t tried to meet new members of the ward after realigning boundaries a few months ago. I am not the same member I always was before.

    When I publicly supported Ordain Women two years ago, I didn’t think anything could drive me from the church that I loved so much. I was wrong. I’m hanging on by a thread and the friendship of my new bishop. I still cry about this at awkward moments. This had dramatically impacted my life, and I’m still not sure what will happen in the end.

    I would’ve said “oh, that never happens. You guys are exaggerating a non-existent problem” myself, 2 1/2 years ago. But it’s not. It happens, and more men in leadership roles must start reading and understanding the impact it has on women and their families. You can step in and stop it when you see it happening, like my current bishop did.

    So yes, men, keep reading and be willing to acknowledge that this really might be happening, and then when you see it in the future, don’t be my old bishop. Be my new bishop. Listen and try to have compassion and understanding, don’t try to force a woman’s pain and discomfort to disappear by threatening her if she doesn’t banish it. It will never work.

    • Melody says:

      Thank you for sharing here. I suspect there are many women in similar circumstances who have nowhere to go, no one with whom to share the sorrow and are ship created by leaders who are uninspired and unenlightened (and at worst, just plain cruel).

      Thank you for hanging on and staying. I hope you will have greater and greater peace as days time goes by and that you will be given opportunity to share your experience elsewhere. Bless you. I hear you.

    • ElleK says:

      Abby, thank you for sharing. Your experience is powerful and a terrifying testament that opinion-policing is alive and well in the church. Leadership roulette is real.

    • Cruelest Month says:

      Thank you!

    • AJ says:

      Your experience touched me. We have changed as a church since Joseph Smith was the prophet. The scriptures tell us not to trust in the arm of flesh, and yet as church members that is all we do (look to men). We must take the Holy Spirit for our guide and have faith only in Christ. Christ’s church isn’t necessarily this church any more. The scriptures say that to be a part of Christ’s church we just need to be seeking towards Him. It is probably for a reason that you feel disenchanted with the church. It is because things will shortly be changing.

  16. Rob Osborn says:

    I just want to ask thsee two questions- is this not Christ’s church? Why is Christ, our savior, a male?

    • sister survivor says:

      “I just want to ask thsee two questions- is this not Christ’s church?”

      Well, Jesus said that in his church, people would give away their wealth and help the poor.

      How much wealth does the LDS church have?

      “Why is Christ, our savior, a male?”

      Maybe it’s because mortal men aren’t imaginative enough to accept a female savior.

  17. ElleK says:

    April, thank you so much for your post. Weird “discipline” practices in the church need to be brought to light and then rooted out. Maybe this has already been done, but as a follow-up to this post, would Exponent consider doing a series of women sharing their stories like Abby just did? I think there’s nothing that would rebut the “this isn’t widespread” or “that doesn’t happen” (mostly male) arguments quite like real personal experiences.

  18. All the ironic parentheticals don’t reflect my personal experience. In spite of experiencing tons of sexism (and given my age, probably more than most readers here), I have rarely met a nefarious male leader. In my experience, almost all of them are just trying to muddle through the best they can like the rest of us.

    I sincerely know lots of people who do not think leaders are “doing it wrong.” They like things as they are and are very resistant to change, even though I personally wish a lot of things would change more quickly than they do. I’m sure the people talking to you feel that way, but I’m not sure that’s representative of the membership as a whole.

    Please understand, I’m not telling you that your points aren’t correct, but sometimes I think the educational efforts are more needed for the membership as a whole than to the leaders, because the leaders often respond to the membership.

    If you’ve never had the uncomfortable experience of having opinions that clash with those accepted by most Mormons, it may be hard to empathize with people who do.

    I think we run into an inbreeding problem here. Church leaders are almost always chosen from among those most in line with the powers that be. They reflect, almost precisely, their ideas and tone and focus. And those who continue to perpetuate that homogeneity are most likely to “move up” in leadership. Men who model the patriarchal leader and women who model the dutiful submission to the patriarchal leader are the most likely to continue in leadership and, therefore, most likely to come into contact with general leadership. (So, when male leaders, for example, say that women are satisfied with the status quo, it is true from their own contacts.)

    Or wear the masculine undergarment that men have mandated that I wear?

    I laughed out loud when I read this. Did you catch in the church’s garment video that they described the garments as “Similar in design to ordinary, modest underclothing…” Hahaha. What modest female undergarment looks like this from the post-Victorian era? Augh!

  19. P.S. Apparently your site doesn’t recognize HTML in the comments. Sorry if my quotes, etc. are incoherent.

  20. A* says:

    I will just say that if you are actually trying to promote change, the condescending tone of this piece will probably prevent those you are trying to reach from listening. If you are looking for validation from those who already agree, well done.

  21. Kristine A says:

    Here’s the thing that really gets me: I know several men who have studied the issue and support and believe in female ordination. They’ve told their bishops and the bishops never felt threatened enough to punish them. But if *I* were to express the same opinions we’d get a different response. Most of what I reveal about my opinions all hinges on trying not to get blacklisted: how can I testify of gospel principles in a different light that isn’t threatening (and leave the rest out of the discussion). All I know is my next temple recommend interview will be interesting.

    • Yes. I served on the board of Ordain Women for quite some time and while our ratios of female and male supporters were quite similar, female supporters were much more likely than male supporters to be punished by local priesthood leaders. I attribute this to several factors:

      1. Since all priesthood leaders are men, they might find it easier to empathize with other men compared to women.

      2. Priesthood leaders get to know their male parishioners better than their female ones, since these men have served with them in male-only callings and priesthood quorums. This camaraderie again may lead to more empathy.

