605: An Analysis of the “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women” Essay

CU050216-002sIn this episode Jamie Hanis Handy assembles an amazing panel (Natasha Helfer Parker, Dr. Kristy Money, and Dr. Gina Colvin) to discuss the recent LDS church essay entitled: “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women.”

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  1. I came away from this episode incredibly inspired. i believe that “letting your light shine” and being the “salt of the earth” means claiming the divine light within us. The gospel is as simple as that. This is why Mormonism is so unfortunate…despite the fact that EVERY SINGLE PERSON has this divine light, the church makes us believe that the world and everyone in it is evil, that the devil is in control and that we will be under his power as soon as we don’t live up to, well everything the church says we have to choose to do.

    The real question that the church needs to answer is if Satan is in control and people are so evil, why is there so much goodness outside the church?

    So THANK-YOU for this reminder to claim the divinity within me, to exercise my true agency (independent of church obligations) and to give others permission to do the same!

  2. On Authority…
    The reality about true God-given divine authority is that President Monson or any other man in the church has as much God-granted divine authority as the tree in my back yard. The only difference is that the tree in my back yard manifests its divine authority by just being what it is…a divine creation of a loving God. As humans, we have the ability to assign power and status through manipulation and fear by labeling who we choose as eligible, worthy or chosen.

    As long as we let the church assign (or not assign) divine authority to us, we make the church God, and its divine authority only then has as much divine power as a man-made institution can grant (none). If we’re like the tree in my back yard, we claim our divine authority (like the lilies and birds) as equals to others and without fear or judgement. Nobody can grant that authority to us. We can only claim it by choice.

    The assignment of priesthood power in the church completely undermines god’s plan and the divinity innate in EVERYONE as children of God. I don’t believe that any of the church leaders are ill-intentioned, but its important to call out the system of the church as corrupt. The church has taken on a significant responsibility when it claims to divvy-out God’s apparently exclusive power. When you TRULY understand that responsibility and the control and power that it wields on people (including depression, mental illness and suicide), it should try a lot harder to seek divine direction on how that authority should be apportioned.

    1. When they say a 12 year old Deacon is the head of the famiy when his father dies, what does that do to a young boy…and even to his mother. This happened to me and my father in law instructed my son to be responsible for me and his sister. I had to straighten that out fast. I told him that we would as a family take care of eachother.

  3. Do Mormons do theology? That’s a funny question to ask. We don’t even have to talk about polygamy…

    Every year, when December 25 arrives, Mormons become Roman Catholics. The current Mormon media blitz “A Savior is Born” is a positive testimony that Jesus was born on Christmas Day. The slogan never says “A Savior is claimed to be born”.

    The Mormon Church spends money promoting Christmas which is a purely Roman Catholic holy day. This date was calculated by counting nine months from March 25, the date Catholics believed that Jesus died. It was based on an ancient belief that men died on the same date they were conceived in the womb.

    Christmas used to be January 6, until the Catholics decided to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. That’s when the Catholic Christmas shifted to December 25. The Eastern Orthodox churches kept using the Julian calendar for much longer, and when they finally switched to the Gregorian, they left Christmas on January 6. So December 25 as Christmas Day is solely a Roman Catholic holy day.

    But Joseph Smith revealed that Jesus was born on April 6. If there is a date when Mormons should sing Christmas carols, it should be this date. The Eastern Orthodox churches don’t mind celebrating Christmas in January. That is what sets them apart from Catholics. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject Christmas as a pagan holiday, and that’s something consistent with the Protestant tradition of iconoclasm.

    The utter lack of consistency between belief and practice is what makes Mormon theology a fundamentally funny undertaking. Unless one sees it as the joke it is, it will drive one crazy.

    1. I don’t see anywhere other than a stretch interpretation of the Kirtland Temple dedication prayer that Joseoh Smith revealed that Jesus was born April 6.

  4. Great podcast! I am glad my wife and kids and myself have left the church we no longer have to do the mental gymnastics these fine ladies did during this podcast.

    1. Amen brother! I respect these women, but am quite perplexed as to why they are still members. Our family left one year ago after reading the essay on polygamy and polyandry. Can’t end up with a good pie if you start with rotten apples, unless you put a whole lot of sugar and spice in the mix.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a feminist, lesbian,, former member, you have to know how much this calmed my broken heart. The “testimonies” at the end where absolutely breathtaking. Thank you.

  6. Thank you to all the participants for this thoughtful, respectful, inspiring discussion into the essay. Woman’s voices come thru with a characteristic profound manner retaining reverence for humanity and society in discussion of power, authority, and history.

    In reading the essay, I too noted and was grateful for the historical context of assumption of male priesthood at the time of the restoration.

    So many of the fundemental issues the Church struggles with in this century (race, women’s equality, LGBTQA issues) are not specifically addressed in restoration canonized scripture apart from the cultural assumptions common to the time of the restoration.

