Mormon women and priesthood: 5 depressing new survey findings

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Fewer than 10% of Mormons answered yes to the question “Do you, personally, believe that women who are
dedicated members of the Church should have the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood?”

(courtesy of Brent Beal)

Fewer than 10% of Mormons answered yes to the question “Do you, personally, believe that women who are dedicated members of the Church should have the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood?”

As CNN just reported, the results are in from the Mormon Gender Issues Survey, in which a team of researchers used two different questions to ask two different samples of Latter-day Saints about their views on Mormon women’s ordination.

CNN has to take an unbiased journalistic view of the results, but I am a columnist, and a Mormon feminist, so I get to state my opinion outright. And it is this:

I feel like somebody canceled Christmas.

The basic news from the survey is that there’s no news. Despite all the visibility given to the question of female LDS leadership in the last two years, there’s been virtually no improvement in the very low number of Mormons who support women’s ordination. Here are five findings from the study.

Fewer than 10% of Mormons answered yes to the question “Do you, personally, believe that women who are dedicated members of the Church should have the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood?”

Fewer than 10% of Mormons answered yes to the question “Do you, personally, believe that women who are
dedicated members of the Church should have the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood?”

1. The majority of active Mormons still don’t want women to have the priesthood.

When this survey was created, it was with the idea that the statistics on Mormon views might have changed markedly since the 2011 Pew survey that everyone keeps holding up as the gold standard. Had LDS views on women’s ordination softened as much as, say, their views on homosexuality? (See here for recent data on the sharp increase of Mormons who now say “homosexuality should be accepted by society”).

The results on women’s ordination, however, are much the same as before, at least among the most active Mormons (see #5 below).

In prior surveys, the percentage of Mormons who said yes to the “neutral ordination question” was close to ten percent; lo and behold, it really hasn’t budged. The first sample this time around had overall support at 9.9%, and the second just 8.4%.

“I was surprised at just how little support there is among active members for female ordination,” says Brent Beal, a professor at the University of Texas at Tyler, who is part of the team that created the survey.

More than 67% of group 1, and 77% of group 2, said they would be supportive or strongly supportive of women's ordination “if the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were to receive a revelation allowing women to hold the priesthood.”

More than 67% of group 1, and 77% of group 2, said they would be supportive or strongly supportive of women’s ordination “if the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were to receive a revelation allowing women to hold the priesthood.”

2. However, most of those opposed would change their mind if the prophet announced that women should be ordained.

One of the problems with asking that question the way that Pew and other surveys have asked it is that you’re basically asking members to openly disagree with existing church policy,” says Beal. “That member is fully aware that women’s ordination in the church is currently prohibited. So it becomes very difficult to figure out how they would feel on their own without that policy overlay. When you ask it the other way, if this were implemented from the top down, you get rid of this resistance.”

The new question was worded: “If the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were to receive a revelation allowing women to hold the priesthood, I would be…”

And eureka! Whereas we were looking at single-digit numbers for the first question, the second question had more than 67% of Mormons in Group 1 saying they were either “supportive” or “strongly supportive,” a whopping 77% in Group 2.

This about-face is most apparent with the people who were strongly opposed to the first question—confirming the idea that the most devout will just follow church policy, whatever that happens to be.

3. Women are more likely than men to oppose women’s ordination.

We’ve seen this finding before, most sharply in the book American Grace (see here for a previous post on how the gender divide affects Mormons’ views on female ordination). The new survey results are less pronounced than the earlier one: basically, about 12% of men and 7 to 8.8% of women support that first “neutral ordination question.” (Remember that there are two sample groups, and they got slightly different results.)

Additional research will dig deeper into the reasons for this gender divide, drawing on qualitative data from the more than 5,000 single-spaced pages of text that participants wrote explaining their views.

4. Younger Mormons are slightly more likely to support it, but not by a significant margin.

The numbers do trend, but not that much,” says Beal.

Also more likely to support women’s leadership: more affluent, better educated Latter-day Saints. Basically, the higher your education level, the more likely you are to want women’s ordination.

One thing that’s new in this study is the category of “other” for gender. And among people who self-identify as transgender, support for women’s ordination was much higher.

5. The biggest factor predicting support or opposition was a respondent’s level of church activity.

The more active you are, the more likely you are to oppose women’s ordination in the absence of an imprimatur from the Twelve.

And that leads to a major problem with the study: active Mormons are noticeably overrepresented here, which may be skewing all the results to a more conservative direction. “If we’re talking about 15-plus million members of the church, then we have way oversampled on the active side,” says Beal.

The problem is that it’s really hard to get to those 4 or 5 million members who are technically still on the rolls who aren’t really connected with the church at all anymore. Many of them live overseas, and the survey was in English; it’s really tough to reach them for a survey.

“Meanwhile, everybody in Utah that’s on the Internet wanted to answer,” Beal explains: whereas active Mormons who live in Utah represent 7 to 8% of overall church membership, they represent more than 28% of the people in this study.

