November 21st, 2007

Pride in Practice (or, What a Few Women Think)


photo credit: heytiff

In the days and weeks following Sister Beck’s recent general conference address, titled “Mothers Who Know”, some sites in the bloggernacle threw a temper tantrum, expressing frustration and disapproval of her remarks.

However, the flames of frustration have been fanned by a few “women who know” who have organized a web site containing their declaration of “what women know”. The web site has garnered additional attention, as Peggy Fletcher Stack, a SL Trib reporter who jumps at any chance to stir the Mormon pot and call it news, wrote an article about the site.

The introduction to the website explains who these women are and why they’ve organized as one to reject Beck’s statements. One of the closing lines of introduction to the site states:

Several ideas within the body of President Beck’s talk conflict with our inspiration and experience.

To the orthodox Mormon (or TBM, “True Believing Mormon”, as some liberal ‘naclers like to call us), this statement reeks of pride and borderlines on apostasy. To state that the over-the-pulpit words of an ordained and sustained general authority “conflict with [one’s own] inspiration” is revelatory rebelliousness at its finest.

The comments section for the SLTrib article is quite telling: most of the pro-Beck comments (those voicing support for the statements in her talk) have been buried through numerous negative votes, indicating the number of people on that website who disapprove of such comments, and thus disapprove of Sister Beck’s words. One buried comment on the first page reads as follows:

I love that the “What Women Know” women manage to squeeze in every plank of the Democratic platform and still expect us to believe it’s a response to Beck’s talk. Anti-war, health care reform, employer family-leave policies, and “affordable, high-quality child care”? Beck didn’t oppose any of these in her talk. The only things these Hillarys forgot they know are Kyoto and ‘Roe’.

I recognize four names on the list. One of them is a prominent writer who was excommunicated for apostasy, one is a disaffected member who lost their job as a seminary teacher for anonymously attacking the church on internet message boards and no longer attends church, and two are Sunstone contributors who seldom have anything good to say about the church. I find it unsurprising that excommunicated and disaffected people take exception to conference talks, or use them as platforms to publicize Democratic talking-points.

And so the list of those who oppose Sister Beck’s talk contain excommunicated members, disaffected axe-grinders, and liberal Sunstoners, among others. These people declare, on the website to which they’ve attached their name, that they are the “authors of our own lives”. I am reminded of similar arrogance found in the words of a poem titled Invictus, in which the author declares he is the “captain of [his] own soul.” In rebuttal to such a notion, Orson Whitney wrote:

Art thou in truth? Then what of him
Who bought thee with his blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood?

Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but him could bear.—
The God who died that man might live,
And endless glory share?

Of what avail thy vaunted strength,
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that his Light may pierce the gloom,
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree.
Thou, captain of thy soul, forsooth!
Who gave that place to thee?

Free will is thine—free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that head “unbowed,”
Small part of Life’s great whole!
And see in Him, and Him alone,
The Captain of thy soul.

These types of prideful manifestations are not new; they have occurred throughout the world’s history, as God’s children have flat out told Him that they know better than He. Of such persons, Jacob commented in the Book of Mormon:

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. (2 Ne. 9:28)

I am saddened to see such a display of pride and rebellion, wherein a few members have rejected the counsels of God and declared that authorized instruction runs contrary to their own “inspiration” and “experience”.

I do understand that Sister Beck’s words may be troublesome for those who disagree, but we have been instructed regarding what to do during such circumstances:

Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them. The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ (D&C 98:12). Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. (Boyd K. Packer, via Quoty)

One wonders if any of these people knelt down in prayer about this subject before attaching their name to a declaration that spits in the face of established and sustained Church authority.

48 Responses to “Pride in Practice (or, What a Few Women Think)”

  1. Kaela
    November 21, 2007 at 5:21 pm #

    In my opinion (after reviewing the conference talk, the website, AND the SLC paper article) the media are once again blowing this out of proportion to get a rise out of people. A quote in the article that you neglected to mention was: “We don’t have an agenda in that we weren’t trying to rebuke anybody,” said Paula Goodfellow, an LDS homemaker in Encinitas, Calif., who helped put the statement on the Web site. “A lot of women felt excluded by the talk. We wanted them to know they were not alone.”
    I think the newspaper is blowing it of proportion by calling it a “rebuttal” in order to get attention. I TOO agree with the statements written on the website-I see it as a more inclusive, more global reiteration of what Sister Beck discussed in her talk-not a contradiction. I’m not sure of the context of her talk (was it to a general audience, or to just the ladies?). Again I see that website petition as inclusive…elaborating on her comments. I.E. Men AND Women are nurturing and hold many overlapping roles. The church talks of equality in the home. Why not in parenting roles and all that entails? (that is just one example) While Sister Beck did a beautiful job of explaining the importance and worth of the role as ‘mother’ she just didn’t mention anything about how other people fit into the (which isn’t wrong or bad). The website petition just adds more ideas and a broader perspective to what she started.
    Again, I don’t think that website is trying to break down her talk (although that one sentence they used at the top is probably not the best choice of words). It seems to me they are seeking to globalize her talk so it applies to a larger demographic and so that more people can feel its application in their own lives. We are all important, we all play “motherly” roles as teachers, nurturers, guardians, and guides, friends, and even providers. The reality is-outside of Utah (and even inside of Utah) many moms work by choice, or by necessity, and so their ‘role’ as a mom isn’t so cookie cutter.
    This isn’t a black and white thing, and I see the online petition as adding some color.

