FACEBOOK CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN TONYA GUEST AND HER BISHOP, BISHOP RANSOM H. LOVE
Tonya Guest – May 2 · I’ve been told repeatedly throughout my life that as a woman in the LDS church that I have value, that i’m equal to a man. Why don’t I feel or see the equality? Because of satan’s subtle ways, my own selfishness, feminism? Why does the church continually need to address this if there isn’t a problem? Why is Utah ranked last in gender equality in the united states? Why am I, as a woman, not allowed to even hold my newborn baby while she is given a priesthood blessing from her father? Please stop telling me i’m an equal and show me that i’m an equal!
Bishop Ransom H. Love – I think that there are so many that do not want to respond to this post for fear of offending. Yet, they find some of the comments somewhat offensive or at least belittling to woman and men who believe differently. You ask for equality but I am not sure that is what you really want or are asking for. To you being equal is that you want woman to hold the priesthood or to be the same. Man and woman are equal before the Lord but by nature they are different. Not less but different. Does it not follow that if in nature we are different that we have primarily different roles? The Lord offers us access to the same blessings. A man cannot enter a temple without taking upon himself the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, young or old. Yet a woman can enter without it and receives every blessing offered a man. Is that equal? Is that fair? Apparently, a woman does not need it to receive everything the Father has. Why does a man? Could it be the Father has already given her what she needs to return to Him and receive all He has to offer. Men and woman have divinely different roles. Thank goodness the Church continues to change policies but not core doctrines. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is the Doctrine. It outlines the divine roles and responsibilities through which both a woman and a man can receive everything. You do not give woman or womanhood enough credit. It would appear that you want men and woman to be the same, when I believe the Lord wants us to celebrate and honor the differences, not to oppress but to bless and fulfill.
Tonya Guest – I am not sure you understand or know my beliefs of women or motherhood so it seems unfair for you to assume I don’t give women enough credit. I can see inequalities between men and women everywhere. I don’t believe that it is just a problem within the lds church. I could make a list throughout mormon history of where women did not have all the same privileges as men in the church. That wasn’t the point of my post. I am not asking that men and women be the same, I am merely sharing my feelings that I don’t have an equal voice in this religion. If God wants to celebrate and honor our differences why not allow more women to share and have more of a voice.
Bishop Ransom H. Love – Tonya you do not believe that these men are apostles and prophets of God. You do not believe that they speak the mind and will of God. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Was he the Son of God, God incarnate? We have been studying the Four Gospels in Sunday School. Have you found anything or any reference anywhere that Christ treated men and woman differently? Was Christ equal to men and woman in his treatment? If anything, He treated woman better. They were clearly among His closest of friends and associates. He even showed himself as a resurrected being to Mary before his disciples and even before He returned to His Father. Yet, not one of the 12 Apostles or the 70 He called to administer His Church and go before Him in the world anciently were woman. Not one. Was He being prejudice or bias toward woman? No! Was he afraid to change the accepted customs of the times? No. He clearly did just that. There was another reason. What was it? He was God in the flesh. How can a Church that calls itself after His name and for its doctrine claims it is His restored Church not be organized the way He organized His Church anciently? It can’t. This is not about equality. It is about truth. You can know if it is true if you will read, study and pray about the Book of Mormon. It is true. Jospeh Smith is a prophet of God. These men you speak of are prophets of God. Women in the Church do things that only paid ministers do in nearly all faiths on the earth. Do men and women sometimes abuse authority given them? Yes. Does that mean woman must hold the priesthood to be equal to men? Not in God’s Church if it is what it claims to be.
Tonya Guest –Again, it seems unfair for you to assume my beliefs.