 


Related post:

How many Mormons seek an expanded role for women?


 

 

  • I agree–this *is* depressing. Although not as depressing as it would have been to me had I not already decided to take an indefinite sabbatical from the LDS Church.

    (On a personal note, all the angst I used to feel about the Church virtually disappeared overnight since I decided to “step away.” Not only do I feel free of anxiety now, but I’ve felt more peace and happiness in my personal life and with my family since I decided to let go of my “crusade” from within the Church for greater gender equality and inclusivity of our LGBT brothers and sisters.)

    “Why I Love the LDS Church Enough to Both Criticize It AND Step Away From It”
    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2015/11/why-i-love-lds-church-enough-to-both_51.html

  • Tammy

    Unfortunately, I don’t find this terribly surprising, though it is disheartening. Sexism is the root cause of LDS homophobia as well. Narrow and stereotypical views about what makes someone a man or a woman derived from the Family Proclamation will continue to prevent maturity and growth.

    Thank you, Jana, for continuing to blog about LDS sexism.

  • Bob

    Why does it surprise anyone when a church that claims to be a restoration of the original church Christ established, is organized in the same way Paul describes it in the New Testament ?

  • Nathan

    The results are really not surprising. Of course active Church members are going to share the opinions of their leaders.

    I’m not certain that better representation of less-active and non-Utah Mormons is all that important – a change in policy would have little impact on those that are less-active anyway, as being active in church would be required for ordination anyway. And it is unlikely that female ordination is the only factor keeping them from being less-active.

    Much more valuable than surveys such as this, would simply be a focus on changing policies, and more importantly attitudes, that prevent deeper inclusion of women within the Church. Ordination may or may not ever occur. But they other changes are far more necessary and urgent.

  • Tina

    Probably because the LDS Church, despite its claims, does not really resemble the original church that Jesus established. We pick and choose literalism when it fits our narrative. If you want to get really literal, Jesus never ordained any Asian men, but we don’t let that stop us from ordaining them today. He certainly didn’t celebrate the Sabbath on a Sunday. That came later in Christianity. The list of ways in which the LDS Church is nothing like the Primitive Church is endless, but we try to convince ourselves that somehow it is organized the same way. The truth is, it’s not even organized the way Joseph Smith originally established it. All major decisions in the 1830s and 1840s were made by the High Council (which included the First Presidency); however, the Twelve Apostles were traveling missionaries who did not have any substantial policy-making clout. Organizations including churches, change with the times, some much more slowly than others.

  • jojo

    In my opinion asking the question is a waste of time. The question presupposes that there is a chance for change; something that would never happen. The Church has too much invested in the way things are now. It has been patriarchal religion for centuries and has no reason to change, especially since most members don’t believe it should change. I would bet even those who were agreeable to the change if it came from revelation from leaders were very uncertain of their answers. Such a change might even drive more people away from the church than bring more to it.

  • Bob, do you mean the same Paul who referred to Junia, a woman, as an apostle?

  • Good point. I would like to see future questions about other ways that people would like to see women exercise leadership, short of priesthood.

  • W

    “Women are more likely than men to oppose women’s ordination… Additional research will dig deeper into the reasons for this gender divide”

    Looking forward to what comes out of the research, but I don’t think this is surprising at all. In fact, the only thing surprising to me about this is that the divide isn’t larger for at least a few reasons:

    1) Members of an identity group often have some degree of extra insulation against charges of discrimination against their identity group. Not immunity by any stretch (as descriptions like “uncle tom” and “self-hating” attest), but enough of a margin to cover a 5-20% difference.
    2) People not “exercising the priesthood” may have an experience with it more defined by spiritual feelings and lofty priesthood rhetoric and less with the messy human reality. People involved in that exercise (men) are more likely to experience a more mundane/human side of it they may not see connected to their gender identity.
    3) (continued…)

  • W

    3) Possibly sexist (and I welcome pushback here), but I suspect some significant number of women are comforted by the idea of being partnered to someone with a regarded status in the community which they themselves may not have access to. It doesn’t make sense, and I’m sure it breaks down with distance from the mean perhaps even faster than most generalizations do, but I’ve known enough tall women who *must* have someone taller and accomplished women that want someone more accomplished that I think this alone would cover a 5% divide in whether or not women should be ordained.

  • Bob

    Nice try, but surely you jest. In this singular mention, not only is there no evidence of Junia’s ordination but so many scholars believe this name to be a masculine reference. Besides being “of note among the apostles” doesn’t make you an apostle anymore than being “kinsmen” and “fellow prisoners” with Paul makes you a woman. That said, anything is possible including mistranslation.

  • Bob

    Tina, more and closer reading of the New Testament benefits all.

  • Isn’t the more obvious issue the continuing notion of priesthood in the LDS church as a supernatural force with some rather problematic origin stories? After all, even the church history department states that they don’t know when the Melchezidek priesthood was said to have been restored. A more general reunderstanding of priesthood and authority seems to be in order.