  2. Connor
    November 21, 2007 at 5:35 pm #

    …the media are once again blowing this out of proportion to get a rise out of people.

    I disagree… this was a pretty big issue before the SLTrib’s articles, with numerous blog posts of people venting their opposition to Sister Beck’s remarks.

    A quote in the article that you neglected to mention was: “We don’t have an agenda in that we weren’t trying to rebuke anybody…”

    As an example, let’s substitute Sister Beck for President Hinckley. Imagine, then, a group of people publicly voicing their opposition to the prophet’s words. They then dare to claim that they’re not trying to “rebuke” anybody, nor push an agenda. I find this to be silly… simply stating that they don’t have an agenda does not make it so. They are opposing what Sister Beck said in her talk to the women of the Church, and that very much is an agenda.

    I see it as a more inclusive, more global reiteration of what Sister Beck discussed in her talk-not a contradiction.

    There were several contradictions. When Sister Beck said that mothers should be tidy and orderly in their homes and dress, the online petition declared the unimportance of that issue. Other examples exist. This is not a reiteration or a restatement in different words – it is an opposition to what was said, dressed up as being more “inclusive”.

    I’m not sure of the context of her talk (was it to a general audience, or to just the ladies?).

    It was in this past General Conference. The entire church membership was audience to her words, approved by the prophet, and declared over the pulpit.

  3. Scott
    November 21, 2007 at 6:19 pm #

    “… if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.” (2 Ne 16:3)

    “What? know ye not that … which ye have [is] of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19)

    Thank you for quoting Orson F. Whitney’s The Soul’s Captain. It is one of my favorite poems, and I have memorized it along with Invictus.

    My wife told me that to get the full impact of Pres. Beck’s general conference address, I needed to review her gen. women’s address from the previous week. The two talks have wonderfully complimentary themes. I’m sorry that some dislike Pres. Beck’s comments. I can only speak for the wonderful Spirit I felt when I heard them the first time, and each time I have subsequently reviewed them.

    Ultimately, we are called upon to offer only two sacrifices; a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. I appreciated Elder Bruce D. Porter’s remarks on this matter at gen. conference: “When we remember the Savior and His suffering, our hearts too will break in gratitude for the Anointed One.” and “Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them.”

  4. RoAnn
    November 22, 2007 at 9:23 am #

    I would like to strongly second Connor’s post, his comment #2 and Scott’s comment #3.

    Being present when Sister Beck spoke was an energizing, almost electrifying experience for me, and for all the women I spoke with in the Conference Center after her talk.

    I realized that some women would be looking for things to criticize. But I was very disappointed to see how often Sister Beck was subsequently accused of saying things she didn’t say, implying things she didn’t even allude to, and how much her remarks were misrepresented in many ways in blog posts.

    Scott expressed my feeling exactly when he said in reference to her remarks

    I can only speak for the wonderful Spirit I felt when I heard them the first time, and each time I have subsequently reviewed them.

    To me, Sister Beck’s elaboration of some ways that we need to follow President Hinckley’s call to “stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord,” both in her General R.S. Meeting talk and her General Conference address, was exactly the kind of clear trumpet call we need to hear in these troubled times.

  5. salt h2o
    November 26, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    I was turned off immediately when I heard Sister Beck’s talk- my initial thought is it is going to take our generation, a more open minded generation to change things.

    When my mom went to BYU, the relief society president of the church at that time was so incredibly old school, that women had to wear a dress to class- so my mother never went to class when it was snowing- was wearing a dress to college God’s will? Hardly- it was backwards thinking of a dying generation.

    I wasn’t offended by Sister Beck’s talk; I did what I do when most women speak during conference- I left the room and ate breakfast (the sing songy voices of females speaking from the pulpit I’ll never understand).

    I don’t think what she said was offensive, nor by any means triumphant- I viewed it as her opinion, one that fits many women in the church, it just doesn’t fit me.

    The best way to fight this stereotype of women is not to sign some website, or create drama in the blogosphere- but to create change from with in. In the young women’s organization talk to the girls about college and careers instead of having wedding nights, and writing letters to their future husbands. We need to discuss financial responsibility and independence with these girls instead of how to be a good mother.

    Most importantly, women need to be secure in themselves and their relationships with the Savior. Only then will they be immune to what other women say or think about the life they choose to lead.

  6. Connor
    November 26, 2007 at 4:41 pm #

    …but to create change from with in.

    I’m not sure that’s the way the Lord works.

    We need to discuss financial responsibility and independence with these girls instead of how to be a good mother.

    Change “instead of” to “in addition to” and I’ll agree with you wholeheartedly.

