Mother in Israel, Judge in Israel

Mother in Israel, Judge in Israel

I recently had a conversation in which I expressed my hope for women to someday be ordained and serve in callings such as bishop.  I described a friend whose husband is a bishop.  They are parents of very young children and his bishop duties have made parenting difficult.  There are very few worthy men in their ward who could fill the bishop position, so it has fallen on him in spite of the hardships it brings to his young family.  I thought it would be wonderful if the bishop could be one of the worthy, older women in the ward whose children had grown up.

I was surprised by the reaction of the person I was speaking to.  She found the idea of a female bishop repulsive, even though she agreed that it would be a logical solution to the situation I described.

In contrast, I have had other women tell me that they are uncomfortable having men ask them questions about their chastity and undergarments and would be more comfortable if they had a female bishop.




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Young Women Lesson: How Do I Guard My Virtue?

Young Women Lesson: How Do I Guard My Virtue?

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français

The outline for this lesson is here and the corresponding Young Men’s lesson is How Can I Resist Pornography? Despite not including it in the lesson title, the outline for the young women talks a lot about pornography and both lessons use the same scripture sources. Keep in mind the ages and maturity of the youth you are teaching and respect the boundaries of the parents. If you are going to go in the direction of discussing pornography, I think it would be wise to type up your outline and what quotes/scriptures you will be using and send that to the parents ahead of time.

I will first give ideas for a general “virtue” lesson. After that, I’ll add “bonus” material for pornography discussion.

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“They just don’t understand”

A few weeks ago as I sat in a lesson in Relief Society, the phrase, “they just don’t understand the Gospel…” was muttered. At first, I really bristled at this trope. It seemed to be a way to suggest that the speaker was somehow superior to others who do not agree with her conclusions. But as time has passed, I’ve reflected much on this statement. For a long time, I fought it. I wished to cry, “no, no, no! I DO understand!” but the reality is that they are correct. I don’t understand.

I do not understand how gender roles are so central to the Gospel when I always thought the Gospel was the good news that Christ died for my sins, that He was resurrected, and that through Him, I may live again.

I do not understand a Gospel that tells me that my greatest calling is to become a wife and mother when I remembered Jesus telling the woman in the crowd that it is not motherhood, but hearing and obeying the word of Christ, that makes me blessed (Luke 11: 27-28).

I do not understand a Gospel that tells me the greatest use for my time and talents is in the home when it was Jesus who taught me the greater part was to hear his word and to sit as his feet in preparation to teach it to others (Luke 10: 42).

I do not understand a Gospel where I’m told that my role is separate but equal from a man’s when the scriptures teach me there is no male or female in the Lord (Galatians 3:28; 2 Nephi 26:33).

I do not understand a Gospel that was first proclaimed by a woman chosen to act as the witness to the resurrection, when 2,000 years later, I am unable to witness the baptism of a mortal in His name.

I do not understand a Gospel that tells me that my uterus defines my role with God when I was always believed God looked upon the heart, the same organ that beats in men and women alike (1 Samuel 16:7)

I do not understand a Gospel that teaches me I cannot approach God in my own right but only through my husband whom I hearken and obey.

I do not understand a Gospel that claims to follow Jesus’s teaching to leave the 99 to go after the one and then excommunicates the one, casting her out of the fold all together, after refusing to even have a conversation.

I do not understand a Gospel that teaches the importance of two-parent families, that we have loving Heavenly Parents, and then denies their daughters and sons access to the Mother.

I do not understand a Gospel that teaches me to come to know truth “by study and also by faith,” but then treats me as a cancer when I study the more troubling and difficult aspects of our faith and history and am, unsurprisingly, troubled by them.

I do not understand a Gospel that teaches that God’s ways are higher than our ways, but then practices tribalism and exclusivism in relation to truth claims and upholding the status quo, which is certainly a practice of the “natural man.”

But more than all of that, I do not understand how it’s difficult to see how in spite of all of this, I could not understand.

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Guest Post: Bald. Bald as a Billiard Ball

What's a Girl Good For_ (2)

by Emily Holsinger Butler

What is a Girl Good For?