  • GrayDog

    And it could be internalized misogyny. Many women believe the negative stereotypes of women. The same thing happens with blacks, LGBT+, and other disenfranchised groups.

  • Joseph

    I think it is interesting to consider then, if women are the gender least in favor of Womens’ Ordination then why is sexism a claim at all? Obviously most women don’t feel that way. There must be a certain level of divine nature and testimony in those large majority of women who feel very comfortable with men having the Priesthood, that is not apparent in the small minority who claim ‘sexism’.
    I am happy that this large majority of women are Happy.

  • Tom

    Bob,

    Read closely Romans 16:1 and 16:7 in Greek and then we’ll talk about what Paul says about Church organization.

  • Tom

    Bob, do you read Ancient Greek? I’m guessing not. I do, and have looked into these issues. First, there is no evidence for the name having been the extremely unlikely Junias (the Greek obscures it, unfortunately, but “Junias” isn’t really a name at this time). Second, the grammar is an inclusive “among”. Deal with it.

  • Tom

    Also, “many scholars”? You mean ones that aren’t forced by their theology to play the apologist? Nope, not many at all.

    Eldon Jay Epp has produced what is possibly the most comprehensive work on the subject that assembles all of the data and opinions and laid out all out. I’d encourage you to take a look at his research.

  • Pr Chris

    Bob:

    Jana is correct. The name Junia is undoubtedly a female name, as most biblical scholars today agree. There is no linguistic history for Junias (male) but there is for Junia, which is a common Roman name. Early commentators assumed it was a reference to a female, then we went through a period of trying to make it male…but now, many signficant scholars have gone back to its female form. As far as their standing with the apostles, “of note among the Apostles” (which might indicate not being one of them), scholars such as Joe Fitzymer and others prefer “outstanding among the apostles” which puts them into the group. The bottom line among Roman scholars is that Junia is a female, and one of the apostles. Andronicus and Junia are probably a husband and wife team, like Prisca and Aquila. Nine of the 26 people mentioned in the list are women. The picture given is that of men and women working together in the early Church, established by Jesus and furthered by Paul…

  • Pr Chris

    Bob

    The early church, as described in the letters of Paul and others and the gospels is not all that close to what the LDS church structures itself as today. Jesus did not, for instance, ordain anyone. Leadership was comprised of the apostles, which were 12 Jewish men to symbolize the 12 tribes in the new Israel (the church). As they died, they were not replaced, except for Judas, who left by his actions in betraying Jesus. The leadership seen in the early church was small groups in house churches which gathered on Sunday, the first day of the week, as established by the disciples on Easter night, after observing the Sabbath at synogogue. When additional leadership was established, deacons were named, and apparently the “apostles” as named by Paul are not the 12 designated by Jesus. It was a loosely organized group, as the church was more interested in the end of the world, and not a long term organization. That came later.

    Pr Chris

  • Pr Chris

    To Jana and others who are disappointed by the findings, let me tell you about my personal example. I am a Lutheran Pastor–a woman. When I was in college, in 1969, I was wondering about the possibility of ordained ministry in Lutheran Churches in America, so I wrote the editors of the magazines published by each of the 3 main Lutheran groups as a means of communication with their members (they are usually sent to all members of all parishes). The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (the most conservative replied: Never. The American Lutheran church (Norwegian descent primarily) editor said….it will happen, but not in our lifetimes, probably. The Lutheran Church in America (Swedish and Danish descent, mostly) editor, of the most liberal said. It will happen, but not for maybe 20 years. (American Lutheran and Lutheran Church in America are now ELCA – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

    In 1970 — ALC and LCA: women’s ordination was approved. So keep up the hope!

    PR…

  • ThomasT

    “Feminists” who do not believe there should be any difference, to speak of, between feminine and masculine probably should stop calling themselves feminists. How about “sex-same-ists”? In any event, the notion that if only we could get better opinion polling THEN God would see the light and change His mind seems far fetched. I have a hard time believing that a God who claims creation of worlds without number (let’s say millions to make it easy) cares one bit about the opinions of one generation out of thousands of generations on one tiny, little world out of millions. Nor can I believe the whole “God wants it but the low-quality apostles He has chosen are just not listening” shtick. It seems that the apostles have listened to women asking for more input and have devised policies to take it as far as they have authority. M. Doctrine is that it takes a man AND women for exaltation. So, relax. Equality, not sameness, will come if you qualify. Call it priesthood. Be happy.

  • Larry2

    You could have posted this exact comment (literally word for word) to a message board in 1889 and everyone would have thought you were talking about polygamy.

    I think you drastically underestimate just how quickly things actually can change. Even things the Church has “too much invested in.”

    (That said, I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t happen all that often; my point is just that it *can* happen, and has at least a couple times in the past).

  • Larry2

    I think W already covered that possibility in her first point.

  • Larry2

    ThomasT, I’m sorry you “have a hard time believing that God … cares one bit about the opinions of [his children].” It must be hard believing in a god that is so cold.

    For what it’s worth, the Bible (which given the context of your answer, I assume you believe to be God’s word) testifies otherwise. Try Luke 12:6-7. Or Matthew 10:29-31.