Bishop Ransom H. Love – I will touch on one more thing you have raised which may be even more important. You have carried your children in your womb for 9 months. Your husband had to depend solely upon you and God to bring that child to light. That miracle and sacrifice of pregnancy and birth has given you a bond to that child that never will be broken. It is something a man does not have. Yet you and your children must now depend on your husband to bless and protect you and the family through the priesthood he bears. Is that how he obtains that same bond? Yet you would in the name of equity take that away? The codependency creates love, unity and respect. It creates a family. I fear that what you want is not equity, but validation and vindication. You were offend because you fill you were deceived by an organization you trusted. Unfortunately, you did not do what the organization counseled you to do, seek, obtain and maintain a testimony. You still refuse to find out for yourself. Instead, you run out and take for facts the lies, distortions and deceptions for truth. You lash out against the truth seeking others to validate you and/or in hopes of causing harm. Just as a child throwing a tantrum or an animal being prodded by a sharp stick kicks out aimlessly to seek to cause harm but often only succeeds in causing itself harm. The scriptures call it kicking against the pricks. Unfortunately, it is also the spirit of apostasy. A spirit of anger and revenge. One that will consume your soul. You seek that which is contrary to truth and you will never be satisfied. You begin to fight truth rather than seek it. Rather than being filled with the love of God and light, you become consumed by anger and darkness. Please seek truth and real answers. Do not openly allow yourself to be deceived. You have so much to offer and have so much given. Do not through it away.
Tonya Guest – Bishop L – I’m not sure how me sharing my feelings and pointing out injustices that I see is taking away the bond between my husband and our children? I am not sure how any woman participating in priesthood blessings take away from the bond of a father and child? I’m not asking for men to give women the priesthood, I don’t think they need permission from a man to exercise the power they innately have. But how does a mother or women exercising or using the priesthood power take anything away from a man? How is that changing a bond? Is it possible that the bond between the family unit could become stronger? I don’t see why the focus here is on what a man would be losing. And you are right, I was hurt by the church. But my questioning isn’t because I was offended it is because there are serious issues that I have problems with. And I did try to do what the organization taught me to do. I did everything I was supposed to do. It is possible that the problem might not be me, it could be that there are problems and issues within the church. I am tired of being told that it is me, I have the problems… I didn’t have enough faith, I didn’t pray enough, I didn’t attend the temple enough, the list could go on and on. But I did those things, I tried. But there came a point where I realized that maybe it wasn’t just me being deceived by satan, maybe there were actual issues and it was okay to acknowledge those and my true feelings about them.
Tonya Guest –Bishop L I would also like to encourage everyone to seek to find their own truth and real answers. “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
— J. Reuben Clark
Tonya Guest –Bishop L., I am also deeply offended that you are comparing me sharing my thoughts to a child throwing a tantrum. I guess when people are counseled to talk with their leadership or that it is okay to have questions those were just lies?
Bishop Ransom H. Love. – A public forum is the wrong place to have a discussion because it lacks so much context. This conversation is now over two years old not just an innocent post of an opinion. In the beginning, I spent many hours talking to you and trying to understand your opinion and the many questions you had. I spent many more hours researching the sites and books you gave me to help me understand where you were getting your concerns. I read through the sites claiming they were just innocent questions only to find the most vial lies and misrepresentations of truth. I discussed them with you. I spent hours researching valid information with real source material and offered that to you. I believe you dismissed most if not all that material because you felt it was biased. Yet you accept for truth material without references because it agrees with your views. We have held special meetings to address the very topics and asked individuals to research and provide the information with real data. At the core of this discussion is a testimony of Jospeh Smith. Without it, nothing matters. With it, everything makes sense. The only way to know that is to read and pray about it. You have refused.
