Q&A: Why aren’t Mormon feminists thrilled with the new LDS temple baptistry policy?

I have heard from many men and a few women who are confused about the underwhelming response of feminists, including myself, to the LDS Church’s announcement that youth roles, particularly male youth roles, will be expanded in Mormon temple baptistries.  I cannot speak for all feminists, but on behalf of myself, let me explain.

“But this will be such a good experience for the Young Men!”

I don’t doubt that. I  want our young men to have good experiences. Church leaders have taught that members must be given meaningful assignments in order to feel needed and engaged in the Church, and I believe them. However, passing the sacrament, scouting, and exercising the priesthood are already opportunities for Young Men that exclude Young Women, and extending additional new opportunities to Young Men that exclude Young Women (in this case, the opportunities to baptize and serve as official witnesses in the temple) increases the gender inequity in the church that already alienates so many of our Young Women.

“But the girls got a new assignment too!”

I said, “meaningful assignments.” Busywork is not equality. Female temple workers do not need Young Women to serve as their “assistants” because women do not have a lot to do in the temple baptistry; they are banned from most of the work. Women are not allowed to baptize, to serve as witnesses, to confirm, to stand in the confirmation circle, to welcome patrons to the temple, to check temple recommends, to keep records, or even to feed names into the projector.  With so many bans in place, women often sit to the side watching or receive the kind of assignment that could easily be performed by inanimate objects like towel hooks and laundry baskets. Young Women will not feel needed if their work is literally not needed.

“But this policy change is necessary! There aren’t enough adult men to staff the baptistry!”

Yes, banning women from so many assignments yields staffing shortages. But Mormon women are ready and willing to fill these roles and do the work. In fact, not too long ago, Ordain Women asked church leaders to consider just allowing women to officially witness ordinances—even if they maintain bans on women officiating. Instead, the LDS church is dealing with the shortage by opening temple baptistry witnessing and officiation to male children, creating one more venue where Mormon women are subordinate to their adolescent sons.

“But I mopped water in the baptistry once and it was a good experience for me. Why are women complaining?”

I hope we all have a good attitude when it is our turn to rotate through some of the more menial tasks associated with the work of the church. However, please keep in mind that men have the privilege of rotating while women are barred from many other opportunities men enjoy. Being permanently assigned to menial labor is different from occasionally rotating through it.

“But I asked my daughter/wife/female friend, and she doesn’t want to baptize/witness/welcome patrons/feed names into the projector.”

Then no one should make her do those things. However, that is not a good reason to bar other women who would welcome the opportunity.

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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79 Responses

  1. mraynes says:

    Yes to all of this. Thank you for writing this up so clearly and succinctly.

  2. Dani Addante says:

    I used to work in the laundry area at the temple years ago. My husband was a custodian at the temple. He finished early one day and came to the laundry area and so we were folding towels together and talking. Then a woman came in and said she had volunteered my husband to be a witness in the baptistry, and so my husband left to go do that. I was kind of annoyed and felt like I was doing the menial work. Later I resigned from working in the laundry.

    • Andrew says:

      Really, you obviously have no idea how mind numbingly boring witnessing baptisms is.

      Unlike the living ordinance of bapstim, where witnesses ensure that the proper words are used as well as the correct dunking, all you are there for is to ensure the dunking is total. And it takes two of you to be sure!

      So you sit there, watching one after the other, and apart from the very occasional opportunity to have the person do it again, you do nothing of any great worth. On the other hand, coming out of the water and not having a towel…

      I know which job I think is the more important.

      • Violadiva says:

        Gaslighting again, Andrew. Cut it out. You’re already in moderation as it is, don’t make us ban you outright.

      • Andrew says:

        Violadiva.

        Please explain what gaslighting is? I am British and it’s not a term I am familiar with, sorry.

        Since I expect it is something really bad. Let me explain.

        Sitting and watching, with another person, to ensure total immersion, may seem to those who are banned from doing it, to be terribly important work. And whilst I am not saying that it doesn’t need to be done, it is not something that should be taking the time and energy of endowed members. However, working in the laundry literally keeps the temple going.

