#hearLDSwomen: “Wait Here, Please.”

By M

We had recently moved to a new area, where we knew no one and no one knew us. So imagine my surprise, a week after moving into a new congregation, when the Bishop asked if he could meet with me after church. Assuming this would be a typical “getting to know you” conversation for our family, I dragged my husband down the corridor with me. As we reached the office, the Bishop exclaimed, “Oh good, I needed to speak to your husband anyway” and invited him into the office, closing the door on me. I was left standing shocked in the corridor.

When the door re-opened a couple of minutes later, I could tell from the look on my husband’s face that I wasn’t going to be happy. The Bishop explained that he had just needed to have a word with my husband to ask if he could extend a calling to me.

That’s right—my Bishop invited my husband to have a conversation about me, an adult woman, with me standing on the other side of the door. (My darling husband later told me he had responded with his typical dryness, “I don’t know, ask her yourself. She’s standing right outside.”)

During the meeting, I pushed back as to why the Bishop had felt that he needed to ask permission from my husband to offer me a calling, and why he felt compelled to leave me standing outside. He explained that he believed he was required to do so; it was respectful of the husband. He was utterly bemused, and also a little amused, that I might have found this disrespectful.

That day was a turning point for me in my relationship with feminism with the church. I don’t blame the Bishop; I believed then and still do now that he was doing the best he could with what he thought he had to do, given his inadequate training and support. But our systems simply devalue women and their voices at every turn. Adult women, married or single, are viewed as an appendage to their husband or father.

With hindsight, I wish I had kicked that door open and marched into the room to pull up my own seat to the table. Since then, I have kicked hard at every single door I have been asked to wait outside.

M lives in a small corner of Europe, up a hill, near some sheep, with her children and her lovely other half. She spends most of her time reading, and the little that is left, teaching and doing laundry.


Pro-tip: Speak to women directly when extended a calling to them. Respect women as individuals in their own right.

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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4 Responses

  1. Diana Villafane says:

    Thank you for telling us of your experience. I am glad you were not cowed into accepting the patronizing thereafter.

  2. SC says:

    Our branch has a policy of not extending any callings to women without first obtaining their husbands’ permission. I have complained to stake leaders about how demeaning this is, but stake leadership are so far away from our building and visit so rarely that they seem uninclined to do anything about this anytime soon. I noticed that single sisters’ fathers are consulted before they receive callings too, but those without any kin at church are honored with receiving a calling without any male middlemen. So I would need to divorce my husband, feud with my family, and move far, far away from my hometown in order to receive a calling without the church asking the men in my life for their permission, first. And don’t even get me started about the way our stake doesn’t let women speak in stake conference unless standing beside their husbands, but the men get to stand alone. I have visited other stakes where women speak while standing alone! I Thought my stake was being backwards, until the seminaries/institutes broadcast where I noticed that speakers’ wives always had their husbands besides them as they spoke…apparently my stake is taking a page out of some SLC playbook

    • m says:

      I’m single and live states away from the rest of my family, so no one has asked my father about a calling since I was a newly-returned missionary (and it turns out he was stellarly unhelpful by not telling them that I was headed off to grad school within a month). I agree it’s incredibly demeaning and backwards looking.

      I hadn’t realized how progressive my last ward/stake in NC were by asking women to speak, lead, pray…until I moved back to the west.

  3. Mary says:

    I’ve been through this and I know of people who’ve pushed it by insisting the bishop find the place in the handbook that says this is the procedure. It isn’t there. Unfortunately, it will probably require your husband being the one getting in their faces.

    Very glad I’m officially inactive.

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