  • Larry2

    Joseph — W’s post at 5:48 PM explores several reasons why this might be.

    It seems a little facile-minded to simply conclude “women said they don’t have a problem with this, therefore it’s not sexist.” There are any number of things you can point to in history that women of the time would probably have widely supported in polls that are now universally recognized as “sexist.”

    It would be interesting to know if any pre-1978 polling existed on issues of race in the church. I’d say it’s a fair bet that if it did, black members of the church would have polled widely in support of the church’s policies. That doesn’t mean the policies weren’t racist. It just means that people have a hard time disagreeing with their church’s leaders.

  • Torin93

    Wouldn’t the change on women having the ability to hold the Priesthood cause theological problems for Mormons. If a women can be a High Priest herself, then she doesn’t need her husband to reach through the veil with the grip and word. Right?

  • Joseph

    Even though our Theology teaches a Woman does not need to hold the Priesthood in order to obtain exaltation, Perhaps a survey question such as: if the LDS prophet authorized Women to have the option to recieve the Priesthood, would you sign up?
    I would what those numbers would look like. Perhaps we can extrapolate an idea of those numbers from this survey.

  • Ed Firmage

    This isn’t surprising. As liberal and middle of the road Mormons leave, the rump becomes more conservative and radicalized.

    What I find surprising is that there are still Mormon women who expect anything different. The Church has dug itself such a deep hole on all things gender- and sex-related that it can’t escape.

  • Kevin JK

    The Bible says that women aren’t to have authority over men. There is no way around that short of a revelation superseding what Paul taught. I asked an apostle once why women couldn’t be Sunday School presidents since they, like Primary presidents, don’t exert line authority over men who work as teachers. he told me that he didn’t know and that is just the way it’s always been. We’ve seen the tradition of women don’t being able to pray at conference abandoned. Perhaps the traditional ban on women Sunday School presidents will be abandoned as well. The priesthood ban isn’t tradition. it’s doctrine and, as stated, short of a revelation superseding existing scripture, it ain’t happenin’.

  • Not to put too fine a point on all the effort that went into this survey, but it seems obvious from the findings that the best path to empowering Mormon women is a straight line out of the LDS church.

  • Elder Anderson

    What brings me hope and joy is seeing members (especially women) question authority and the status quo in more open and direct ways. This was unheard of on such a scale just a generation ago. Many policies and practices are in place as a matter of tradition and nothing more. Lately, there’s been a rapid acceleration in the LDS church’s evolution. It’s only a matter of time before continuing revelation and agency provide necessary enlightenment, changes and growth. Continue speaking out, and never lose hope!

  • Joseph

    My personal experience with the Priesthood is that it is the Authority of God given to bless His children. I find it surprising that some might look at the Priesthood as a theological means of authority of man over woman or woman over man.

  • Elder Anderson

    Chino, as with nearly every Biblical text, we have to consider context. Paul may well have been speaking only about women in Ephesus, not all women until the end of time. Clearly, he recognized women preaching and teaching as peers, e.g. Romans 16:1-3; Philippians 4:2-3. That’s my take on it. Certainly, my wife has had something to teach me every day of our marriage, and I’m a better man for it.

  • Tom

    Joseph,

    D&C 121:39 “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of ALMOST ALL men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    Nowhere in that verse does it say that it doesn’t apply to some people, some Mormons, some active Mormons, or even some of the highest leadership. It doesn’t specify exceptions: among ALL men, ALMOST ALL of them tend to exercise unrighteous dominion using the authority the feel they have. Is it really so surprising that Priesthood is _often_ used as a “theological means of authority” for some over others? And is it really so surprising that in order for women to be “agents unto themselves” and to “act for themselves” and not “be acted upon” there is power struggles by those already holding authority to keep it to themselves?

    Is this perhaps why we have not heard the leadership state definitively that God’s will is male priesthood?…

  • I found it surprising that my Mom had to put on a veil and that her getting into heaven apparently meant letting the local yokels I grew up with play keymaster. But, hey, your mileage may vary. Some folks call it a blessing, I suppose it struck me as straight up misogyny.

  • Did I mention the Bible? I’m commenting on a post that relates to a survey of 60K respondents in 2015. Fantastic effort on the part of the folks who conducted the survey. Poor effort on your part as far as I can tell, if all you’ve got for me is this non sequitur couched in a comment that calls out the importance of context. I don’t think I’m the one who just ignored context in favor of dropping an off-the-wall commentary.

  • Elder Anderson

    My mistake, Chino. I replied to the wrong comment. And, by the way, I am on your side.

  • Sue

    So many men commenting on women and their role. Sigh. So depressing as to me it belies the fact that women under patriarchal systems don’t even have the confidence or experience necessary to engage in a conversation about their rights and essential nature. I miss my community but how can I knowingly expose my daughters to such a soul crushing culture/doctrine?

  • Danny S

    “But, hey, your mileage may vary.” Very funny. Well-played, young man.