        Now, I have not said that women should never be witnesses. In fact, I see no valid reason why they couldn’t be. In church record keeping policies if, for instance, a member’s ordination date was not recorded, or was incorrect, it only requires two witnesses to change it. And they have to be have bee at least 10 years old at the time. No gender requirements at all. If they had allowed young women to witness I would have seen no reason to think it odd. The witnesses in the endowment are male and female.

        I find it a shame that you only ever comment to me in a “slap you down” way. You never try to understand what I have written and always suppose that I am being obtuse in some way. The written medium is a very poor way to express feelings. And when done across a language (UK and US English does create a language issue) makes it even harder.

      • Sam says:

        I will be very, very interested to see if they do ban you. You’ve been the most consistent and courteous online opposition I’ve ever seen. If they can’t handle you, it speaks volumes as to their personal security in their beliefs. ‘Gaslighting’ can be stretched to mean ‘disagreeing with me,’ and ‘safe space’ can be narrowed to mean ‘echo chamber,’ but I hope this is not one of those cases.

      • Risa says:

        Do you really need to have the definition of gaslighting explained to you when you obviously have access to a computer and can Google it yourself?

      • Andrew, this blog has a mission to promote women’s voices. This manner of commenting, in which you drown out women’s voices by writing far more words than any female commenter, with most of these comments dedicated to shooting down women’s opinions, is disrespectful of the women who maintain this female space. If you are interested in learning about women’s perspectives, please spend more time reading and less time writing. If you are only interested in correcting women, this is not the right space for you.

      • Andrew says:

        April,

        You may not choose to allow this post through, but I know you will at least read it, and I don’t have any other means of contacting you.

        Just so I can get this straight in my head. Only feminist women know what’s best for women (all women, even the ones not feeling the Patriarchy). And, judging by a few comments here, they also know what’s best for men. How men feel, how men abuse their priesthood, etc.

        It doesn’t matter if the views of LDS feminists are incorrect in doctrine, or policy, because it’s about how they feel.

        You will note, I hope, that I have been quite positive about much in this thread. I would have no issue with women witnessing. But I don’t make the rules.

        People are still talking about the Recorder as if all they do is feed the names. They fulfil the responsibility given in Scripture. Whether it could be a woman, I don’t know. But it isn’t.

        You write far better than I do, and I believe that for me that is half the problem. I don’t ever quite get my meaning over in a sympathetic way. I am not a writer, I’m a computer software engineer. I am a mathematician and an analytical chemist. I have a fairly binary view on a lot of things, and being here has taught me a lot.

        I will not post again – I hate when my comments are not allowed through, for no good reason. I have been bullied away. Congratulations to all.

      • Amanda says:

        “you obviously have no idea how mind numbingly boring witnessing baptisms is.” Correct. That is kind of the point of this post in fact. Women don’t have the same opportunities as men.

    • Risa says:

      >>>I have been bullied away. Congratulations to all.

      So pointing out that you taking up most of the space in a conversation to tell women that they are wrong about their own lived experiences is bullying?

      Hang on, let me go get the world’s smallest violin.

      • Andrew says:

        “that they are wrong about their own lived experiences is bullying?”

        Never done that! Of course, it’s been implied. But I haven’t done anything of the sort. And I was referring to the entire board, not just this thread. I have been told I am wrong in my beliefs, but you are not supposed to do that – no one has ever stood up for that.

        I am also constantly told I am privileged because I hold the priesthood. I don’t believe that to be the case. I may get to do a few things that sisters can’t. However, there are plenty of things the sisters can do that I can not. I am not allowed to be in the Primary presidency or the Young Women presidency. I can not experience pregnancy or childbirth, nor can I nurse a child. Simply because I was born a man. I can be a father, but I am not so sure than being a parent is significantly different whatever your gender – expect for the procreation elements.

        My experience is no less valid than anyone else’s just because my genitals happen to be less well protected than others’. Being a priesthood holder, who takes that responsibility as he should, is not a bed of roses. And it certainly doesn’t make anyone more important than anyone else. Also, since I have a mother, sister, wife, six daughters, two granddaughters, mother-in-law, five sisters-in-law and seven nieces all in the Church I have quite a bit of experience to have been able to draw on. Of all those females only one would probably happily embrace receiving the priesthood if it happened. The others are much happier having their male family members do it all. But that is my experience. And so I enjoy hearing the experiences of others – who for the most part are in a different location to me, and closer to the “centre” of the Church.

