#hearLDSwomen: My Bishop Asks My Husband for Permission Before Extending Me a Calling

I was not offered a calling without my husband in the room to give his consent, and then he was given callings without a chat with me.
– Sherry Andersen

 

I married when I was 32. The bishopric came over to give us their congratulations on our marriage. I was then asked to do a calling. But before he asked me, he asked permission from my husband of two weeks for me to have a church calling AND asked him if it was something I could do.
– Anonymous

 

I had a bishop who would always ask my husband if I could accept a calling before asking me, but my husband never needed my permission to accept his callings. Luckily for me, my husband always replied, “That’s not up to me. You’ll have to ask her.” Fortunately that was only one bishop. No other bishop I have had has operated that way.
– Anonymous

 

Shortly after we were married, a bishopric counselor in our new ward called my husband and asked if we’d speak in church. He asked my husband to tell me to speak for 10 minutes, and he asked my husband to close the meeting and speak for 15 minutes. I felt like a youth speaker.
– ElleK

 

My father was told several times that he wasn’t given bigger callings because my outspoken, feminist mother “wasn’t supportive enough”.
– Nancy K.

 

I have been issued and have accepted callings verbally, but because my bishop was unable to contact my husband, I was never set apart or fulfilled the callings because the bishop was unable to receive my husband’s permission for me to perform them.
– Anonymous

 

Pro Tip: Respect women as fully autonomous beings. Do not ask husbands for permission before extending callings to their wives. If you would like to extend a calling with both spouses present, ensure that you do this for callings for both men and women.


Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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5 Responses

  1. PP67 says:

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves! For the first 15 years of our marriage we moved quite often. It seems like every time we would move into a new ward I would get called into the Relief Society presidency. It happened 4 times. Each time they would go to my husband and get his permission first. Yet when my husband got called to be Scout Master time and time again, which meant he was always gone on camping outs, I was never asked if it was OK. I hated having him in Scouts! We only had daughters so it made me mad he always spent so much time with them and not home with us helping me with the kids. We never had family around where we lived to help us. The last time he was called I went in with him because I just knew he was going to get called into Scouts. He did. I was so mad! They never asked me first. I stormed out of there. The member of the bishopric never said maybe this is not a good idea. All he was worried about was getting his callings filled. I was also mad at my husband for saying yes. But he was always raised to never turn down any calling. I was young and put up with it then. Boy, I won’t now! I wish I had learned to set boundaries in my life many many years ago.

  2. DB says:

    Does anyone know if there is anything official about this practice in the Handbook, if there ever was anything official about this practice in the past, or is it just a cultural practice handed down from bishopric to bishopric? I ask because the practice seems to be widespread but very inconsistent. I’ve never been asked first for my permission for my wife to receive a calling but I have been asked concurrent to the calling being extended to her if I would support her in the new calling. She has also been asked if she would support a new calling being extended to me. Other times I haven’t been asked anything when she is given a new calling.

  3. anon says:

    All I was able to review are the current Handbook 2 (revised 2010) which is on lds.org, and Handbook 1 (2006). Other versions are difficult to find on the internet due to the church taking legal actions against copyright and intellectual property rights infringements. Neither handbook requires spousal permission. The only permission that is required is of youth – “When a young man or young woman will be called to a Church position, a member of the bishopric obtains approval from the parents or guardians before issuing the calling.”

    Going back at least 30 years I was told by bishops, stake presidents, and mission presidents that the policy was to ask a husband’s permission, if the husband were not a member of the church, for his wife to be baptized or to receive her endowment in the temple. The rationale was that the church did not want to cause marital divisions and wanted to ensure the husband supported the wife. But, I have never read any official policy as such, it was just hearsay. I have no idea if this was applied in the other direction.

    I think asking a husband for permission for a wife’s calling is more cultural, even if based on the principle of ensuring the calling does not unduly burden the family; but clearly the practice is not consistent, either across wards or genders. In my 20+ years of marriage my wife has had at least 10 different callings. Never was I asked for my approval before hand. Only a few times was I even invited into the room when the calling was extended to her, and I was asked if I could support her in her new calling.

    I understand the practice is pervasive though, even if not uniform or consistent, or official. But I think it is changing, mainly outside the orthodox corridor, and amongst the younger generation.

  4. Chiaroscuro says:

    I have had this happen to me several times, where the bishopric asked my husband’s permission/approval for me to be called to various callings BEFORE the calling was extended to me. when he was called to the bishopric and as the HP group leader I was asked to come with him but only asked if I could sustain him in that calling

  5. Julie says:

    I remember seeing in on my parents getting callings and for most of my life it was both parents being asked for either one accepting a calling. This makes sense to me as a family unit that both would need to be willing to support each other. I also remember having a distinct memory of a letter bishopric coming to the house to offer my mom a calling and my dad leaving for an errand and telling the Bishop “she knows what she can handle” when Dad was asked to stay. Extend callings as individual or as a unit, but don’t treat husbands and wives differently

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