DEBORAH: If you’re an LDS woman and you watched the January 2018 press conference that followed the formation of the new First Presidency, you likely have a particular moment carved into your brain—that prolonged moment when Pres. Russell M. Nelson responded to a question posed by Peggy Fletcher Stack (Salt Lake Tribune) regarding forthcoming advances in gender equity and diversity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First he gave a tribute to her family, followed by a salute to the diversity of men who lead the Church in 188 nations, which included a reminder that “somebody’s going to be left out, but it doesn’t matter because the Lord’s in charge.”
Once he finished responding, Stack, from her seat and without benefit of a mic, can barely be heard to nudge, “What about the women?” President Nelson’s response? “I love them.” (See 18:43 to 22:40 of previous link.)
A few days ago, By Common Consent published guest blogger Kenneth Merrill’s “What I Wish My Prophet Would Say,” which is his six-point wish list for change announcements to be made in the upcoming April 2020 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To recap, he asks the First Presidency to put its weight into commanding members not to kick one another out of the Church or their homes, to be inclusive, to be environmentally aware, and to admit the church has done some abusive things, including protecting sex offenders. By the close of it, Stack’s faint voice was ringing in my mind: “What about the women?” Continue reading “What About the Women (Again)?”
DEBORAH: Look out. April General Conference is nearly here, so out they come—the prognosticators and their prognostications. And why not? President Nelson has told us “the Restoration continues,” teasing us into setting up this figurative roulette wheel. Even the most ardent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t afraid to give it a spin, but the sisters of Relief Society are particularly invested, realizing they may be earmarked for changes. Of course, there’s a chasm in the women’s organization, particularly at the local level, with some standing on the vocal The-Way-It-Is-Is-the-Way-of-the-Lord side and others on the hushed Ask-and-Ye-Shall-Receive-Because-(some of)-this Stinks side. The one thing I’m confident in predicting is that, if any changes come that increase the visibility and influence of women, both sides of the chasm will join in a rousing cheer. Continue reading “Pre-General Conference List of Cheery Things for Relief Society Sisters”
LAURA: I listened to Saturday morning’s session of General Conference with interest. There were rumors in online Mormonland that this change to a 2-hour block was coming and so I wasn’t entirely surprised by it. I was surprised by the way it jumbled my feelings though.
As Pres. Nelson shared the story of a family who held church in their home, I felt grief and frustration. He shared how the husband was more careful about his language and tone in their home, knowing that it was under that roof he would bless the sacrament. Four years ago, I had friends who were excommunicated for doing the same. Although the surrounding circumstances were different, it was a painful reminder that the church is not the same wherever you go. Continue reading “Home-centered and Church-supported Mormonism in Context”
READER POST: In his October General Conference talk, “The Ministry Of Reconciliation,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland states, “Surely each of us could cite an endless array of old scars and sorrows and painful memories that this very moment still corrode the peace in someone’s heart or family or neighborhood.” I have those scars. In fact, I do not attend church right now because it is not a safe place for me. People don’t ever ask why, but they are quick to tell me to forgive and forget and beware of pride and victimization. Continue reading “Yes, I Can Forgive…”
SERENA: I have never been a leader worshiper. I believe the brethren serve out of a place of love. We are all fallible, our human leaders included, and I worship Jesus Christ, not man. I have admiration and respect for the apostles, general authorities and general officers of the Church who devote so much of their lives to the service of our Heavenly Father. I believe they are good men and women doing their best to do the will of the Lord. I sustain them by listening and seeking revelation as to how to apply their teachings in my life in ways that strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father and help me be more in tune with His will for me. Continue reading “The Good in General Conference”
READER POST: Buttermilk, powdered sugar, cream cheese: the cashier is bagging my Target purchases when I hear a familiar male voice, a neighborhood friend’s. “You must be getting ready to make something delicious for conference weekend,” he says. “Are you excited to listen?”
Before I can answer, he starts talking about how eager he is to hear the prophet’s voice. I smile, swipe my REDCard, gather my bag, and leave, voiceless.
His is just another in a long line of Mormon male voices I heard this week, this horrible week before General Conference, voices trying to tell me something about the choices I make in my life, what they believe I should believe, which parts of women’s experiences are valid or valuable. Continue reading “The Mormon Male Voice”
READER POST: Just imagine:
“When we omit Her name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Her as the central focus of our lives.
“Taking our Heavenly Mother’s name upon us includes declaring and witnessing to others—through our actions and our words—that She is our Mother. Have we been so afraid to offend someone who doesn’t believe in Her that we have failed to defend the Mother Herself, to stand up for Her even in the name by which we call Her? Continue reading “The Correct Name of Our Mother in Heaven”
DEBORAH: I hear with different ears than those I heard with in my youth. As a new convert, then a wife and young mother, I heard the men at the General Conference podium through ears of hope and expectation. I relished their promises that following their counsel—being a wife devoted to the betterment of my husband in both career and church, being a sacrificing mother intent on raising my children in a new, exciting gospel—would result in a happiness unmatched outside the reach of the gospel. Every inch of my soul longed to please God and, with my whole heart, I trusted the men called to speak for Him.
I’m at the other end of life now. I’ve raised my children and am watching them raise theirs. I’ve lived as is prescribed for Mormon women. I earned an education—a bachelor’s before marriage and a master’s degree in midlife—but I’ve not had paying, full-time employment since my first child was born. I ensured my children learned the gospel; we attended our meetings, held callings, and lived an existence centered around the church and gospel.
When I listened to General Conference last weekend, I listened with the ears of an experienced Mormon woman and with eyes wide-opened by time. While most of General Conference was uplifting, some of it rang as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Certain things said leave me wondering if some of the men who lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand women at all. Continue reading “Women, How Will You Travel the Covenant Path?”
READER POST: Tonight, as I go to sleep, I am deeply troubled, and so are others in the LGBTQ community of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint. This weekend, at the bi-annual General Conference, our leaders waxed spiritual over the pulpit. Most speakers talked of Jesus Christ and of his healing atonement. However, one speaker chose another way and probably turned away both members and perspective members. Continue reading “Mormon and Transgender: A Human Response to Institutional Mormon Transphobia”