Sunday, 30 March 2014

The false ideas driving the Ordain Women movement.

I guess you would nearly have to be living under a rock to not know that for a couple of years the group Ordain Women Now (OWN) has been pushing for the ordination of women to the Priesthood. I would like to add my two cents to the discussion, commenting on some of the foundational beliefs. I don't necessarily mean what they say their beliefs are, but rather what their actions show their beliefs to be.

False Belief #1
Being equal requires being the same
If equality is a function of being the same, then equality is an impossible objective.  Everbody is unique, that is a fact, so any form of equality among people requires accepting the truth that people can be different and yet equal.  Two people may be of equal weath, but one has his wealth invested in the stock market, the other has built his own business from the ground up, or own vast real estate holdings.  Two people can be of equal intellect, but one has a Phd in medicine and the other in engineering, or another may have dropped out of high school to create world changing inventions.

In terms of our worth to God, and his love for us, we are all equal.  He has made it clear many times in scriptures that he is no respecter of persons, yet some are born to wealth and others to poverty, some into a free nation and others under tyranny.  Some are born in an age with air conditioning, computers, and refrigerators, others lived in far more primitive times.  Some are blessed greatly, or called of God to be a prophet, or required to pass through the furnace of affliction.  We are each given a unique mortal experience designed around our unique nature.

In terms of our potential we are equal as well.  We all have the potential to become celestial beings endowed with glory, power, dominions and eternal life.  Yet there will still be differences between men and women even in the Celestial Kingdom.  More on that later.

Believing that equality requires sameness is not just false, it is a dangerous ideology.  The pursuit of such an impossible goal leads to frustration, anger, blame, contention, and division.  None of these are fruits of the spirit, these are the fruits of Satan.  Did not Satan's plan attempt to artificially enforce sameness on all of us by stripping of of our freedom to choose to be different?

False Belief #2
Being denied ordination to a Priesthood office is an affront to the dignity of women 
Dignity is a popular word with social activists.  It makes it easy to brand anything somebody finds unpleasant as being wrong, simply because they find it unpleasant. When used in that way however, its not a person's dignity that is wounded, but their pride.

Pride carries with it a sense of entitlement to outward signs of respect or acceptance.  It is the antithesis of humility and as President Benson so aptly put it, enmity with God.  Is this not what we see from OWN?  A prideful push made in the hopes of a self aggrandizing ordination, striking an adversarial posture against the Church with stunt protests and providing the media with ammunition they can use to undermine the respect for the Church in society?  In their aggressive quest for what they call dignity, they sacrifice their real dignity.

Real dignity comes from within.  It comes from knowing that you are worthy of respect, and conducting oneself with confidence and poise.  It does not demand, protest, or agitate to be given honors.  Nobody can take that kind of dignity away from you.

False Belief #3
The rules for ordination to Priesthood offices are flexible
One thing members of OWN will point to is the revelation given in 1978 that extended the Priesthood to all worthy males regardless of their lineage. They suggest that this indicates that the rules for Priesthood ordination are flexible and 'the time has come' for another revelation to extend it to women as well.

What they miss is that right back to the early days of the Church it was known that the ban on ordaining blacks to the Priesthood was temporary.  Brigham Young said "the day will come when all that race [blacks] will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have."  The extension of the Priesthood in 1978 was not a change, it was the fulfillment of a prophecy made long ago (and such a prophecy would not exist if the ban was motivated by racial hatred, but that is a topic for another day).

When President Kimball and the other General Authorities went to the Lord about allowing the ordination of blacks, they were not taking it upon themselves to try and see if it was OK to modify the Church to bring it into line with societal attitudes.  They were acting out of a knowledge that this was something that God said would happen some day, and they were moved to check if the time had come.

There is no such prophecy that women would be ordained to the Priesthood, so the nature of asking for such a thing is very different.  The Priesthood is not flexible, it is God's, and if there is to be some change like that he would have said so just as he did with respect to extending the Priesthood to blacks.

False Belief #4
Change can and should be effected in the Church through public pressure campaigns
A big part of their campaign has been pulling stunts like showing up at the Conference Center for the General Priesthood meeting so they could be turned away, then run to the waiting microphones of the media to act hurt, surprised, and shocked that they were denied entrance even though they knew well beforehand that that is exactly what would happen. Likewise on a smaller scale are requests for other things they know are not permitted, like participating in the blessing of children, then again using the refusal to fuel media condemnation of the Church.

I think the intention is to mirror the passive resistance tactics of Ghandi, however Gandhi was standing up against real oppression.  The consequences he faced for his passive resistance were harsh, even brutal, and so they evoked the sympathy of reasonable people which was why it worked.  It is pretty hard to feel sorry for somebody because they show up at a meeting for men and find the seating is reserved for men, and it becomes harder still when they could easily watch the same meeting live at a local chapel, or in the comfort of their homes over the internet.  Reasonable members of the Church will not see cruel oppression, but agitation by a radical fringe.  The overwhelming majority of women in the Church have no desire to add the responsibilities and duties of the Priesthood onto their already full plates.

Naturally the liberal media is happy to give these women a spotlight and use their stories as a jumping off point to cast the Church in a negative light, something OWN doesn't seem to object to.  In fact it appears to be exactly what they want.