  • W

    This is a really… odd comment that feels like it’s about something else other than its ostensible question, because as theological issues that *might* come from women being ordained go, it seems like both a non-sequitur and non-issue. Single women who go through now clearly don’t need their husband involved. And even with women ordained to offices in the priesthood, everyone (man or woman) would still need someone (man or woman) to reach through the veil.

    And that’s leaving alone the question of how much the endowment ceremony is any kind of theological text.

  • John Proctor

    Yes, it’s really sad that people are such devoted followers of other men, but I doubt anyone is surprised. When a church is founded by a group of philanderers and in the highest level of exaltation the man becomes both God and King and is given a harem of women to ‘utilize’ in populating the cosmos is anyone ultimately surprised to see that even the women have been brainwashed to the point of seeing little potential or value in themselves. I can’t imagine it’s psychologically healthy supporting a husband toward ‘exaltation’, waiting for the time you becoming just a member of his harem. Especially when he might prefer the younger prettier wife in the eternities (eternity is a long time to be second class). If we just look at the foundation of the church historically (see LDS essay on polygamy), Emma Smith must have been destroyed psychologically when Joseph started to marry not only other men’s wives but 14 year olds. How could she ever hope to meet his needs at that point? Poor…

  • John Proctor

    Prevent maturity and growth? Maturity and growth are diametrically opposed to the core tenants of the LDS church. Maturity and growth would have helped my wife to not leave me when I told her I couldn’t support the Mormon philosophy anymore… Maturity and growth would be a knife in the heart to the bigoted, traditional, thoughtless, and frankly unchristian mormon experience. Might as well be the end of the religion if you do away with the fanatics through maturity and growth…

  • Tammy

    I’m sorry for your negative experience. I understand and can commiserate.

  • Elder Anderson

    @W
    Well, possibly as a servant for all eternity…… “No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her, if she is worthy to have a husband; and if not, somebody will receive her as a servant” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p 291)

  • W

    Which is pretty much the folk theology for single ordained and endowed men — marriage is part & parcel with exaltation, and limits that amount to ministering angel-hood are the fate of bachelors and spinsters alike. Though for better or worse (ahem), barring the return of polyandry or some other form of composite marriage, bachelors can’t even ride the coattails of another exaltation-bound couple as a third (or fifth) wheel to eternal increase.

    In any case, the specifics of the veil-threshold of the temple ceremony don’t seem relevant.

  • Me

    This is what I have been saying ever since the whole Ordain Women movement began. The Church believes itself to be lead by a prophet guided by the Lord who will never allow the prophet to lead the Church astray. So there’s something fundamentally wrong with creating a bottom up movement of people making signs and protests and trying to go against the grain by complaining about not being let into an all male conference session (which happens to be broadcast on the Internet for anyone to watch), all in an effort to change the Church when the proper channel for making policy changes already exists between the Lord directly to the prophet. The Church explicitly teaches that one does not receive revelation for a group of other people for whom one does not hold stewardship, so are these women receiving revelation from the Lord that the Church needs to change this policy, but the Lord for some reason is failing to give that same revelation to His prophet? No.

  • In the Fellowship, the General Relief Society President is the 1st Councilor in the First Presidency with an office of the priesthood and has equal say in the direction of the Church. The local Relief Society president holds the same type of role as 1st counselor to the bishop over the congregation. Women can pray over people, as Joseph Smith Jr. through Joseph F. Smith taught, and thus don’t need the Office of the Priesthood to preform miracles. It has yet to be revealed what to do in regards to ordinances, but women 12 and up may be a deacon in the Junior Relief Society and pass the sacrament, as it is not an ordnance. (Blessing the sacrament is the ordinance and the only part of the service that requires a priesthood office.) Will women hold the Office of the Priesthood? We are waiting for those that have been called to accept their callings and the Lord will let us know from there. If you’d feel the call to help, let us know,

  • Me

    So while I have no doctrinal concerns with women holding the priesthood, if such a policy is to be enacted, it will come from the Lord to the prophet, and not because of political pressures or protests. In the mean time, anyone in the Church who has a problem with existing policies is clearly showing a lack of faith in the Lord to do what He sees fit for the Church *IF* and when He decides that a policy change is necessary.

  • Kevin JK

    Sorry to spoil the party, but the prophets have said over and over that the only source of official Church doctrine is the Standard Works and that everything else is opinion. That JoD statement is NOT doctrinal until it is accepted by the Church via Common Consent. Until then, it’s no more official than anything you or I say.

  • Kevin JK

    Women holding the priesthood is NOT a question of policy. it’s a question of doctrine. As such, any change would have the be sustained by the Church via common consent as was done when the priesthood was given to all worthy males. Policies are simply guidelines that may or may not be given by a general authority. I have no problem criticizing policies. We can’t criticize doctrine.

  • Me

    I’m going to disagree with you simply for the reason that the Lord’s Church changing doctrine doesn’t make any sense. That is why homosexuality will never stop being a sin. That would be a doctrinal change. However blacks or women holding the priesthood is a policy.

