The Golden Rule

Thank you for your feedback. I have finalized the report and sent it to my stake president. I am pleased to report that he has agreed to send it on to General Authorities. The original text of the post is below for historical purposes, but the final version, incorporating  feedback I received from Exponent readers and others, is available at

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Christ taught the Golden Rule: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men [or women] should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew 7:12) However, some church policies, administered by men, exempt women from protections that men themselves enjoy.

A bishop may not excommunicate a man, but he may excommunicate a woman.  It takes 15 individuals to excommunicate a man, several of which are assigned to “stand up in behalf of the accused, and prevent insult and injustice” (D&C 102) but only four men are required to excommunicate a woman, none of which are under any obligation to advocate for the accused woman. [1]

Church policy calls for pregnant women to be disciplined more strictly than other people who commit the same sins—including the men who impregnate them. Disciplinary councils for adultery and fornication are optional–unless the sin is “widely known.” Unlike a man’s paternity, a woman’s pregnancy will be widely known.

A man is never required to confess to a member of the opposite sex about personal issues such as his underwear and personal chastity but a woman is interviewed exclusively by members of the opposite sex. Church policy dictates that only men may call a disciplinary council, staff the council, and judge the outcome but both men and women may be summoned to disciplinary councils.  While men are tried by peers of their own sex, women are tried exclusively by people of the opposite sex.

The Church recently ended a policy of refusing to hire women—but not men—with children under 18 and firing female seminary and institute teachers for giving birth. “This change makes it possible for families to decide what best meets their needs as it relates to mothers working while raising children,” said the announcement. [2] However, a similar policy continues to forbid American and Canadian mothers with minor children at home from serving as temple ordinance workers while no such restriction exists for fathers.

Male widowers may be sealed to their second spouses for eternity in the temple, while female widows are denied the opportunity to be sealed again during their lifetime without cancelling their sealings to their departed husbands—a traumatizing option to a woman who loves both her departed husband and new husband equally.  Such restrictions may limit the courtship opportunities for widowed women, since a man who marries a widowed woman will likely have to forgo the opportunity for a temple sealing.  Since deceased women may be sealed to more than one man, there does not appear to be an eternal doctrinal imperative for differential treatment.


[1] These policies differentiate between Melchizedek priesthood holders and other members. Virtually all men who have been active LDS church members for any portion of their adult lives are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. All women are banned from the Melchizedek priesthood. Hence, with a few exceptions, these polices discriminate solely on the basis of sex.

[2] New change allows young moms, divorced members to teach Mormon seminary, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11/14/2014.

This post is a section of my draft policy analysis, a Values-based Approach to Woman-friendly Policy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have completed as much policy research as I can alone and now I am asking for feedback from the Mormon community before I finalize and submit the report. All draft sections will become available at the following links when they are posted:


Charlotte du Val d'Ognes by Marie Denise Villers, Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Introduction


800px-Andrea_Solario_002 Womanhood
The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet Opportunity
Jesus and the Canaanite Woman by Mattia Preti Communication
The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch The Golden Rule
The Woman with an Issue of Blood by James Tissot Protecting the Vulnerable
Esther Denouncing Haman by Ernest Normand Transparency
Jesus Tempted by Carl Heinrich Bloch Agency

Policy Suggestions

Family Portrait by Lavinia Fontana Introduction

Missionary Work

Youth Programs

Women’s Programs

Church Participation

Priesthood Interviews

Callings & Employment

Leadership & Policymaking

Temple Worship

Gynecologic Health

Church Discipline

Access all posts here.

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at

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7 Responses

  1. Olea says:


    Thanks for sharing all this, April. It’s wonderful, and so are you.

  2. HOA says:

    Single men over the age of 30 cannot be ordinance workers at the temple but single women have no age restriction. Divorced women can be ordinance workers but divorced men cannot….even if they are temple worthy. Divorced men cannot be Bishops for divorced women can be RS presidents. Single dads don’t have visiting teachers for support with their children including female children but single moms have home teachers who take sons to father son activities. Men cannot teach primary classes alone but women can…young men can’t teach primary when RS has a special activity but young women can. These are all things that my divorced brothers who were emotionally abused by their wives experienced….just saying. The assumption that divorce is always the guy’s fault isn’t true….but we don’t talk about that in church.

  3. Joanne says:

    Church policy forces my husband to remain sealed to his ex-wife until she remarries in the temple (she will never remarry). This has always been a heavy emotional burden for me to bear. I always feel that she is somehow part of our eternal marriage. To me, it feels intrusive and even adulterous. These inequitable temple policies need to change!

  4. Ziff says:

    Great points, April. The “widely known” one particularly gets me. Like, we’re just going to write this rule as though there were no imbalance in how the mother and father can be identified in a pregnancy, and pretend that it’s fair. Right. Ridiculous.

  1. August 30, 2015

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