How does deliberately provoking media attacks on the Church and fueling criticism, dissensions and conflict within the Lord's kingdom fit with keeping one's gospel covenants?  It doesn't. That is not building up the kingdom, that is a form of persecution or bullying the Church, and it treads close to evil speaking of the Lord's anointed.

If somebody truly believes that the prophet leads the Church by revelation, they would not resort to a campaign of public pressure.  They say on one hand that they just want to encourage the prophet to seek the mind of the Lord on the matter, but in their actions they have taken a hostile, adversarial stance that will do more to create contention than curiosity.  It also puts the Church in a position where they know if they create the impression that these tactics work it will encourage every other fringe group in the Church to imitate them.

But every one of them has access thru prayer to God, and if they really believe God is directing the Church, wouldn't it make sense for them to take their case to Him directly?  Do they not believe God will hear their prayers?  Do they not believe that if God really does want women ordained that he is capable of making that known to the prophet?  Based on their actions they seem to lack faith in that approach.

Likewise, the recent letter issued to the leaders of OWN through the Public Affairs Department of the Church commented on their plans to repeat their antics at the next General Preiesthood meeting saying:
Activist events like this detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at General Conference. Please reconsider.
OWN has indicated that they will ignore the Church's request to confine any protests to the areas designated for it and instead repeat their stunt.  This is not the actions of the faithful obedient, this is the behavior of the proud and rebellious.

False Belief #5
There is no doctrinal reason to deny women odination to Priesthood offices, it is just a tradition.
The recent letter also states:

Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His Church.
That ought to be enough for them to completely disband, if their intention was to submit to the will of the Lord.  Instead the brush off the letter demanding a personal response from the prophet.

The Lord has already spoken on this.  Doctrine & Covenants Section 20 speaks of the ordination to various office of the Priesthood saying:
11 Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old;

38 An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize

60 Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.
This is the Doctrine & Covenants, there is no cultural bias affecting the translation of some ancient language here.  In fact when it talks of people being baptized in the same revelation it includes both genders saying "calling him or her by name"and "immerse him or her in the water" (verses 73-74).  The lack of female pronouns in reference to Priesthood offices is deliberate and meaningful, and it is directly from the Lord.

Also, a part of the Priesthood is the right of presidency

Doctrine and Covenants 107:8
The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things.
But then we have:
Moses 4:22 (Gen 3:16)
Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
While it is true that in times past men have used Gen 3:16 as an excuse to exercise unrighteous dominion over women, that doesn't make the verse meaningless.  Given that the Book of Moses is a product of modern revelation and it matches what is said in Genesis on this point we can have confidence that it is accurate as well.

The idea of a woman being ordained and granted the right of presidency, power and authority over all the offices in the Church in all ages of the world is completely at odds with what God declared to Adam and Eve.

Further light can be obtained on this in the temple.  Women make a covenant in the endowment men do not make, men make a covenant women do not make.  Men are set apart to become one thing, and women are set apart for a different calling.  It's easy to miss the difference if you don't listen for it, but it certainly is relevant to the Priesthood being reserved for men.

Men and women, while equal in their value to God are also different and are called to serve God in different ways.  It is God's Priesthood and he has given men the privilege of holding it.  Not because women lack ability but because it is God's wisdom to call women to another role in His kingdom.  It's fine to wonder why that is and seek to understand the mind of God better in this matter, but trying to bully the Church or embarrass it into changing is a path that will eventually lead to apostacy and excommunication if pursued to it's natural end.  Hopefully the women of OWN will come to realize this sooner rather than later.

There is a lot more that can be said about this.  Here are some links to what other LDS Bloggers have said:

Linda & Richard Eyre:
Women and the priesthood in Mormon theology

The Life and Times of an Exceptionally Tall Mormon
Wanting Women to Receive the Priesthood is an Inherently Misogynistic Idea

At the End of the Day I'm another Day Older!
Sometimes you just gotta scream into a pillow.... 

That's what she said...
Why I'm not and won't be a part of the "Ordain Women" movement. 

Lemmony Things
The Mormon feminist protest: And why I won’t be there


Addendum (April 6th):
Elder Oaks' talk in Saturday`s Priesthood session of General Conference did a wonderful job of laying out some key points:

  • It is the decree of God that Priesthood keys and offices are only to be given to men
  • Women operating under the direction of Priesthood leaders are exercising priesthood authority
  • Men and women are equal with different responsibilities
  • Our focus should be on fulfilling the responsibilities we have, not on trying to claim a right to what responsibilities wish we had.

In other words, OWN got their answer.  Not the answer they want, but the answer that is true.  If they truly do sustain the leaders of the church (including Elder Oaks) as prophets, seers and revelators, then they will accept that and disband.

Sadly they have already said they will continue to push for what they want and this moves them further into the realm of apostacy and rebellion.  They say they won't be trying to push their way in to the next General Priesthood meeting but their leaders are still flirting with excommunication by rallying other members against the leadership of the church.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great post. When I watched the broadcast of the Women's meeting, I saw an amazing group of girls/women, heard powerful messages and testimonies, felt the Spirit and saw devoted leaders of Primary, YW and RS. It felt sad to me that anyone could feel that this group (including all those watching) are somehow not complete or that they are lacking in any way because they do not have the priesthood, that somehow all that wonderful work being done by women is somehow inferior.