  7. salt h2o
    November 26, 2007 at 5:14 pm #

    Connor- Forgive me but i’m going to digress for a moment

    I agree with you, the Lord doesn’t work that way on doctrine, but when it comes to church auxillaries, it’s exactly how he works. What we as members fail to realize is that there are many elements of the church that are formed by man. Key examples: Have you ever looked at the hand motions that go with Book of Mormon Stories? I just realized last week that they’re exceptionally offensive. It’s going to take a leader in the Primary to make the change. In 1998 I thought mission farwells were ridiculous- so when I left on my mission I didn’t have one, I spoke in church, but sacrament meeting was normal, not the SALT H2O show. Years later the church decides to come out with a statement saying there are no more farewells. The lesson manuals change frequently- Preach The Gospel comes out after using the 6 discussions for decades. We had Homemaking nights in Relief Society, now we have Home and Family Enrichment nights. Even elements of temple ceremonies have been changed due to the times in which we live. Then we go back to women having to wear skirts to BYU.

    The church evolves as it’s members do, but the doctrine will stay the same. Do you think Sherry Dew would have been in the Relief Society Presidency in 1950’s?

    Luckily, we belong to a church that preaches personal inspiration and revelation, we’re not asked to blindly obey or accept anything- and we get to discover truth for ourselves. Which is where I challenge women to live the life they feel inspired to lead, and not the one that has been planned out for them by their peers. As long as you are at peace with your God, that’s all that matters.

    As for teaching girls to be good mothers, I’m down with that as long as there is equal time spent with the deacons on how they can be good fathers.

  8. Yin
    November 26, 2007 at 10:58 pm #

    My understanding is that all the talks are reviewed and approved by the First Presidency before general conference. That means that prophets, seers, and revelators accepted Sister Beck’s words enough to let them be spoken in an authoritative manner over the pulpit as modern day scripture.

    I consider myself an independent, ambitious and strong woman. Salt H2O, I suspect you think the same of yourself. I could have let this talk bug me and get under my skin just a little, but I have faith in my church leaders. And if that faith waivers, I pray to the Lord for help in reconciling my own ideas and the ideas of the world with those of our inspired leaders.

    I guess my point is that being a mother is the most important calling we can ever have in this life (notice I said can and not will; I understand that being a mother may not be every women’s lot in life). Where applicable, nothing takes precedence over raising up children in righteousness, and in providing a home where the spirit can dwell. Nothing. It makes sense that a lot of focus will be given to this subject matter, especially as the world degrades the roll of mother. I totally agree that we need well-educated and well-rounded women in the church, but above all we need dedicated mothers.

  9. salt h2o
    November 27, 2007 at 9:35 am #

    I agree with you 100%-

    I re-read sister Beck’s talk and 95% of it is dead on- there is one line which turned me off. That is “Mother’s who know are nuturers” (agreed) which follows with “Another word for nuturing is homemaking . Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes, and keeping an orderly home…Latter Day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world”

    This line inferred that you can not nurture with out doing laundry, cooking and cleaning. Any way you slice it- there she said we as LDS women should not only do these things but be the best at it. See how that might be alienating?

    I cannot cook, I’m terrible at cleaning and I LOTHE laundry. It doesn’t mean I live in a home of squallor- my husband does a good number of those chores, we share in the load.

    The rest of her talk is indeed wonderful. I agree that motherhood is the most important calling/job a woman can have, but in this day and age, I’d hope we’d be a bit more open minded to where motherhood and housework are not synonymous

  10. Kaela
    November 27, 2007 at 2:11 pm #

    Salt h20, thank you for eloquently saying what I could not put into words. Yes-maybe writing a petition and starting a blog about this subject (as those women did) isn’t the most productive action that could have been taken, and I agree that being an individual example might be more effective. Just a few weeks ago we were learning at church about personal revelation. So long as it isn’t in direct dissonance with the church (because then it would hardly be personal revelation), we each are entitled to received guidance through prayer and the promptings of the Holy Ghost as to how things apply to our own individual situations and lives. We aren’t all, can’t all, and shouldn’t all be Suzy homemakers (because THAT would make life boring if we were all the same!) I can see how some might have felt excluded by Sister Beck’s talk. It was a good talk, but some might have found it hard to apply into their lives-especially in places where clean water isn’t available for drinking, let alone showering. It’s all in your perspective, your experiences, and your resources in life. In an age of a worldwide church, where there are more members outside of this country than domestically, an increasingly global perspective is required.

    You are exactly right-the church has and does change with the times (which is good!), and so long as the doctrine stays the same, then it’s all good. But I agree-God doesn’t care if we wear skirts to class (or work) or not! Let’s think of the big picture here, and not get so bogged down in the minute details.

    I have seen (as I’m sure others have) the other end of the spectrum, young women so jaded that they are here at BYU to find a husband and quit school or work so they can keep house for him and make babies, thus escaping the working world. I see nothing wrong with that if you feel that is your sole purpose in life, but motherhood is not for escaping the working world, cuz sisters, it’s a whole ‘nother line-o-work! But what happens if your husband loses his job or one day is in an accident and is unable to work. I think the church (and church leaders) are on to something when they are emphasizing well-roundedness in the ladies of the church. That it’s part of our duty in this life to learn as much as we can in school, church, and life, so that we are as prepared as we can be for whatever is thrown at us. So teach us to be good mothers, but also teach us to manage the finances, to crave education and knowledge. We can have both if we want it!