  3. MDearest says:

    It’s hard to be proud of your humility when you’re permanently assigned to the humble work, and it’s doubly difficult when someone who isn’t in that position recommends that you be more grateful for your humble position.

    Given the scriptural and historical precedents for women witnessing ordinances, and the pressure created by the lack of qualified men to meet the need, it would be a justifiable change to allow mature women and girls to literally stand as a witness in the temple, and perhaps other places too. (As is stated in the YW theme.)
    The missed opportunity is regrettable.

  4. Andrew says:

    ” be proud of your humility”

    I’m fairly sure that’s an oxymoron.

  5. Andrew says:

    “But this policy change is necessary! There aren’t enough adult men to staff the baptistry!”

    Whilst this can be the case, I think if we look at this more positively there are other benefits. One such came to me yesterday when I was teaching Sunday School.

    If we no longer need so many endowed men and women in the baptistry they could be in the initiatory area. As the name are completed in the baptistry they could be brought to the initiatory area for performing the ordinances there – much more worthwhile work.

    One of the best ward temple days I ever had the privilege of organising was one where we had, simultaneously, members doing work in the baptisty, initiatory, endowment and sealings. We were blessed to have sufficient ordinance workers and a sealer in our ward that all ordinances were performed by ward members.

  6. Lily says:

    Whatever strong feelings you may have on traditional roles, you have got to see that the optics of this are terrible. Young men = performing saving ordinances. Young women = laundry. Somebody just didn’t think this through. Oh, and when I was 17, I would have literally stopped doing baptisms for the dead over having one of my 17 year-old classmates baptism me.

    • Andrew says:

      Young Women will NOT be in the laundry. They, together with the majority of the young men will be being baptised and confirmed (ie performing saving ordinances).

      And it isn’t a “must” policy. You could still have had the creepy first counsellor in the bishopric baptise you.

  7. Stacy says:

    Andrew, I’ve never commented on an Exponent post before, but your comment inspired me. It must be nice to sit in your piece of privilege and say that you don’t like the responsibilities that are yours by virtue of the priesthood. You are able to work in virtually any position in the temple, performing ordinances necessary for salvation, while women are in the Baptistry, doing a job that could be done by a towel rack.

    Do you have any idea how hurtful it can be to realize that at 16, my son will get to witness baptisms in and out of the temple, something that I, his mother, who grew him and raised him will never be allowed to do? That somehow he, at 16, is more worthy to witness to the Lord than I am strictly because of his gender and priesthood?

    The fact that women aren’t allowed to do even the work that you call mind numbing speaks volumes about male privilege in this church.

  8. Richard_K says:

    Andrew: Stacy is right. The hardest impulse to resist is the one to keep quiet and stay present. In fact, just by pointing out this truth, I only manage to evidence how I can’t really do it well, either. This world is overdue for men to vacate their claim to knowing what it’s like to be treated as women. I want to hear more of what Stacy and other women think and feel about who they really are, and that includes the bad and ugly of how they end up relating even to good men like you and me that they still manage to love. That narrative is their story, and women are the only ones qualified to tell it. It is our male privilege to hear and validate their stories.

    • Andrew says:

      How does that fit the other way round. Why should they be able to tell me, a man, how I should feel? They say I am privileged. But I can’t say they are because they don’t have the burden of the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood.

      As I have pointed out elsewhere – the people undertaking to receive the ordinances in behalf of the dead are the ones being blessed for their work. And that is men and women in equal measure.

      • MDearest says:

        Minor correction: Women most certainly do have the burden, as well as the blessings of the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood. Through both baptismal covenant and endowment covenants.

      • Andrew says:

        MDearest, that’s an interesting take. I wonder if you could point me to where that is made clear in scripture, or any other source.

        I ask because because the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood has always been specifically about receiving the Melchizedek priesthood.

        Yes, there are other covenants; baptismal, those made in the endowment and sealings. However, Women specifically do not receive the Melchizedek priesthood – and as such do not make the covenant made in accepting the ordination.

      • Kris Rollins says:

        I’ve heard this argument- that there is supposed to be some extra burden, and that women wouldn’t want it. What is the extra burden, and shouldn’t that be up to the women to decide for themselves if they wanted it or not?