    But back to my point, all policy change come from the Lord to the prophet, and not from bottom up movements.

  • Tom

    I used to have that viewpoint, too, until I was convinced by a friend to follow it through to the logical conclusion: does the LDS Church and its current policies and makeup match the hypothetical organization from their Standard Works? In other words, I was challenged to mentally build a church using only the four standard works (Bible, BoM, D&C, PoGP) as a guide, attempting as far as possible to remain ignorant of the regular Mormon Church while doing so. And then compare the two organizations. It was disheartening but enlightening

    Can LDS women hold the priesthood? Sure, there’s nothing in the Standard Works _against_ it. Will LDS women hold the priesthood? Not for a long time because in the modern LDS Church we may claim there is a difference between “culture” and “doctrine” but functionally there is no difference, and there are no rules as to what is official beyond what the modern leadership is currently saying.

    I know it sounds harsh; I’m not trying to be.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Mormon women don’t want the priesthood because they think the prophet doesn’t want them to want it. Kate Kelly’s excommunication supports their belief. If the prophet changes his mind, and changes the doctrine, then Mormon women will support him.

    That’s what Mormons do. Don’t think, just do.

  • Castiel

    That the percentage of Mormon women who advocate female ordination remains in single digits doesn’t surprise me. Generally speaking, women tend to be more devout in the various religious denominations of the world than men, so why should Mormon women be any different?

    What concerns me is that there are actually somewhere between 23-33% of Mormons who would actually oppose female ordination even if it were announced as a revelation by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. I can’t help but think that many of these were confused by the question and thought someone was trying to trick them into affirming something contrary to current teaching. But if they would truly oppose female ordination despite its prophetic sanction, they would be on even shakier ground than those who currently agitate for it in the hope that public pressure might somehow bring it to pass.

    The best place for any believing Latter-day Saint is a willingness that God’s will be done, wherever it may…

  • Castiel

    That’s a rather unkind generalization of believing Latter-day Saints, Debbie. One can exercise faith with one’s eyes wide open. In fact, that’s how one SHOULD exercise faith. Elder Packer once addressed this criticism of blind obedience:

    Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.

    We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “under this head are [we] made free.” (Mosiah 5:8.)

    Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.

    lds…

  • kevin jk

    Sorry, but women being banned from the priesthood is doctrinal. The scriptures forbid women being in authority over men. Giving women the priesthood, even just the Aaronic priesthood, would place them over non-priesthood holding men should they ever be in a position where they would be the presiding authority (a very real possibility in small branches).

    Scriptures are doctrinal therefore the ban on women holding the priesthood is doctrinal, not just a policy that can be changed on a whim. It would have to be approved via common consent. Even the POLICY of Blacks being banned from the priesthood was overturned via common consent (probably to tell any recalcitrant members that this IS official). Giving women the priesthood would obviously done in the same manner.

  • kevin jk

    You’re not being harsh at all. No worries.

    The scriptures are clear that women can’t have authority over men. This means that any change would have to be approved via Common Consent and added to the Standard Works as was done when the Blacks received the priesthood and we all acknowledge that the ban WAS a policy. The women would be done the same way. It won’t be just some policy change letter that the the bishop reads over the pulpit in sacrament meeting.

  • kevin jk

    women don’t want the priesthood because it’ll put more things on their already full plate. I’ve always said that if women get the priesthood, they’ll take over and all that the guys will end up doing is setting up tables and chairs.

  • kevin jk

    The fact that women are more devout is a reason to let only the men hold the priesthood. Men need to be needed. If we don’t feel needed, we walk away. Look at what is going on regarding marriage. Men are walking away. Many non-LDS women tell us that they don’t need us since they have college degrees and high paying jobs, so guys are walking away and hanging out with their friends and playing video games.

  • Tom

    It’s also clear from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans that at least two women had the respective titles of diákonos and apostolos, so I’m not sure if the scriptures are “clear” on this issue.

  • Tom

    “Being in authority” is a messy concept.

    Certainly Deborah held authority over the men of Israel as one of the judges.

    Huldah the prophet was the one consulted when Josiah’s court discovered the book of Deuteronomy in the Temple–not Zephaniah or Jeremiah.

    And we have Roman resident Junia identified as an outstanding apostle in a letter delivered for Paul by the Corinthian deacon Phoebe during the earliest days of Christianity.

    We can either try and rectify each of these examples by variously denying the divinity of the authority they held or the definition of the titles ascribed to them just so we can preserve the integrity of ONE scripture (1 Timothy 2:12) that may not have actually even been authored by the historical Paul, OR we can admit that the theological subject is actually vague and complex and may or may not be “doctrinal” in nature to begin with. But at least it’s debatable.

  • Tom

    That doesn’t reflect well on the caliber of men in the LDS Church…

  • Kevin JK

    My non KJV translations translate 16:7 as Junia being well known amongst the apostles, not being a part of that group. Phebe, mentioned in 16:1, could be a waiter or servant as the Greek word (1249). Matt. 22:13 shows that translation for that word before the Church and office of a deacon was established. See also Mark 9:35 and john 2:5,9.

    there is more than enough reasonable doubt to question your claim.