    Oh-and just my 2 cents…since women should know about finances, basic reparir, and have an education and all other things self sufficiency, then men should know how to cook and iron and do food storage! When are they going to teach THAT in priesthood? Luckily my husband already knows how to do those things…but I know there are some out there who don’t!

  11. Jay
    November 27, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    “Then men should know how to cook and iron and do food storage! When are they going to teach THAT in priesthood?”

    Makes me wonder if you’ve ever been to young men’s activities. Those things are most certainly beint taught, but more importantly, I hope they are not only being taught, but are required at home.

    I was also wondering about the comment on Book of Mormon Stories. I don’t recall from my experience as being the Primary chorister that the song book included any actions, so I’m guessing that whatever you found offensive must have been some local invention. I also did actions with the song, but I cannot imagine anything offensive about them since they were actual American Indian sign language. Just curious about your experience.

    Jay

  12. Russell
    November 27, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    Funny. My father-in-law said this has been creating a stir in his neighborhood in SLC as well.

  13. Carissa
    November 27, 2007 at 8:57 pm #

    I read through the “Women Who Know” website a few times and most of the things they “affirm” really are not contradictory to the gospel or to Sister Beck’s talk. There were a few things, however, that bothered me. First of all, Sister Beck never confined nurturing to motherhood or housekeeping, nor did she reduce motherhood and sisterhood to the “performance of narrowly prescribed tasks” as they suggested. Bearing and raising children and keeping an orderly home, though, are important parts of our nurturing role (as women) and apparently important enough to be emphasized in a General Conference address.

    Sister Beck was not trying to impose a “burden of outward appearances” or induce feelings of “shame and guilt” upon those of us who are lacking in this area. The gospel isn’t designed to burden us and make us feel bad about ourselves, but to help and inspire us, to show us a better way, and give us something to strive towards. Trying to maintain cleanliness and order in the home truly does “help create a climate for spiritual growth”. No, it is not the only thing we should do as mothers, but it is important nonetheless. Our homes need all the strengthening we can provide as the world grows more and more wicked. Focusing on this area in no way dismisses the many other good things we can do to invite the spirit, strengthen our homes, and teach our children.

    The subtle attacks on patriarchy bothered me, as did their interpretation of the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors which they determined was “not a success story”.

    Those are my thoughts anyway. Sister Beck’s conference talk inspired me to try harder and be better in all ways as a mother.

  14. Donna
    November 27, 2007 at 10:56 pm #

    I was lifted by the talk. I refocused.

    BTW she said that ‘Homemaking includes…” not homemaking is. I have worked with women over the years. Homes that are in disarray can be very distracting to the social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth of the inhabitants. The videos accompanying the talk showed mothers working with and teaching their children how to work. I have seven children and I know that there is more to family work than just getting the job done. There is a great opportunity to build relationships, share the gospel, and in short, make a house into a home, through shared experiences such as family work. The videos did not show mothers a doormats but as builders of character.

    A helpful article that long predates Becks video clips and talk is
    The Sacred Nature of Everyday Work by Kathleen Bahr at BYU published in Meridian Magazine
    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/voices/001025everydayprint.html

    I found the homemaking remarks in line with the rest of the message. An excellent talk. Too bad people were too quick to find exception rather than asking, “Father, what do I need to apply or understand from this talk?”

  15. Bishop Rick
    November 28, 2007 at 10:36 am #

    Women have never had equal status in the LDS and they never will. Only when LDS women start bailing out in huge numbers will any meaningful changes be made. I dont see that happening anytime soon.

  16. Connor
    November 28, 2007 at 10:54 am #

    Only when LDS women start bailing out in huge numbers will any meaningful changes be made.

    Riiiiight, because threatening membership stats is really the way the Prophet takes notice and changes doctrine. Uh huh.

  17. Carissa
    November 28, 2007 at 11:01 am #

    What do you mean by “equal status’. Priesthood responsibilities?

  18. Kaela
    November 28, 2007 at 12:11 pm #

    Bishop Rick, that’s a poor attitude, and I’m sorry for your wife. My husband makes ME feel like an equal. But not all husbands are so supportive.

    Jay, thanks for enlightening me. I am a recent convert to the church so I was not aware that they give ironing lessons in Young Mens.

    If you think meaningful changes need to be made [Bishop Rick] then why don’t you advocate for that. I’m not saying a revolution or complete upheaval, but it starts with individuals :) being examples in the home and in your ward. Lets not perpetuate this sad stereotype.

  19. Kaela
    November 28, 2007 at 12:22 pm #

    I should have looked a littler further. In Connor’s next post this caught my attention:

    The father and mother are equal partners with different roles in nurturing and teaching their family members on the journey to immortality and eternal life. (James E. Faust, “Eternity Lies before Us,” Ensign, May 1997, 18)

    Equal partners, different roles.

    If women aren’t equal, it’s in your OWN eyes. Because the church CLEARLY preaches equality. And if women aren’t seen as equals within the church, then it’s the individual’s problem…not the church’s.

  20. Russell
    November 28, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    @Rick

    Status? Since when was the church about status? I also think you are mistaken to believe that we as members of the church can somehow democratically vote to change God’s eternal plan.