      • Andrew says:

        Kris,

        Maybe some women would want the burden for the chance to wield the priesthood power. However, none of the women in my life want it. And, as is suggested, if a universal ban on women having the priesthood exists lifting it would mean that to receive exaltation women would have to make this covenant.

        My personal belief is that women do not make this covenant because it is not required for their exaltation. Why? I don’t know. But then I don’t know why I can’t have a small glass of wine with my dinner either.

    • MDearest says:

      I have heard this [women subject to the oath and covenant] taught in an authoritative manner in church by ward leadership. The O&C section of the D&C (121?) was deconstructed to back it up. I agreed with the conclusions then, and still do. But this is another threadjack in a comment section that’s infested with many. It’s immaterial to me if anyone agrees with this or not. Go read up on it and decide your own opinion. It doesn’t address the topic in the OP, and that’s the main problem with this comment thread— too much gaslight.

  9. lauracal says:

    I say, let all the people who don’t like the “mind-numbing” jobs get a free pass. Don’t make them sit there and feed names into a prompter. Hand them a towel and a mop. Give their “talent” to someone who’d appreciate it.

    • Andrew says:

      I have, many times, taken towels to and from the laundry. I have mopped in the male changing room. I have handed out towels. I have also wiped down all surfaces external to the font after a session. I did not feel like I was missing out.

      • Spunky says:

        Now imagine that was the only think you were allowed to do in the temple. And you do it every day at home.

        This is what is driving me away from the temple. Cleaning may draw you toward it. But it has the opposite effect on me.

      • lauracalcal says:

        Actually, Spunky, Andrew’s towel service was even more involved than the women’s towel service. Women are directed to stand in one specific spot and to have a towel ready to hand off to the exiting baptizee. They don’t take towels to and from the laundry. They don’t mop up the changing room. They don’t wipe down the font.

        They just stand there.

        Like a towel rack.

  10. mml41 says:

    Why do baptisms for the dead at all? Guess the only reason we go to the temple is to look good in the eyes of others, validating our own pride. Guess following the example of our Savior (just think if women had to wash the feet of men) in doing vicarious work for the dead isn’t as important as the number of men vs women workers in the House of the Lord. Hearts of the children turning to the fathers, indeed. How can a woman be expected to marry and have children when she’s so busy taking on the responsibilities of a bishop or stake president…or male temple worker? Let the men adopt the babies and create their own families. Women have more important stuff to do. Right, folks?

    • Andrew says:

      I am not sure I follow what you have written at all.

      However, just to clarify, women do wash men’s feet – but not in the initiatory ordinances. And they do it in order to claim their husband in the eternities – it’s a priesthood ordinance they perform.

      • Rebecca says:

        An ordinance of women washing their husband’s feet to claim them? In all my years of church membership, teaching, and learning, I have literally never heard of this. Can someone expound?

      • Andrew says:

        It is a part of the ordinances referred to as the Second Anointing. I am not sure what I can say within the policy here about such things.

        It is one of the more compelling reasons why many believe that Mary and Jesus were married. The washing of the feet is a part of the final bit and is done in private, away from anyone else.

    • RLD says:

      Rebecca – Read about the “calling and election made sure” ordinance. It can be found in early church records/journals. It’s started in the temple and completed later at a time of the wife’s choosing. Only a few get it – like the 12 & such. I will say that this and the work done by women in the initiatory proves to me that women are equal in priestess-hood before God & in the eternities. It’s human attitude that keeps us from getting there in this life & time. The attitudes shown toward this bread crumb of a “you should be happy with your place” announcement and comments I’ve read around the net prove that we are far from a more equal time in the church.
      Just as women were allowed to give blessings within their spheres in the early church – up till JFS started banning stuff in like the 40’s/50’s – we will again. Press forward, right?

      Until the majority of membership desires there will be no change. Think of the extension with the Priesthood to all men in the 70’s and the remainder of the Book of Mormon that is still sealed.

      • Rebecca says:

        Andrew and RLD, thanks for responding. It freaks me out that the only resources I’m seeing about the Second Anointing is from anti-Mormon sites. I hate that there are supposed ordinances that we are not taught about, can’t research credibly, and especially that they allow men to “claim” a woman in the hereafters. Weird.