  • Kevin JK

    The non-KJV translations I have show Junia to be of great renown BY the apostles, not AMONGST them. Your assertion is very shakey. We have accepted 1 Tim. as scripture via common consent and therefore it is official doctrine, whether or not it was written by Paul.

  • Kevin JK

    That’s men in general. Every denomination has more women than men (perhaps a good reason to reintroduce polygamy…he said half jokingly). The prophet has stated that new converts need a testimony, a friend and a calling. If men had fewer callings due to women filling them, some may fall away. Partially due to our male only priesthood, I’d bet that the percentage of men staying home and their wives going alone is lower than other denominations. I’d bet that the ratio of single men to single women (especially amongst those not extremely elderly where widowhood hurts all) is better as well. IOW, I bet our men are more devout than most other denominations.

  • Me

    @Kevin JK
    Just because a change is made by unanimous vote or common consent does not mean it is a change in doctrine (as previously stated, a change in doctrine doesn’t make any sense). Changing leadership is done through the same process, but I’m sure you wouldn’t argue that that qualifies as a change in doctrine.

    You’re trying to argue that this policy will never change, which you may or may not be right, but not for the reason’s you think. Your best argument is a single verse indicating that women should not “usurp” authority, and I could make a case that your interpretation of this is not the required interpretation. Your position is so extreme that even people on your side do not agree with you.

    Quite simply, if Heavenly Father wants this to happen, He can make it happen. What will not happen is God changing policies because of grassroots movements or protests.

  • Kevin JK

    Of course not every thing sustained by Common Consent isn’t a change in doctrine. It simply makes it official.

    The verse in 1 Tim. is official doctrine. Women aren’t to have authority over men. If there is a revelation giving women the priesthood, it will have to be sustained by Common Consent to become official. Bottom line. If such a change comes, I would have no problem with it. Let the Lord govern the Church as he sees fit. Public pressure or bottom up complaints have no place in determining doctrine.

  • Me

    I haven’t disagreed with you that such a change would be sustained by common consent.

    In Timothy, Paul says that women should not “usurp” authority over men. A case could be made that men voluntarily giving away authority because the Lord commanded the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve received revelation and unanimously voted to give the priesthood to women, does not go against Paul’s commandment. Also it should be noted:
    D. Todd Christofferson – “It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church.”

  • Bob

    Tom/Jana, Just getting back to the conversation. “Deal with it”? Really? How about a little more kindness and Christianity. Opinions, opinions we all have them. I can respect yours if you respect mine. Again, “of note” is far less inclusive and being a kinsmen and fellow prisoner with Paul doesn’t make Junia (or whatever the name) a woman even under progressive or oppressive Roman occupation. Admittedly my Greek is a bit rusty and I much prefer the Latin or Aramaic as my “Alma” [not always feminine] mater is St. Francis [likely not a woman]. Cheers and Merry Christmas.

  • Kevin JK

    Sure, you could make that case, but the logic to justify it would be pretty iffy. It might depend on what the meaning of the word “is” is. Peter talked about those who “wrest” the scriptures. I think that such an attempt to justify that through the issuing of a policy change would qualify as that.

  • Me

    You are making the assumption that “my interpretation of the scriptures is the obvious interpretation, and anyone who disagrees with me is the one wresting the scriptures.”

    I think it’s pretty clear that your attempt to take Paul’s words to an overarching meaning that under no circumstances should a woman be in a position of authority over a man, and particularly applying that to the priesthood which has no contextual basis within the scripture itself, that in fact you are the one wresting the scripture.

    As stated, I’m of the opinion that the Lord will not change this policy, and I’m absolutely against those who try to change Church policy from the ground up rather than trusting the Lord to guide His Church through His prophet who has been called and sustained. However your position is so extreme that even people on your side do not agree with you.

  • Kevin JK

    The scripture seems pretty cut and dried…women aren’t to have authority over men. Period. If women have the priesthood and are ordained to leadership offices within that priesthood (quorum presidents, bishopric members, ward mission leaders, etc…) they will have priesthood authority over men in direct violation of existing scripture and therefore existing doctrine. Are we going to ordain women, but not let them serve?

    If the Lord tells his prophet the change is to be made, I’ll support it. We know that new scripture supersedes older scripture so Paul’s prohibition won’t matter, just as OD1 overturned scriptural polygamy.

    There is no way my position is extreme. it’s simply following official doctrine (scriptures) until the Lord overrides it. If you can come up with an interpretation of the scriptures that would allow women to have authority over men despite what the scripture clearly says, i’d love to hear it if it doesn’t depend on what the meaning of the word…

  • Me

    “The scripture seems pretty cut and dried…women aren’t to have authority over men. Period.”
    Fail. The scripture says women aren’t to “usurp” authority over men, which is not the same thing. Notice that my interpretation doesn’t include the word “is”, so your Bill Clinton references aren’t applicable. I’m taking the verse at face value. You are interpreting the verse without even realizing it, and you are trying to apply the verse to the subject of the priesthood, which has no contextual basis. It does NOT say women aren’t to “have” authority over men. It says they aren’t to “usurp” authority over men. Period.