    As Ordain Women’s theme repeats, we do await great and marvelous things pertaining to the kingdom of God. We see small changes that point to hope for more fundemental changes. The point that we can bring change in ourselves within our faith was very affirming.

    Although a bit controversial, I find great hope also in D&C 132:66 in which God says that more will be revealed hereafter about the laws pertaining to loving human relationships continuing in the eternities. Recent policy changes allowing women to be sealed to subsequent spouse after a spouse dies, further affirms that women are not destined to second class citizens in the eternities and like men may not have to choose which earthly relationship they will have to terminate if all consent to continue relationships formed on earth in the hereafter. When a hoped for policy change or revelation allowing humans to continue consensual loving relationships of all types in the eternities including LGBTQ relationships, then the discriminatory shadow of male only privileged polygamy will ceased to be a symbol of inherent injustice but such will challenge us to truly accept and respect the agency of other’s who may choose to consensually enter into and hope to continue loving relationships eternally that differ from the current cultural preference for heterosexual monogamy as the only moral egalitarian type of relationship. For me agency as an important principle obligates me to respect the choices of others of what type of consensual loving relationships they wish to continue in the eternities. With lifting of restrictions on relationships based on gender, sex, number, and orientation, while preserving consent of all those involved, the shadow of the past may be swept away in potential for humanity to continue important loving relationships as they wish.

    Such change in assumptions about the eternities requires a far greater challenge for most than women being ordained to orders in the priesthood or offices within established orders, but for me seem to be consistent with a God who respects individual choice and who is fair.

  7. Sister Money, you can have a baby blessing in your home, and invite whoever you want… ward members, family members, etc. (Just as you can hold a baptism in a river or a swimming pool… etc. it doesn’t have to be in the ward’s font.) This is what we did for all three of our kids. You don’t need to ask permission to hold your child when it is done in your home. When it is all done, you just report to the ward’s executive secretary that it was performed on such and such a day… and no difficult issues or problems. This is your child’s blessing, not the church’s child’s.

    1. Doubting Thomas

      We did this for our older boys and at the time it worked. I didn’t ask permission I simply gave the information to the ward clerk.

      I don’t think it would work for a baptism–especially today. Priesthood authority has to interview even the little 8 year old who is obviously worthy since he or she is not capable of sin.

  8. Gina, what you articulated near the when you quoted Rumi and spoke about breathing with and being with your body was just beautiful. That statement alone was worth the entire podcast for me. Thank you.

  9. I appreciate your bringing up the weird segregation of elders and high priests that happens in LDS wards. It’s something that bugs me and I haven’t heard it talked about much. I’m an actively attending elder who would prefer never to have a calling that requires me to be a high priest, so it’s not the hierarchy that bothers me. One problem it creates is that the younger men in a ward are deprived of an opportunity to get to know the older men in the same way that the women do. My wife knows a lot more women in the wards that I’ve been in than I know the men. How does that help ward unity? The second problem it creates is unnecessary leadership callings. I’ve been in wards where there are barely enough dependable people who could realistically fill all of the leadership callings, and yet we are supposed to have two separate presidencies just for the men. This adds one more male to an already male-dominated ward council. The church has made “policy” changes in the function of priesthood offices before, so there’s no reason this couldn’t change, too.

  10. I so much enjoyed this podcast! I often feel very lonely because I don’t have mothers or sisters or friends that allow me to sit and comfortably talk about these things. As I sat here at my desk, I felt such a feeling of being surrounded by friends that understand my spirit. It was refreshing and uplifting! I very much needed to hear all of you with like-minded thoughts to fill up my depleted soul. I have felt excessively weighted down by everything lately, and this brought back some of the hope I have been struggling to feel. Thank you so much to each of you women for your time and contributions to this beautiful podcast.

  11. Thank you ladies for this podcast. I often feel so isolated because I don’t have sisters, mothers or friends who will let me sit and discuss these things. As I sat at my desk and listened to this I felt like I was surrounded by like-minded friends who filled up my depleted spirit. It was so refreshing to be reminded that I am not the only one who feels things like this, even though some in my life act like I am. I thought you left the podcast on a positive note of hope, which is something I haven’t been feeling much of anymore. Thank you again. You all have beautiful and bright souls.

  12. You all sound intelligent and emotionally mature. What I do not understand is the purpose of the mental gymnastics.

  13. My mind went to that place where I question why we would need to be admonished to listen to our own voice. Do you suppose that culture during the reformation period did not hold very many people who thought for themselves? In order to sway the sheep, they first need help recognizing that they are sheep and empower them to become capable of making personal choices? If you look at the art of persuasion in the first paragraph of the article, again you hear the language of persuasion. Could the original doctrine not come from a divine revelatory source, but from a con artist’s tool to persuade and convince?
    Women if given the chance, would take over. And do an amazing job.
    I am like Emma Smith. I am tired. I have no desire to go to Zion or take a perilous trek west. I have no desire to extract justice or topple a dynasty. I just want to live out the rest of my life knowing I am a good person and a valuable human.
    Very insightful and articulating all the things I think. Good job ladies.

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