      • Andrew says:

        Rebecca,

        They do precisely the opposite. The wife performs the ordinance, as Priestess to her husband to claim him.

        Prior to performing this ordinance she has been anointed a queen and a priestess, per the promise given that she would be if she were faithful.

      • rah says:

        Andrew,

        And “as priestess to her husband” is one of the big rubs here, just as it is in the endowment. In BY’s temple ceremony and in his teaching about it, women are priestesses unto their husbands who they are “to call Lord”. That is how it is written and that was clearly BY’s intent/interpretation. Now lots of modern Mormons can’t square this with the professed equality of men and women in the gospel, so they prefer to think of women as being initiated as priestesses to God but they do so in opposition to current wording.

        The other thing missing from this discussion is any sort of attempt to explain why women WERE allowed to be witnesses in the temple baptistry and for other ordinances in Nauvoo and in some instances up to the 1950s. The church has its own historical precedent going back to its restoration roots to open the role of witnessing to women. Yet, somehow, all the current church can do is “imagine” women helping in the laundry. That total lack of imagination to even restore participation to a generation of women, many of whom desperately want it, is a really disheartening.

      • Mike H. says:

        rah: Thanks for that, I did not know women were witnesses to Ordinances that late.

        But, Joseph Fielding Smith seemed to believe that Sacrament Meeting was a Priesthood Ordinance, the actual meeting, so women were banned from giving Invocations for it. Spencer W. Kimball reversed that, claiming no scriptural foundation for that idea.

        Yet, as far as I could tell, Baptismal services could have women give invocations in that era, even though that’s an Ordinance.

  11. Curt Burnett says:

    The Church missed an enormous opportunity to enhance the lives of men and women everywhere. We already know that adult women are, in fact, ordained to perform annointings and washings in the temple. Elder Oaks said they receive priesthood authority to perform those functions. “What other authority is there?” he asked rhetorically. Why not extend that inspired policy to women in the baptistry, imbuing them with authority to perform baptisms and confirmations? We could then avoid the awkwardness of 16-year-old boys trying to baptize females. Someone needs to re-think the policy and recognize the the fact that women already hold the priesthood, albeit on a temporary basis, in other areas of the temple.

    • Andrew says:

      You are half way to a solution. However, there is a major difference.

      The women who perform these ordinances in the temple are endowed sisters who have been called, and set apart by a member of the temple presidency, as ordinance workers. In that setting-apart they receive the authority to perform those ordinances. It is exactly the same for male ordinance workers.

      All ordinances workers therefore perform the ordinances by authority, using the delegated keys of the temple president.

      Baptisms are performed by those holding the Aaronic priesthood.

      So, the solution, giving women the authority to baptise, is to confer the Aaronic priesthood on them and ordain them to the office of Priest.

      I suppose it could be possible to set apart sisters to perform baptisms for the dead – however, this would not be universal.

    • Andrew says:

      ” We could then avoid the awkwardness of 16-year-old boys trying to baptize females.”

      Is it going to be awkward? Why? Plenty of 16 year old boys have baptised females in font across the world. And 18 year old missionaries do it even more.

      • Rebecca says:

        The awkwardness comes in many ways. Have you ever seen a teenage boy try to casually touch a teenage girl? There doesn’t have to be anything sexual about it, it becomes awkward because teenagers are awkward.

        Baptisms have to be done with physical confidence and strength from both parties, or the baptizer and baptizee both get unnecessarily exhausted really quickly. Picture 16-year-old boys in the position of the baptizer: holding her hands, touching the small of her back, guiding her into the water and back out again, making sure she’s steady on her feet, etc. Teenagers are awkward alone and they’re awkward with each other. Seriously.

        Yes, young men have been doing 8-year-old and convert baptisms all over the world at different times, but usually with people they know, family members, siblings, girlfriends, friends, etc. Not typically with other kids they’ve grown up with, people they’ve never physically touched before, tiny 12-year-olds, girls they have crushes on, boys in their scout group they tease for being gay, their “bros” from school, etc. And they have to repeat the action 5-10 times per person for 20-30 minutes? (Might be easier if the boys are just baptizing their sisters and brothers.)

        Don’t pretend you don’t know where the awkwardness comes from. You were a 16-year-old boy once.

