The Discernment Myth

DEBORAH: In LDS theology, discernment is a God-given ability of priesthood leaders that allows them a type of spiritual eyes with which to judge people under their stewardship. Discernment is at play when a stake president selects a new bishop, or a bishop calls his ward’s auxiliary presidents, but discernment is also alleged to help leaders spiritually sense when someone isn’t living the commandments or is in need of specific, divine guidance he alone can voice for them. It’s a lofty idea but also a dangerous one.

The idea of discernment took a few solid blows to the chops last week when news broke that two bishops, one in Idaho and one in  Utah, currently stand accused of serious sexual misconduct. Here in our little quorum of sisters there have been incidents where discernment failed us. Pilar’s story comes to mind (read here and here). Several of our SQ readers have shared their personal experiences in which the discernment of priesthood leaders was absent when they needed it present. As examples, both SQ readers Jane and Verlyne shared that, after being raped, their bishops held disciplinary councils against them on the grounds of fornication and exacted punishment, even disfellowshipment (read Jane’s story here and Verlyne’s here). There’s no end to the pain caused when discernment fails.

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A Betrayed Woman is an Abused Woman

TW: Infidelity, adultery

JUNE: Do you know what it is like to not trust yourself? Everything is upside down and backwards and all you can do is float through your own life like a helpless spectator who forgot to take off her cheap 3-D glasses when the movie was over. If you do, you may have a past like mine. I was the wife of a serial adulterer.

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Sex Offenders in Church Leadership is Not News

READER POST: To gain perspective on the church’s problem with sex offenders in leadership, it’s good to take a look at religious news. The Southern Baptist conference is finding itself in deep yogurt on this topic, with journalists and Monday Morning Quarterbacks alike taking great delight in pointing out the issues that led to repeated and sustained cover-ups of pastoral abuse.

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Enough

LEAH: My heart is racing. I can’t believe you’ve done it again.

The card in my cold, shaking hands is addressed directly to my seven-year-old daughter. It wishes her a happy birthday and is signed, “your Primary presidency.”

You’re not her Primary presidency. You don’t even know her. But you and I know that this is far from the first time our name has been on your ward council’s agenda. This isn’t just a card. This is the beginning of another exhausting series of intrusive confrontations with you. Continue reading “Enough”