  21. Carissa
    November 28, 2007 at 1:00 pm #

    If women aren’t equal, it’s in your OWN eyes. Because the church CLEARLY preaches equality. And if women aren’t seen as equals within the church, then it’s the individual’s problem…not the church’s.

    Exactly Kaela. Well said.

  22. Bishop Rick
    November 28, 2007 at 3:00 pm #

    Let me use a different example. The Bill of Rights says “All men are created equal.” Quite clearly all “men” are not treated equally in this country and they never will be treated equally. Show me a woman who has equal chances to attain the same positions in the LDS structure as a man does. Im telling you it just isnt gonna happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Having said that, I stand behind my previous post. Now if some or all women want to believe they are equals in the eyes of the LDS then that’s just fine with me. I can only paint them a picture. I cant make them look at it.

  23. Bishop Rick
    November 28, 2007 at 3:13 pm #

    Quote from Connor – Riiiiight, because threatening membership stats is really the way the Prophet takes notice and changes doctrine. Uh huh.

    During the days of polygamy the U.S. Government threatened to take away the tax exempt status of the LDS if they didnt abolish the practice of men having more than one wife. So what happened? The Prophet took notice and made some drastic changes in a very short period of time. Why do you think the Prophet made the changes? Let me answer that. If no changes were made the LDS was in effect going to be put out of business. You may hear other reasons but the real reason was he had no choice. The Government put a gun to his head and the Prophet capitulated.

  24. Kaela
    November 28, 2007 at 3:25 pm #

    You’re missing the point. Just because I can’t be a bishop or an apostle, doesn’t mean I’m not EQUAL. You are speaking of equality in the sense of power-but in the LDS church POWER does not equal status or position. Just because I don’t hold the priesthood doesn’t make me less important. I can have just as much (if not more) influence on my family, and the world around me.

    It’s clear that President Hinckley thinks of himself as no ‘better’ than the next person, and I doubt that in his sweet, humble mind when he meets people that he thinks “You are not my qual because I’m the Prophet.” That’s what makes him so amazing, and most prophet-like! Recall how he speaks of his sweet wife-he clearly admired her a great deal and all the things she handled in life, from her responsibilities at home, to her ‘position’ as the wife of the prophet. Supporting her husband in his calling and travling with him was nearly as exhausting for her as it is for him.

    Furthermore, mothers have a responsibility (and might I point out fathers too) to raise their children NOT to think the way that you do, because perpetuating that defeatist attitude is the root cause of the problem. That equality begins with how YOU view women and how you teach your children to view each other and those around them. The very paradigms and values you instill in them from the beginning.

    Part of the problem lies in the fact that women in this country (and abroad) are STILL not treated equally to begin with. It’s not just an LDS problem. Change begins on an individual level.

    By the way, who do you think goes to bed with the authorities of the church? That’s right…their WIVES! Who do you think holds the most ‘power’ and ‘influence’ in their [the men’s] lives?!

  25. Bishop Rick
    November 28, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    You make some very good points there Kaela and I agree with you on most of them. There are plenty of females in Congress and the US Senate. There are also quite a few female governors. Quite possibly you will see a female President of the US next year. I dont think it is too much to ask the LDS to allow women into the priesthood. But that is NEVER going to happen. Not today, not tomorrow, NEVER. Is it too much to ask to just have a little dialogue within the LDS hierarchy for this to happen someday? And let me assure you, there are levels of “status” in the LDS. Many, many levels.

  26. salt h2o
    November 28, 2007 at 4:41 pm #

    Rick,
    You’re under the dillusion that women WANT the priesthood! Any woman that wants the priesthood OBVIOUSLY doesn’t understand it.

    Priesthood is not that of authority, but service. My personal HE11 would be to be an excutive secretary or heaven forbid- a Bishop- NO personal time, all you do is deal with other peoples problems- calls in the middle of the night, everyone in the ward turning to you for answers and help, it’s a calling of service. Quite honestly I think the women of the church do enough service with out wanting the extra burden of the priesthood.

    Every day I go to church I come up with another reason I am GRATEFUL I do not have the priesthood. Usually it involves meetings.

    I’m curious Rick, why do you think women want the priesthood? What would we do with it?

  27. Connor
    November 28, 2007 at 4:45 pm #

    I dont think it is too much to ask the LDS to allow women into the priesthood. But that is NEVER going to happen. Not today, not tomorrow, NEVER.

    You are absolutely right. But not being LDS, you of course do not understand how such decisions are brought about. You of course feel that polygamy was a personal organizational decision made by the prophet, and that is your right. Most LDS will disagree with you. To be sure, there can be external factors that lead to revelation on any given topic – Blacks and the Priesthood, the organization of the Relief Society, Word of Wisdom, etc. But to suggest that you can change God’s will through a bottom-up effort of disgruntled individuals is silly.

    God speed.

  28. Allie
    November 28, 2007 at 5:00 pm #

    When I first started thinking about Sister Beck’s talk, I really didn’t get why so many were upset by it, but then I heard about family and friends who felt pushed to the edge because they didn’t feel like they could meet such high standards. These are smart, capable women.