Bishop Ransom H. Love – So here is the core of the concern and I sincerely apologize for you assuming I called you a spoiled child. It was never my intent. I was trying to explain the spirit of apostasy so I will try to do so differently because I care a lot for you and your family and for others reading this post. When we seek answers or truth, one of two things happen. If we are humble we receive it rejoicing. It feels us with light and joy. However, when we reject it, because it goes against traditions, the world or what we want to believe or just want, we begin to rationalize and justify what we want to believe. We then seek the justification from others. We take our issues public to seek others who agree with us. We start with family members and then friends. Social media has now given us each our own personal pulpit. The challenge is the positive response seems to confirm our rationalization, and it feeds our pride. There are many examples of this in the Book of Mormon. We become more hardened in our views. Our hearts harden and we reject the truth. But we keep being reminded of the truth. It is like being prodded with a sharp stick. We become angry and intentionally and maybe even unintentionally at first lash out against those who believe differently than we want to believe. In the worst case, the person then tries to take as many with them as possible. I do not know where you are at in this cycle, but you seem to have taken steps down this path. I care enough to call your attention to it and if you are not headed this way, I am overjoyed. I would never do this publicly and especially on Facebook, but I am somewhat scripturally bound to do so because your views have been made public. Others who are struggling, who are facing challenges can be caught up in the innocence of the questions being raised just like they have been with the sites you have sent me to. Questions are wonderful if we truly seek the truth and answers. As I have said in the past, I do admire your willingness to raise questions. However, questions raised to cause others to doubt their own faith or questions raised to gather others to our cause can be incredibly harmful. Only you know where you are at. I never intended to insult you, but I did want to give you and others key insights or ways to consider these issues and let you know how others feel who do care for you. There is a line I must guard.
Nathan Guest – Bishop L, no matter what your intentions were…. I want to let you know the large number of currently active (mostly from our ward) people that have reached out to let us know how inappropriate they felt your comments were. Some saying they were “fuming”. Rather than seek understand as many did, your goal was to discredit her immediately and belittle her feelings. Her post was just stating she would like to hear more female voices in the church and to feel more equal. She did not link any “anti” material or ask anyone to question their faith. As an active member myself, I welcome the discussion, as it is a daily topic in our home. I try my best to understand her side. I still let her know that I believe what I believe… it’s okay to have discussion. It’s okay to have differing views. Tonya was not combative, but you are fueling fires of rage within her and many people by using analogies that are belittling. You stated she is just as a child and an animal. How is she not to assume you called her that? Reread what you wrote… the lesson I am teaching today in Sunday school is on forgiveness… I am going to have to try harder than normal to practice what I preach
Tonya Guest – Bishop L. to your first comment from last night. The conversations we had were private but you have taken those convo’s and shared them with everybody reading this. My initial post was merely sharing some feelings about how I felt on wanting to hear from more women in the church, you have now shared my personal questions and path with all those who know me. How unfair of you to do! And those conversations were again private, not me publicly telling everyone my struggles and questions for the past few years. I don’t see my post as an attack on anybody or their beliefs. My purpose was to share how I felt. Is it so wrong to have another perspective within the church? And I have read a lot of info from LDS sights, I have read the church essays, I have read books from Deseret Book, I have listened to podcasts from faithful members, I have tried to go to the original source in as many instances as I can. I have read pages and pages from the Joseph Smith papers, his own journals, documents from that time. So please don’t tell me that I have completely dismissed those. I will no longer be told how I should think about those things, I will use my mind and decide for myself.
Tonya Guest – Bishop L, I feel like you are telling everyone that I have the spirit of apostasy and am trying to take as many people down with me. Not at all, I was merely sharing my thoughts and feelings on wanting women to be viewed as equals because I do not feel that in the church. And thank you, for making sure everybody knows that they should discredit me and my thoughts because I have the spirit of apostasy. Thank you for sharing that with all my friends, family, and neighbors.
Below is the text of an email sent to Mormon Stories Podcast and Bishop Ransom H. Love. by a concerned listener:
Bishop Ransom H. Love.
Meadow Rose Ward
5017 West Grand View Peak Drive
Riverton, UT 84096
Re: In Defense of Tonya Guest and Thousands of God’s Children Just Like Her
Dear Bishop Love.,
A friend of mine recently forwarded a podcast called “Mormon Stories” in which I listened, painfully, to the public interactions you had with a member of your congregation. I was mortified by them.