        And this isn’t even approaching the subject of sexual arousal, which a lot of teenage boys have little to no control over, bless their hearts.

  12. c7oscuro says:

    I love the idea of opening up the position of witness to women. It is unfortunate that some men find that task mind numbingly boring, when there are women who would love to do it. Jesus Christ’s resurrection was witnessed first by women. Yet 2,000 years later women are not considered acceptable witnesses to the ordinance symbolizing resurrection. Sad.

    • RLD says:

      THANK YOU! I would add that Christ paused in the middle of the atonement to come to these women and to comfort Mary. *tips hat*

    • Mike H. says:

      I was also struck a few months ago, of how one of the earliest ministry experiences of the Savior was the Samaritan woman at the well. Samaritans were considered the worst apostates, by many of the Jews of the time. And, it was a woman! And, she was guilt of some kind of serious sin.

  13. Lazuli bunting says:

    If the priesthood is such an awful burden to you, don’t get ordained! Just because you find it onerous doesn’t mean you should deny it to those who would welcome it and its blessings. You miss the point that men have a choice. You may choose to accept the responsibility of ordination. Women may not so choose. You may choose to mop. Women may not choose to witness or baptise.

  14. Risa says:

    I just want to point out that out of 27 (now 28) comments, 10 are from Andrew. More than a 1/3rd. This is supposed to be a blog/magazine that amplifies the voices of women in the LDS Church, and yet, here is Andrew making sure his voice is the loudest. If that isn’t an excellent example of privilege and patriarchy, I don’t know what is.

  15. Tonya says:

    Hate to break it to you, honey, but temple work isn’t about you and whether or not you feel validated or equal. Every single baptism required hours of additional temple work, so stop whining and get busy with initiatory, endowments, and sealings. The young men and young women can’t do those. I have 3 young women, and, so far, it is going to take me 30 years to catch up to their baptisms. And that is 30 years of just endowments. This entire debate is designed to make women angry and keep them out of the temple, in an attempt to frustrate Heavenly Father’s plan. The millions of people waiting for their temple work to be done don’t care about your personal hang-ups over ‘gender equality’.

    • Tonya, if you are saying that the 1st Presidency made this announcement with the intention of angering women, keeping them out of the temple, and frustrating God’s plan, I doubt that. I think the slight was unintended. If you are attributing those motives to me, the author of the OP, I know for a fact that your assertion is wrong; I had none of those motives. Plus, your accusations violate our commenting policy. We do not question others’ righteousness here.

      • Tonya says:

        Nope! I’m saying, every little policy change does not require a debate, or even a reaction. Church doctrine and Heavenly Fathers plan have not changed in any way. Turning it into a debate is a distraction from what is important, which is service.

      • MDearest says:

        It’s so easy to criticize other people for things with which you don’t individually have a problem. I’m glad some people don’t have to deal with being distracted by the pain that some others feel. The road to service gets strenuous when you’re called upon to understand a perspective that’s different from your own, develop some empathy and expand your view to at least understand, if not agree.

        As well, this is not a little policy change, it’s a pretty big change for the boys. And whether you agree or disagree in the debate, it’s plain to see that this new responsibility for Aaronic priesthood holders highlights the dearth of responsibilities for adult endowed women serving in the temple baptistry (not to mention teenage girls.) And many women, with different sensitivities than yours, are troubled by that. People, especially those in leadership positions, motivated by kindness would be considerate of those sensitivities.

      • Tonya says:

        Oh! This is about women getting the priesthood. My apologies, I’ll go. Good luck ladies.

      • MDearest says:

        It isn’t about women getting the priesthood to me or anyone commenting here, as best I can recall. For me it’s a conversation about adjusting policies to allow women to do everything else that they are capable of without being ordained to an office of the priesthood. At least more than holding towels and sitting with each other. It’s seems to be an incredibly complicated topic for whatever reasons, and some folks aren’t willing to engage, I get that.

        Specifically, I think women and girls could do some of the record-keeping duties, and perhaps even serve as witnesses, since the scriptures about that are contradictory. No one here has even mentioned that girls or adult women should be the ones officiating the baptisms in the font. Though we recognize that as a possibility only through a major revelation from the Lord through established channels.

        But if you still wish to leave the conversation, you’re free to suit yourself.