    I think Sister Beck had a wonderful message, but should have adjusted her delivery to allow women in all situations to at least take bits of it into their lives instead of making those who feel like they don’t fit the mold feel like failures.

    My brother commented that not everything a teacher says applies to every student all of the time. I think it’s up to us to take what learning we can and apply it in our lives, but know that we don’t have to be perfect, and it isn’t fair to ourselves to try to be.

  29. Yin
    November 28, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    Rick, you keep equating equality in the priesthood with equality between LDS men and women, and it is not so. Not having the priesthood has nothing to do with my status as a woman, a wife, or a member of the church. And having it would not “equalize” me with men. I feel very equal with my brothers in the church. Priesthood has nothing to do with it.

  30. Yin
    November 28, 2007 at 5:33 pm #

    And just for the record, I would never want the priesthood either! :)

  31. Kaela
    November 28, 2007 at 6:01 pm #

    And let me assure you, there are levels of “status” in the LDS. Many, many levels.

    Rick-again, those levels of ‘status’ are self inflicted. There is only status if you care about status. In ANY culture there are going to be people of different socio-economic backgrounds, if that’s what you’re referring to. Anyone who looks at ‘status’ in the LDS church as positions of power is totally missing the point. It’s not about power, it’s about service. Going back to ‘the church/gospel is perfect, but the people are not’ and the ludicrous LDS subculture that is prevalent in highly concentrated areas.

    When I was joining the church (almost a year ago) that was one of my first questions-why can’t women hold the priesthood or serve in major positions of authority within the church. The answer I was given (BY A WOMAN) was so great that I never asked again!

    She told me, simply :) that men hold the priesthood to mold them into better men, men that lead, men that serve, men that care about others. If you think about it, women are ‘generally’ more nurturing, serving, and caring-it’s our ‘natural’ instinct, so the priesthood was given to men in order to shape these characteristics more fully in them. I thought it made sense, and from what I’ve seen, holding the priesthood worthily makes for a ‘higher caliber’ of man. It’s not about power, it’s about service (to echo the words of other posts).

    In no way, have I ever felt inferior because I do not hold the priesthood. In fact, the more I think about it, there is no way I’d want the responsibility of the priesthood! But I am grateful for the priesthood holders in my life.

    PS-you want to start ripping on the Catholic church? You don’t see too many female ‘priests’ there either…

  32. Bishop Rick
    November 28, 2007 at 8:23 pm #

    The day will come when you will see female Catholic priests. That is only a matter of time and it will be sooner than later. More than likely within ten years.

  33. Carissa
    November 28, 2007 at 8:50 pm #

    I think Sister Beck had a wonderful message, but should have adjusted her delivery to allow women in all situations to at least take bits of it into their lives instead of making those who feel like they don’t fit the mold feel like failures.

    Yet… should they stop preaching about tithing so those who don’t fit into the mold of “perfect tithe-payer” won’t feel like failures? Should they stop preaching about chastity because, let’s face it, there are so many who fall short of perfection in that category? What about the word of wisdom? The attributes we develop and the value we place on motherhood (and, for those who can’t have children, you don’t necessarily have to be a mother to value motherhood or develop nurturing attributes) is just as much a choice as being a full tithe payer or anything else. For some it comes easy, for others it is harder.

    Also, there was more to her talk than encouraging us to be better at housework. There was the part about honoring covenants, standing strong and immovable, being teachers, being leaders, and my favorite part: choosing carefully and not choosing it all (in other words, don’t feel pressured to be perfect and do everything all at once!) I loved how she talked about being selective in our activities so we can maximize our influence where it matters most. I think that is worthwhile advice for anyone, in any situation, to hear.

    If we feel like failures, it isn’t because she “made” us feel that way. She even ends her talk by saying she has confidence in the women of the church. We can feel inadequate, (God’s standards are not low in any area) but that often just helps us resolve to do better. When she says Latter Day Saint women “should be the best homemakers in the world” I think what she is trying to get across is we should put our best efforts into strengthening our homes and families. I don’t think she is trying to set an unachievable high standard of perfect cleanliness and organization.

  34. Allie
    November 28, 2007 at 11:08 pm #

    Carissa,
    I totally agreed with you a couple of days ago. Since then I’ve heard from friends and family members, all amazing, capable mothers. Women I admire and look up to, who are really doing the best that they can who were reduced to tears during this talk.

    You say that you don’t think Sister Beck meant to set an unachievable high standard, (and I agree) but that’s our interpretation of her words, obviously there were many women who interpreted the same words very differently. How much would have been different if Sister Beck had said, “We don’t need to try to meet an unachievable standard, but we do need to do the best we can”.

    Then there wouldn’t have been a question over what she really meant.

  35. Carissa
    November 28, 2007 at 11:37 pm #

    She could have, yes. But using our knowledge of the gospel, do we really think God expects more of us than we can handle? I could have been one of those women too, I also cried during the talk because I felt inadequate. But to be perfectly honest, deep down inside I knew that I could be doing better at all of the things she mentioned. I can choose how I use my time and it doesn’t always reflect my priorities like I want it to. So it was a hopeful sorrow that gave me the desire to try harder.