  • Kevin JK

    if you look at the surrounding verses (9-15), Paul gives the manner in which women are to behave. They are to be modest in dress and action and be silent and embrace motherhood. They weren’t to be in the forefront as leaders. They were to be in the background, being lead. Likewise in the following chapter through verse 12, bishops and deacons (the priesthood office, not the “servant” version) are to be men (Stong’s 435). See also Titus 1:6 and others. The scriptures say that men are to lead their families and be the head of women and that women are to obey their husbands. See Titus 2:5

    The pattern is clear. Women aren’t to lead men. Men are to lead women. Any attempt to bypass the clear meaning of scripture by issuing a policy change is against the clear order of the Church and would be steadying the ark. The change would have to come through revelation and being sustained by the membership via Common Consent, just like the last time the priesthood was extended to…

  • Danny S

    Except what happens if your authoritative text isn’t so authoritative? From what I read most scholars have concluded the “Pastoral Epistles” – including Timothy
    1 & 2 and Titus to be pseudepigraphical works. Referencing falsely attributed writings not to mention referencing a mythological event (Jehovah killing some poor sap for touching a piece of furniture) is not persuasive.

  • Kevin JK

    Ahhh…now we’re getting down to the brass tacks. The Apostles and Prophets have repeatedly stated that the Standard Works are the only official source of Church doctrine. We accepted them as official via Common Consent. IOW, as far as LDS doctrine goes, they are by definition correct. If you feel that they aren’t correct, then you are in open rebellion against the official doctrine of the Church. You can’t be a good Christian either since all Christians feel the same about the Bible. Doubting the story of Uzzah steadying the ark puts you in that camp as well. If this is all you got, why are you arguing? You aren’t a believer and so have no skin in the game.

  • Larry2

    KevinJK — The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible was never accepted by common consent as “official.” However, many of the edits/additions made in the JST significantly change the meaning of verses in the Old and New Testaments, which have been accepted by common consent as “official.” Is it, then, your contention that someone who believes the edits made in the JST is “in open rebellion against the official doctrine of the Church”?

  • Elder Anderson

    @Larry2
    I agree with you completely, and I think bro Kevin is getting a little ahead of himself. Plus there’s that pesky Revelations 22:18 verse which seems to say don’t add *any* additional works to the original Bible. 🙂

  • Kevin JK

    Prior to their addition in 1975, D&C 137 & 138 were available to read, but they weren’t official doctrine until they were sustained by Common Consent…despite them being revelations. If they were OFFICIAL prior to that, why did we add them to the Standard Works and why was it done via Common Consent if they could have been added by simple policy decree? The JST falls into the same category. People can believe it, but it is NOT official.

    Overriding existing scripture requires new scripture to do so. Women getting the priesthood falls into this category which means that it would have to be sustained by common consent and then added to the D&C or as OD-3.

  • Kevin JK

    Those that hold rev. 22:18 forbids the addition of additional scripture have a number of issues that they need to address –
    1. Even Protestant Bible scholars admit that that verse pertains only to the Revelation and not the whole Bible. Many scholar believe that the Gospel of John was written AFTER the Revelation so that would exclude the Gospel of John from the Bible per that interpretation.
    2. John never gave an official list of what writings were to be in the Bible (or whether a Christian Bible would be created), therefore ANY gospel or epistle could be said to be “adding to”. There are apocryphal additions is some Bibles. Are those a violation? Are those Bibles not containing them violating the “take away from these words” wording in verse 19?
    3. Do you believe that John meant to bind the hands of God disallowing Him from adding new scripture?

    Those asserting that Rev. 22:18 bans all new scripture need to address the above. Good Luck.

  • Larry2

    @Kevin JK

    I still think you’re missing the point here, Kevin. If you’re going to insist on the most literal possible interpretation of things, how do you explain that blacks began to be ordained immediately following the announcement of OD-2, months before it was accepted by common consent in General Conference?

  • Kevin JK

    hat’s an easy one. The Church, awhile back, put out an essay on the ban basically stating that the Church didn’t know how the ban started. It is not found in scripture nor was there any sustaining of it via Common Consent. IOW, it was a policy put in for whatever reason. When the Church finally rescinded the policy, leaders were free to act on it. It, being a policy, didn’t need Common Consent to be officially overturned since the ban was never official…just policy.

    The leaders probably made it OFFICIAL doctrine via Common Consent in order to tell the racists in the Church and tell the world at large, that the ban was gone and the Church considers all races equal.

    this is a LOT different than extending the priesthood to women. Their ban IS official. it can’t be rescinded via a policy announcement. That would be steadying the ark. It’ll need to be done via revelation and Common Consent. there’s no way around that.

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