      3. Men are more needed by the Church, since about 2/3 of gendered callings are for men and only men can perform important rites like administering the sacrament and giving priesthood blessings. (The 2/3 number is the ward level. At higher levels, even more men are needed relative to women.) Excluding a man through discipline can be very disruptive to a ward or branch, lowering the number of eligible men to fulfill these male-only duties. On the other hand, most wards have more than enough women to fulfill the smaller number of female roles, so excluding a woman is not such a problem.

      4. For formal discipline, policies for punishing men and women are different, with priesthood leaders allowed to punish women at lower levels of church governance and with fewer personnel than is permitted for a man accused of the same sins.

      5. Social expectations for men and women are different (as Alison mentioned in her comment above). Thus, priesthood leaders may be more shocked by bold women, and less tolerant of bold women, than they are for men who act the same way.

      • Andrew R. says:

        “For formal discipline, policies for punishing men and women are different, with priesthood leaders allowed to punish women at lower levels of church governance and with fewer personnel than is permitted for a man accused of the same sins.”

        April, this seems to be a bit of a thread for you (yes have read some of the other posts you referred me too – though not all due to time). All discipline in the Church is overseen by the Stake President. No Bishop, or Branch President may convene a DC without the permission of the Stake President. (Handbook 1 6.10.1 “The bishop always consults with the stake president and obtains his approval before convening a disciplinary council.”)

        I see the fact that only 4 men are present for a Bishop’s council, rather that the 16 required for a stake council (you may wish to amend your article where you cite 15 – you are missing the clerk) as beneficial. I would certainly prefer only 4 to hear of my misdeeds. However, any sister may object to be bishop being the judge (HB 1 6.10.1 “If the transgressor objects to the participation of the bishop, the disciplinary matter must be referred to the stake president, who convenes a stake disciplinary council.”) and the matter be heard before the stake.

      • Andrew R., I am glad to hear that you have been reading. Engaging with differing ideas is so important.

      • ElleK says:

        Andrew R., thank you for clarifying some points about disciplinary councils. I was especially heartened to know that one may object to one’s bishop being the judge at the disciplinary council. Unfortunately–and rather alarmingly–this important information is concealed in Handbook 1 where no woman has access to it. Even if abuse of power by priesthood leaders isn’t “widespread,” it still happens, and the church needs transparency in its policies to protect the vulnerable.

      • Andrew R. says:

        ElleK
        “Handbook 1 where no woman has access to it”

        There is a difference between being issued with a copy, and having access. Sisters, and a great many men, do not have access to it. I have a brother (life member) aged 48 and a brother-in-law (member since 8) aged 49 both of whom have never held a calling that would give them access to handbook 1. Neither seems worried by this notion – ie that it is a book for specific leaders.

        But you may ask to see it, and read it. The clerk’s copy (and ward and stake level) is a File Copy specifically for the purpose of being available.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Kristine. Let me start by saying I am a man, a priesthood holding one, who does not support the idea of female ordination. I can not see any doctrinal basis for believing women should ever have held the priesthood (therefore there is no ban per se). In fact I see, as stated above, that women are exempt from the need to enter into the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood. I know there are many theories for this, but none of them is probably satisfactory in explaining why, so I will comment on them. Suffice it so say, I am personally comfortable that this is the way God intended it to be.

      I do understand that some sisters feel they are missing out, others that they could do a better job than the men, others that this is sexist. I further understand, though do not agree, that some believe there could be a change that allowed the ordination of women. And I can see a case for them making their beliefs known.

      All of this I would see as fair, and correct, in the Church we have. I would not stop anyone from having a temple recommend on the basis of these thoughts, and beliefs.

      However, once a person begins to move from having these thoughts and beliefs, to trying to convey that this is what should happen, and that the church, and its leaders, are incorrect in not ordaining women I believe a boundary may have been crossed and leaders may need to consider what to do, on an individual basis.

      From what you have written I know that in my stake at least you would get a recommend. You might also receive counsel about how you expressed your thoughts. And I don’t believe teaching them in a church setting would be right – there are many things I believe that I would not express in teaching scenarios.

      I think that Ordain Women probably started out with good intentions. Having read many of their Blog posts I think they have drifted from their main aim into uncharted waters – issues of gender, LBGT, SS marriage, etc. Some of these being in direct opposition to the scriptures, church doctrine and policy. I think they have shot themselves in the foot on this one, and their Facebook page support seems to come from very inactive to completely apostate members and ex-members. None of which does them any favours.

      I am not anti discussion and debate about church doctrine. I am anti the perception that the Church is a “boys club” not being led by the Lord through Prophets, Seers and Revelators.

      • sister survivor says:

        I am anti the perception that the Church is a “boys club” not being led by the Lord through Prophets, Seers and Revelators.

        The fact that you are “anti” this perception does not make this perception wrong.

        The fact of the matter is, many members prize agreement over ethics and morality. Comments like your make that utterly obvious. You don’t mind “discussion” and “debate”–as long as everyone understand the ultimate obligation to agree with the MEN who lead the church.

        And that of course is a stance that makes discussion and debate impossible.

  22. Risa says:

    This is excellent, April.

  1. December 31, 2016

    […] 5. April’s A Public Service Announcement for Bishops and Stake Presidents […]

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