    While I feel sorry for anyone who felt discouraged (and some people really are just too hard on themselves) I think we need to own our feelings and take talks like these in context of the entire gospel. I am uncomfortable with putting so much blame on the speaker. I hope I don’t come across as insensitive. I’ve learned to recognize where that discouraging and hopeless feeling of “you’re not good enough” comes from. It is not from our leaders or from God, but it sneaks through the back door whenever possible. We need to be aware of it’s true source with open eyes and get rid of it.

  36. Allie
    November 29, 2007 at 8:59 am #

    I agree with you, and I’ve made the same arguments on my blog. I’ve just come to see that much of what is done in the church comes from personal opinion (and I don’t think conference talks are prescreened by the first presidency, President Hinckley, I think said once that they weren’t).

    In late editions of Mormon Doctrine, published by Deseret Book, there is a disclaimer saying that it is a product of the culture and time in which it was written. In the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples, black people were allowed to receive endowments and men could hold the priesthood and serve missions. It wasn’t until Brigham Young that it changed. I’m not saying that Brigham Young was a false prophet by any means, but I think the Lord gives us much latitude for making our own mistakes, and I do feel like it was a mistake for Sister Beck to let such an important message be overshadowed by this feeling of inadequacy for those who don’t fit the mold (which I agree does not come from the church).

  37. Bishop Rick
    November 29, 2007 at 9:44 am #

    Kaela, if you want to test the equality of your marriage just tell your husband that you are thinking about changing your name back to your maiden name. I doubt that your husband would allow you to do that.
    Now if my wife wanted to go back to using her maiden name I would say to her, “Go for it, I think you should do that if it makes you happy.”

  38. Connor
    November 29, 2007 at 9:59 am #

    Rick, you sure do have a warped sense of what equality is. I can think of much better tests than that.

  39. Connor
    November 29, 2007 at 10:20 am #

    …and I don’t think conference talks are prescreened by the first presidency, President Hinckley, I think said once that they weren’t.

    Allie, I’d love to see a source for that.

  40. John
    November 29, 2007 at 10:21 am #

    Rick,

    Let me get this straight. If one partner doesn’t allow any request from the other, they aren’t equal?

    That’s an interesting premise.

    If your wife asked you to wear a tutu to work everyday, how could you possibly deny her and say that you are indeed equal partners?!

    ;)

  41. Kaela
    November 29, 2007 at 10:34 am #

    Rick, you are digressing from the issue at hand. I’m sorry that you’ve reduced this to a personal attack.

    For the record, I USED to BE Catholic, and I can tell you that female priests-ain’t happening in 10 years! (at least not recognized by the official Catholic church under the Pope)

    Furthermore, I changed my last name because I LIKED my new one better (it fits my first name better). I’ve actually had this conversation with my husband. While he prefers that we have the same last name (for convenience sake) if it made me happier to change back to my old last name (or to have skipped changing my last name in the first place), I KNOW that he would support me in that :) Please don’t judge-you’ve never met me, OR my husband.

  42. Allie
    November 29, 2007 at 11:10 am #

    Conner, I can’t find the talk that I thought I remembered. This one might have been it April 2001

    If I find one more specific I’ll let you know. This one just says that none of the speakers are assigned topics, “And yet all of the talks seem to harmonize, one with another, each a thread in the tapestry of a grand and beautiful pattern”. That makes me think they are not previewed, but again, it seemed like there was a talk that said directly.

    In my search I found a great talk from October of 96 that Women should re-read. If Sister Beck had quoted even just a tiny bit of this in her talk, no one would have been upset. It’s just to acknowledge that people have differing circumstances and that we are doing the best we can, and that is all that is asked of us.

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1996.htm/ensign%20november%201996.htm/women%20of%20the%20church.htm?fn=document-frame.htm$f=templates$3.0

  43. Donna
    November 29, 2007 at 3:07 pm #

    @RICK

    Being born equal, means equal rights. The right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It does not promise that each person will have equal outcomes. Nor does it mean everyone would be treated equally.

    In the gospel, women have equal standing before the Lord in receiving the ordinances of salvation, having prayers heard & answered, receiving personal revelation, the gifts of the spirit, and more. In the temple women officiate.

    Men may get the priesthood, but women get other blessings, greater ones, greater promises, I dare say. Some of those blessings can not be remedied by a proclamation and are eternal in nature.

    In the eternities, man is not without woman and woman is not without man. You can not reach the highest status as a single person of either gender. Even if you were Abraham of some other righteous priesthood holder. No matter what sacrifice you made.

    Most of the negative was attacking things Beck did not say. I feel a person needs to go to lds.org and watch her talk, along with the video clips. Most, totally were off base on what she was teaching.

  44. Bishop Rick
    November 29, 2007 at 6:11 pm #

    Kaela, where, when, and how did I attack you personally? I didn’t. Now I may not agree with ALL of your opinions but I would never personally attack you. I like hearing your opinions and I respect them. I may think some of your opinions are misguided but I will fight to my death for your right to express them along with your religious beliefs.

