Guest Post: No More Fear-Driven Faith for Me!

Judy profileWe’re delighted to showcase some of Exponent II’s founding mothers and long-time contributors in the upcoming days and weeks. We look to them, those who have seen and weathered periods of apostasy accusations and members facing Church discipline, for their thoughts on the events that are taking place as a new generation of progressive Mormons search for our place in the Church.

No More Fear-Driven Faith for Me!
by Judy Dushku

After Sonia Johnson was excommunicated from my church in 1979, the women in Exponent II invited her to meet with us and discuss her views. Since we were also Mormon feminists and supported the ERA as she did, we thought it appropriate and indicative of our solidarity with many of her ideas. She came to Boston for a media event, and then came to my home for a warm and lively discussion. Laurel Ulrich later commented that Sonia seemed brittle and fearful; we were sympathetic and felt compassion.

As was the practice with Exponent II, our Board decided that we would publish an issue about Sonia Johnson’s ordeal and her views where we would invite a number of women to write their thoughts concerning this pivotal and highly volatile event. We were long-committed to that approach to controversial subjects: identify the issue, then invite many LDS women to share their points of view in our paper. We solicited opinions and soon had a paper ready to paste up for publication. On the night before we went to press, four (as best I can recall) of our number decided to have their names taken off our masthead. They did not want to be associated with an issue of Exponent II that might appear to endorse Sonia’s positions or behavior, lest we get excommunicated, too. They did not resign in protest, they said, but in fear.

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Shouldn’t it be obvious? How Mormon Women Hold and Exercise the Priesthood Today

Shouldn’t it be obvious? How Mormon Women Hold and Exercise the Priesthood Today

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormons) bans women from  ordination to the priesthood, while virtually all male members over 12 years of age are ordained.  Although this ban clearly restricts women from performing most church ordinances and disqualifies women from most high-level callings (ministry positions), some suggest that Mormon woman actually do hold and exercise the priesthood without ordination.

Temple Endowment

Some of the wording of the temple endowment ceremony seems to bestow priesthood upon all who receive the endowment, including women, but very little has been said by church leaders clarifying whether or not this is the case, possibly due to taboos against discussing temple ceremonies. Elder M. Russell Ballard recently said,

When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power. (Ballard, 2013)

But Ballard’s statement seems to contradict a statement made by fellow apostle Boyd K. Packer 20 years earlier:

Some members of the Church are now teaching that priesthood is some kind of a free-floating authority which can be assumed by anyone who has had the endowment…The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing. (Packer, 1993)

Temple Marriage

If priesthood is only conferred through ordination, women clearly do not have the priesthood. Ordination of women is banned by the LDS church. However, even Packer has suggested another way that women obtain the priesthood without ordination:

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How do women currently exercise the priesthood? (Est-ce que les femmes reçoivent la prêtrise pendant la dotation? )

How do women currently exercise the priesthood? (Est-ce que les femmes reçoivent la prêtrise pendant la dotation? )

**Le serment et l’alliance de la prêtrise. Traduction en français disponible en bas de page. French translation generously supplied by Amanda in France at the bottom of the post in English.

 

General Relief Society President Linda K. Burton has encouraged women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to learn more about the priesthood.  In this spirit, I have been studying speeches by currently serving apostles, auxiliary leaders and recent emeritus auxiliary leaders to search for answers to common questions about present-day doctrines surrounding women and priesthood.  Excerpts are included below, organized by the question they may address.

Linda-Burton-priesthood-questions copy

We rejoice that we are privileged to live in this season of the history of the Church when questions are being asked about the priesthood. There is great interest and desire to know and understand more about the authority, power, and blessings associated with the priesthood of God. It is our hope for this next sacred hour together that “the doctrine of the priesthood…[may] distil upon [our] soul[s] as the dews from heaven.” We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood.  (Burton, 2013)

Do women receive the priesthood through the endowment?

When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power. (Ballard, 2013)

We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge “armed” with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. (Dew, 2001)

Some members of the Church are now teaching that priesthood is some kind of a free-floating authority which can be assumed by anyone who has had the endowment…The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing. It has been so since the beginning. Regardless of what they may assume or imply or infer from anything which has been said or written, past or present, specific ordination to an office in the priesthood is the way, and the only way, it has been or is now conferred…Do not miss that one simple, obvious absolute: The priesthood ever and always is conferred by ordination by one who holds proper authority, and it is known to the Church that he has it.  (Packer, 1993)

Do women share the priesthood with their husbands?

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Birth/Rebirth: Adoption Story

Guest Post by Susan

My oldest daughter asked me to tell about the adoption of her sister. The names in the story have been changed to protect my adopted daughter’s privacy.

A little background of the family dynamics before I get started: my husband has one brother and one sister. His brother (John) is married to (Mary) with no children and his sister (Lucy) is not married and she had at this time 4 children living a son, and three daughters. Her youngest daughter (Anne) is whom this story is about.

I already had two children, a daughter and a son. I found out through the family that my nephew and two nieces were visiting John and Mary after Anne’s birth. It soon became known to John and Mary that the children had been abused. They contacted social services about the abuse. We all knew that Anne was living in this situation.

One night in September I had a dream that it was Christmas time. All I remember about the dream is a Christmas tree, me and a little baby girl. After waking up from this dream I had a distinct feeling, this baby girl was Anne and she was to be my daughter. We did not live close to the family, they lived on the east coast and we lived in the central part of the states. I was perplexed by how we would become her parents, but I knew it was to be. At that time all I could do was to pray for her safety and that there would be a way provided that we would have her at Christmas time. I prayed daily for her.

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Temple Issue Extras: Unveiling My Temple Marriage: A Story of Decisions

We haLogan 8X10d so many lovely submissions for our Summer 2013 Temple issue and couldn’t pack them all into 44 pages. (Order yours today to ensure that you don’t miss this touching issue.) Special thanks to Ashmae Hoiland who has allowed us to use some watercolors of temples in this series on the blog (and in the magazine). More of Ashmae’s work can be found at her website, http://www.ashmae.com/.

I always wanted to be married. However, getting married was a difficult decision. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be married, quite the contrary. After all wasn’t the ambition to marry the noblest aspiration of a young Mormon girl? In truth, I had been seeking and praying for a companion for decades—through my teen years; during college and graduate school and the tumult of my 20s; then half-heartedly into my early 30s. No, I definitely wanted to get married. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that getting married in the temple was a difficult decision. But when I found the person I wanted to be with I wasn’t in the place I thought I would be.

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