      • Spunky says:

        I don’t see this as a debate. I see this as continuing to bar women from service. Imagine how much more temple work could be done if we allowed women to serve in capacities that are equal to men!

  16. paws says:

    I appreciated what Andrew said about witnessing being boring. I had never considered that before, and think I would find it boring, too. Passing out towels is also boring. I’d enjoy sliding cards through the little projector, though, and I would really like to experience baptizing.

    Now that I think about it, most temple work bores me. What I have enjoyed most is officiating in initiatories when I was a temple worker.

  17. Since 2008 most of my service in 4 temples has been in the laundry, my “celestial” room in those sacred edifices. It is the place where celebrity worship, power, status, gain, hierarchy, popularity, eminence or lust are completely dissolved in humble service, where the most tender moments of love, comfort, even grace are experienced. Women and men see what their hearts are set on.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t comment much here but tonight I am overwhelmed. All of this makes me sad. And the comments make me even sadder. I wish I felt there was a place I belonged in this Church regardless of my gender. As of now, I don’t. What makes me the saddest is the failure of both men and women in recognizing prevailing inequalities. Specific comments here remind me of why I feel the way that I do.

    • RLD says:

      *hug* I just wanted you to know that I understand.
      I don’t fit a lot of the molds in the church – introvert with anxiety, I don’t wear dresses to church (hate them), raised in a very intellectual ward (several gospel doctrine teachers at BYU), and a father who often pointed out that this life in no way reflects the equality before our Heavenly Parents – we acknowledged Heavenly Mother a lot in my home.

      May you find your footing and your own personal connection with the divine.

  19. Sarah says:

    I have never commented on here even though I check the website almost daily. I love the thought provoking discussions and sincere pleas to find peace, and will be forever grateful for the moments I have felt complete sisterhood and belonging. However, I am disappointed with how we treat those who show opposition. Although I almost always roll my eyes at Andrews comments- I also look forward to them, sometimes hearing opposition makes me more clear on what I believe- sometimes he makes valid points, either way he is usually respectful and I believe sincere in his desire to understand. I will miss his input.

  20. Karen says:

    Andrew please don’t leave. I look forward to your comments. I don’t always agree with you but for me, you bring a knowledge of the workings of the Church that I do not have. (Most of the commenters do actually.) I don’t think you are ever rude. I think your comments are sincere and as you said, you are not a writer so maybe they don’t come across the way you intend. I am with you there. I believe the comments section should allow for differing points of view. I appreciate all the views here. They help me to form my own opinion on many of the things that I feel, but sometimes question why I feel the way I do. Carry on!

  21. Lorie says:

    If Christ found it appropriate to have women first witness His resurrection, certainly having them, at the very least, witness baptism in His name seems equally in order.

    Nice job, April. Eventually, women will be ordained and serve in all capacities, and we’ll all wonder why it took so long.

  22. Mary says:

    Here’s what it says on lds.org about the change:

    “One of those ways is young women taking a greater role in helping temple baptistries function. Young women might, for example, be asked to record baptism and confirmation ordinances, greet and welcome patrons to the baptistry, issue baptismal clothing, and assign lockers.”

    I’m most interested in the “record baptism and confirmation ordinances.” What does this mean?

    • That provision is interesting! I hope they are going to expand female duties to include recording (and ideally, other work currently limited to males).

      • Mary says:

        That would be great. My fear is that this phrasing refers to taking the completed cards and transporting them somewhere else. I really hope this phrasing indeed refers to actual recording.

    • Chicago-style pizza lover says:

      After the baptism and confirmation, the card is scanned with the computer reader and the ordinance is recorded in FamilySearch. But in many of the temples I’ve been in, the recorder’s office is in an area that only endowed members can go. Maybe they are going to instal computers in the baptistry areas. (That would be helpful for those who don’t have a printer at home and need their family name cards printed at the temple.) And just to clarify, women are allowed to record the ordinances in the record’s office already. In fact, in my temple when I take cards from initiatory, a sister tin the office does the recording, I just watch.

  23. Morgan says:

    I think those who say, “but all temple work is good!” however well-intentiobed are missing the point.

    The point is those upset by this feel upset because we are being given crumbs when we are asking for meat.