  45. alea
    November 30, 2007 at 11:08 am #

    Um, Sister Beck is not ordained, unless we’ve started giving Priesthood to church-level Relief Society leaders, nor is she a General Authority (though you have “general authority”, which is accurate, perhaps, if misleading).

    Minor quibbles, but pretty important if you’re the sort that claims that Priesthood is what we’re respecting, at least in part, in the offices of our leaders.

  46. L. Brown
    December 1, 2007 at 2:40 am #

    Fo da Bishop Rick:

    Ey mate, it’s not about “attaining position” and it’s not an “LDS structure.” Actually it’s about getting back to Heavenly Father’s presence in the Celestial kingdom. Stop making something so easy so complicated. Actually, maybe you should repent and not paint your own picture, look at the one that God already made.

  47. Bill
    December 4, 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    There are two phenomena here at work with regards to Sr. Beck’s talk.

    1) The philosophies of men mingled with scripture. You see how they mix in liberal women’s agenda into gospel principles.
    2) The American culture is part of who we are no matter what other background we may have including religious background. Many people here on this blog have shown how much they listen to pop culture before they listen to the church leaders.

    See the following talk:

    Ezra Taft Benson, “The Honored Place of Woman,” Ensign, Nov 1981, 104

    After this address where Pres. Benson advises mothers to remember that no greater work can be done than within the walls of your own home, there was an equal uprising in murmurings. Women saying, “Who does he think he is? He doesn’t know me and my situation.” Forgive me, but I thought he was the prophet. If you don’t believe he is the prophet, why are you a member of this church? And if you’re not, why do you care what he says? Rick, I’d ask you a similar question. If you’re not a Mormon, why do you care what we say or do or believe?

    I moved from an area in California recently where many of the mothers were so grateful when the school year started. They just wanted to be rid of their kids. Many others chose a possibly wiser, possibly more foolish route and didn’t have any children.

    When people learned that my wife not only enjoyed rearing her children, but planned on homeschooling, they were aghast that she would take that on herself. The women were futher blanched as she told them that I worked from home. They said they couldn’t believe she could stand to be around her husband all day. They would be happy if they only got to see their husbands a few hours a week.

    I often wondered why they had kids in the first place. I wondered why these women married men they didn’t want to be around. My wife commented that she was from that old throw-back of Mormons that marry men they actually LOVE.

    Rick, Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it say “All men are created equal”. It says it in the Declaration of Independence. This shows your common method of (il)logic. You bring up ideas you’ve heard because it sounds cool to say. But you never really studied or gave tremendous thought to them. You may be close, but keep missing the mark. Your entire series of comments is merely a repetition of hearsay and rumor that you’ve obviously gotten from people who have never known of the FLAVOR of being a Latter-Day Saint. And here you have an entire cadre of individuals who live it and know. Yet we are all just “misguided”. Gee, you sound like you’re really open minded.

    The main thing to understand is that the family is really the only place of importance. Other places like church and work and societies may enrich, enlighten, and edify. But the primary place where life happens is in the family. It is in the family that Fathers and Mothers have equal authority. It is in a marriage that a husband and wife share authority, responsibility, joy, and heartache. It is in the family that the greatest joys are realized. It is the family that is eternal.

    All other places including church might be more showy. But they are not eternal. Even the Church as an organization will cease to exist after the cycle of the earth is done.

    The glory of men and public recognition are the things that the world seeks to attain. But they’re just dust in the wind.

    It is no wonder that the world cringes at the thought of traditional marriage and the private joys it offers. It is no wonder the world shuns us as a hyper-patriarchal cult who dares to say that women who want to rear children are blessed daughters of God.

    I’ve often thought that the “women’s movement” was really just the greatest Tom Sawyer joke of all time. Go, leave your homes and get into the rat race. YES!

    Don’t get me wrong. I DO believe that both men and women should have the necessary skills to do both roles. But if you read Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Steven Covey, and many others, you will find that no one possesses the ability to be all things. It is ideal to have a team with divided specialties and responsibilities. When there is abandonment, death etc. The ward family is there to help pick up the slack. But it can never replace the missing parts of a team that was as close as a family.

    My LDS boss called me into his office one day and said, “Hey, Bill. Guess what.”.

    Being the contrarian I am, instead of saying, “What”, I guessed.

    You got a day off work? No, better than that.
    You got your tax refund early? No. BETTER.
    You got an all expense paid trip around the world? No BETTER.
    You won the lottery? No, BETTER.
    You got released from the bishipric? no . . .

    In case you missed it, he recognized that a “high position” in the church is not a position of leisure, power, or any reason to celebrate.

    But then maybe you’re right. Maybe the rat race is where it’s at. Maybe we should listen to men instead of to God. Maybe being recognized by men is more important than being recognized by God. Maybe we should recognize that government is more important that family or religion. Maybe we should see that Hollywood has more to offer in the way of lasting happiness than good old fashioned family and religious values. Maybe we’ll all be better off if we make God in our image instead of trying to emulate the God that created us.

    Then again, maybe not.

  48. Bill
    December 4, 2007 at 8:54 pm #

    By the way, I thought it was very interesting that Sis. Beck’s talk was about “Mothers” who know. But the wesite with the petition was “Women” who know. I think this puts into perspective the priorities of each source.

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