Based on your public comments, I surmise that you really care about Authority and most likely will not consider any type of feedback unless it is said by someone with Authority. Therefore, I feel obligated to share some of my LDS credentials with you. I am a life-long member of the Church, an AP for more than half my mission, I taught in the MTC for several years, went to law school at BYU, and worked for years in a capacity where I associated with Apostles, Seventies, and other Church leaders on a monthly basis. I have served in several Bishoprics, a high Council, and in Ward and Stake leadership positions for decades. I frequently associate with current and emeritus General Authorities.
With that said, I will address my offenses in turn:
Your Facebook comments treated a member of your flock as if she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, not a black sheep that has wondered from the Fold.
You broke your ecclesiastical duty of confidentiality by disclosing the content of extremely personal and painful details that were divulged to you within the confines of that sacred trust.
You demeaned this daughter of God by comparing her to a child throwing a tantrum or to an animal “kicking against the pricks” (the irony of the length, tenor, and ferocity of your response compared to hers in this regard was not lost on me) rather than kindly acknowledging her legitimate concerns, even though you disagreed with them.
The braggadocio with which you stated how often you have counseled her and the pains you went through to address her concerns not only broke confidentiality, once again, but made it appear as though counseling with her was a burden that you did not want even though it is a basic responsibility of a Bishop. If you don’t like fulfilling your responsibility, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
You shamed this sister in a public forum. Even in your comments you acknowledge that social media creates a “pulpit” from which to pontificate. Congregants would be rightfully disgusted if you stood up on Sunday, called out a sister by name, and ranted against her for ten minutes. What you did, via Facebook, was no less egregious.
Because of your leadership position other members of your flock saw your comments and felt justified to “pile on” and follow your example in shaming one of their fellow sisters.
You created an “us” versus “them” mentality between a member of your congregation who is “straying from the path” and those active and believing members who are in your care. Where a flicker of disagreement was created by a Facebook post about woman’s role in the Church, you fanned the flame into an inferno of enmity that not only engulfed many members of your congregation but the friends and family of the poor sister who you so publicly berated.
Like the pharisee’s of old, you sit in the “chief seat” and from your pedestal of so-called authority condemned a woman for her beliefs while ignoring the “weightier matters” like mercy and kindness. Cloaking yourself with the authority of Jesus Christ while acting like a pharisee is not only hypocritical in the eyes of the public, it nullifies your Priesthood in the eyes of God. Your public actions typify “unrighteous dominion” and take the name of God in vain because you did so by virtue of your Priesthood office.
You incorrectly assume that your duty is to “guard the line” of the Church doctrinal tent as if it’s your responsibility to attack those who dare to extend its boundaries. Perhaps a scriptural review of Jesus’ examples of “watching the flock” would help you to realize how backwards your view of your duty is.
You lashed your fellow sister in public and then reprimanded her for being offended as if the whole situation was her fault. Such actions are emotionally abusive at any level let alone from one is so willing to publicly declare his role as Bishop.
I could go on, but suffice it to say I am outraged on behalf of this women. Even though I have never met her, I personally feel her pain. As one who shares her same doubts and desires for change I know that I have been talked about by Church leaders in the same way that you spoke to her. Fortunately, my Church leaders have never been foolish or insensitive enough to call me out, by name and over the “pulpit,” but I know they have treated me the same way behind closed doors.
The doubts and concerns of hundreds of thousands of members of the Church are real. The doubts are based on historical facts and validated by Church publications and desperate apologetics. When doubting members of the Church are treated as this sister was, it pains all of us deeply.
Unfortunately, my current familial and professional obligations make me uncomfortable disclosing my identity and taking a public stand against a Church that justifies, encourages, and protects leaders like you. So, just like hundreds of thousands of other former members I will vote with my feet and silently walk away and take my tithing, my children, and my grandchildren with me.
Screen Shots of the correspondence between Tonya and Bishop L.