Nice question. I wonder who was asking it back in 1968, which was, incidentally, the year I was born. Answer: everyone was asking that question. In that decade, charged as it was with the high drama of sexual revolution, the Church missed few opportunities to address the issue of what part a woman should play. However, this is the freest, frankest, most unvarnished attempt to delineate a girl’s role I’ve ever come across. It’s just so very bald. Bald as a billiard ball. And from the candy cane stripes to the nursery rhyme title, it’s a message tailored to the youthiest youth in Zion. I’ll leave it to you to read the text, but essentially it goes like this:

Girl: “What should I do with my life?

Church: “You’re not a boy!”

Girl: “Sure, I hear what you’re saying. But what’s life all about? Why am I here?”

Church: “You do not have the priesthood!”

Girl: “Right, I get that. But what I’m asking is, what’s my place in the world? How should I act?”


Girl: “Okay. Anything else?”

Church: “Um, mature in the sweet spirit of waiting upon others.”

Girl: “You mean like Cinderella?”

Church: “Yes. Precisely. Like Cinderella. Now go, and do not ask to see me again until you have done your task.”

That last part is a tiny joke–it’s a line from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And as we know, Dorothy had some work to do before she realized that the enormous (bald) Head was just an illusion.

Emily Holsinger Butler is a hausfrau living in Utah with delusions of grandeur & survival, a writer of books, a hoper of all things and a believer in several of them.

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On Mental Illness, Revisited.

RobinThe world lost a great man yesterday, to an illness that is great in its scope and power. I am acquainted with that illness and some of the frightening thoughts that come, though I am less acquainted with what makes some persons suffering from those thoughts act on them so completely.

My very first Exponent post was on the differences between mental and physical illness. I feel impressed to share it again, here, with a few additions and thoughts. Near the end of the original piece, I mentioned mostly being better and feeling better, but that there were still moments. There were and are. I am very bravely and very vulnerably going to be honest about them here, because I believe in the power of honesty, and in the power of bringing dark things to light.

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Blessed Be the Mentors


Saturday was a special day. It was the day Claudia Bushman was celebrated via the Mormon Women’s History Initiative Symposium. I was not able to attend, but I was able to sit in a seminar with Claudia and her husband, Richard, almost every day for six weeks, just a tiny bit earlier this summer through BYU’s Maxwell Institute. It was a deeply enriching experience, as I thought it might be.

Claudia added her wisdom and knowledge, her strong and honest voice, and her pleas to tell our own stories, as well as precious bits from her own. Once she shared the price of her gold wedding band ($5!). Another time she pinpointed a doctrine (magnifying your calling) that she perceived to be pernicious, with quite good, and quite funny reasons. My favorite (class) moment of all occurred after we discussed the significance of Eliza’s hymn, “O My Father.” Claudia quipped that we should all write poems about Heavenly Mother, because then they can become theology.

My favorite non-class moments were different. They were about the fact that I was in an intensive class, while caring for a (still nursing) infant in a state far away from where I live, and where my husband would be. 

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Poetry Sundays: Who The Meek Are Not



Mary Karr, Sinners Welcome

Who The Meek Are Not

By Mary Karr

          Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent
under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep
          in the rice-paddy muck,
nor the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles
          make the wheat fall in waves
they don’t get to eat. My friend the Franciscan
          nun says we misread 
that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them. 
          To understand the meek 
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
          in a meadow, who—
at his master’s voice—seizes up to a stunned
          but instant halt. 
So with the strain of holding that great power
          in check, the muscles 
along the arched neck keep eddying,
          and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order. 



Among my favorite religious poems, Who the Meek Are Not, has stayed with me since I first read it. It is one a few jewels I pull from a treasure box of inspirational writing when I become confused or wonder if my particular variety of discipleship is worthy of God’s grace.

I understand this version of meekness, the ears pricked forward, the sudden awareness of a call, the subsequent redirection of energy. Meekness can be a quiet yet powerful force running through our veins. Mary Karr and her Franciscan nun gave me permission to be a strong, courageous, vocal woman who is a humble servant of Christ. My agency–the power to choose, and to have an effect on the world–is only as useful as my willingness to surrender that power to God, to seek his will. I pray for strength and meekness every day.

How do you feel about meekness? What does this poem say to you? 

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