    Wanna go hand out towels? Go for it. But to be told, “now any girl can hand out towels, THIS IS SO WONDERFUL AND AMAZING!” is hurtful.

    No. It isn’t wonderful. It sucks.

    I want better for my daughters. Laundry sucks no matter where it’s collected.

  24. Melissa says:

    I sometimes feel like my position in the church is like that of an over-qualified secretary with no chance of upward mobility in a company. It’s like being asked to order lunch for a meeting when I could present and said meeting.

  25. Chicago-style pizza lover says:

    First, let me introduce myself as a temple ordinance worker. A new one I might add, set apart just a couple months ago. I would have been set apart 5 or 6 years ago, but as a single man over 31, the policy didn’t allow it. However, I was able to serve as a veil worker, receiving people at the veil (something that many of the smaller temples with limited ordinance workers have.) I did this once a week for the past 6 years. The old temple ordinance workers policy did make me feel like a second class member of the church. When my stake presidency announced to my roommates and several other friends in our YSA ward that they were going to start enforcing the age limit (31), it felt like we were lined up against a wall and mowed down with a machine gun. It was a decision I knew they didn’t want to make, but felt constrained by the Spirit to do it. I know they were concerned that it might cause some of us to leave the church. I suppose the way I felt was similar to the way many affected by the restriction on baptism of children with gay parents might have felt. So, I can empathize with those who feel left out, unwanted, or as second class members.

    That said, I am surprised and somewhat saddened and concerned at the reaction I have seen by those in the Mormon Feminist community. I know that nobody here is conspiring to kill their younger brother and dad, but all this murmuring is reminiscent of Laman and Lemuel. It cannot lead to any good place. At worst, it will discourage others from making and keeping covenants in the temple and of teaching their children to make those sacred covenants. From my own experience, I know it is hard to sustain the Brethren in some things, and that sometimes their directions do cause pain. I did what I could, and prayed for peace and comfort to get me through the pains of policies and actions I did not like or understand. I didn’t murmur about it. I hope those in the feminists community will also realize that murmuring does’t bring us closer to the Savior.

    • Ziff says:

      Thanks for the empathy. But I find it really hard to want to be as categorical as you are. You’re sure that pointing out failures on the part of GAs’ policies can never lead to a good place? What if they’re wrong?

    • Violadiva says:

      Pizza Lover, welcome to the ExponentII Blog. Thank you for reading.
      Please let me acquaint you with our comment policy: http://www.the-exponent.com/site-map/comment-policy/
      Especially this part: This is not the place to question another’s personal righteousness, to call people to repentance, or to disrespectfully refute people’s personal religious beliefs.

      Several statements in your last paragraph come across as “questioning another’s personal righteousness” and as “calls to repentance.” Your personal experiences are great. Keep sharing those. Telling Mormon feminists they’re murmuring and encouraging them to cut it out is less great.

  26. Sonnet says:

    Just my take….I don’t think women being witnesses or not having the priesthood or not performing baptisms or any of that has a single darn thing to do with ‘worthiness’. We’re perfectly capable of being ‘worthy’ to do those things just as much as men. To me, it has to do with equal division of redponsibilities. Heavenly Father’s plan for most women involves them being mothers and raising kids- that is a TREMENDOUS responsibility (and a most wonderful and precious one) placed squarely on female shoulders. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, but that’s the intent. You want all of a priesthood holder’s responsibilities on top of all that? No thanks. I have enough on my plate. If the priesthood responsibilities started getting shifted onto women, how would men equally shift into taking on motherhood responsibilities? They can’t give birth. They can’t breastfeed. They haven’t generally been given the divine traits that make us good at what we do as mothers (again….there are exceptions to the rule. I’ve seen some tender fathers and some poor mothers).

    Also, I really don’t mean to be insulting to men, but I think they excel more at structured service…service dictated by a book or ordinance or assigned in some way. Women seem to excel a bit more at finding ways to serve on their own without directions. Makes sense if you think about the RS run by women. So it makes sense to put men in positions where they do structured service and open up the time of women to find their own service to do.

    Anyway. In a nutshell- we’re worthy. But we don’t have time for all that. By keeping down the number of jobs a woman can do in the temple, they’re keeping us with our kids and opening up our time to perform unassigned service elsewhere in our lives.

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