Wednesday, April 05, 2006

thoughts on general conference (aka, three things that bothered me)

i have a huge stack of papers that i need to finish grading, so i'll have to make this quick.

two are from sister bell.

1- she kept on insisting that men and women are equal in the church... over and over and over again.

news to sister bell. men and women are not equal in the church. some guy could not have gotten up and given this same talk.

2-she said that god looks at the rich and poor equally.

god does not look upon them equally. god has said plenty of great things about the poor. the rich do not fair so well in god's eyes. they're pretty much condemned every time.

3-the third comes from elder packer. he claims to be quoting alma the younger and says that alma said, "Know ye not, my son, that unchastity is an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?" however, alma did not say that. alma actually says "Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination..." packer has to reword the verse in order to back up his unscriptural victorian sexual ethics. corianton was hardly guilty of mere unchastity. alma specifically says what corianton did. alma tells corianton, "Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel...O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words. And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction..." rather than unchastity, the grievousness of coriantons sins were in his leaving the ministry after the harlot isabel (which hugh nibley argues had nothing to do with sex, but with idol worship), which led others away from christ. alma's condemnation of corianton sounds much more like his alma's own condemnation of his own past, which he relayed to helaman: "Yea, and I had amurdered• many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction;" i'm not saying that sexual sins do not need to be dealt with, but that such unscriptural victorian sexual ethics (and the resulting judgments) cause more damage then needed.

time to get back to grading papers...


  1. Loyd, I think that points #1 and #3 are semantic issues, and can be construed (or misconstrued) however you please. For example, men and women are "equal" in some ways, but not in others. I wouldn't let either of those two bother you too seriously.

    However, I find Point #2 very compelling. Seriously. Thanks for the insight. I'm going to look into it.

    Sorry, I don't know why I feel the need to offer my two cents on everything. Feel free to completely disregard what I say.

  2. russ. i wish more people were like you and responded to things i say. i get the feeling that you're the only of the byu folk that like me anymore.

    while 1 and 3 are largely semantic issues, i think that kind of rhetoric is implicitly oppressive. perhaps reading too much stuart hall and cultural studies have ruined me.

  3. Just so you know, I forgot to turn off my sound before I got on your page this morning duing my Criminal Justice class. It took me a second to figure out where the music was coming from and why the teacher was glaring at me.

  4. #1 - exactly!! I kept thinking, "the lady protests too much." obviously if women and men were equal, she wouldn't have spoken about it at length. either it would have gone without saying, or it would have been mentioned in passing as a natural, "of course" kind of thing.

  5. Okay, looking at it that way I can see implicit oppressiveness. Also, heather p. makes a good point, if you equate how things SHOULD BE and how they actually are. In theory, members of the Church shouldn't have to hear this talk, because everyone should already recognize men and women as "equal partners." Just like we shouldn't have to hear about racism, or pornography, or a thousand other things. But in reality, members can be just as sexist, racist, etc. as anyone else. So we have to have the principles reinforced. Throw in the whole world-wide, multi-cultural Church thing, and that's a lot of -isms to deal with.

  6. because everyone should already recognize men and women as "equal partners."

    except that men and women are in fact not equal in the church. the institutional distribution of priesthood is unequal. the distribution of callings is unequal (why can't a sunday school president be a woman?). the church is institutionally sexist and unequal.

  7. Disagreed on all three points.

    1) Men and women are equal in the church in that they all have access to the same blessings. That was Beck's point. She wasn't saying that there is institutional equality in the present church, or equal distribution of priesthood power. You're putting words into her mouth.

    2) There is nothing in the scriptures to indicate that poverty is a virtue and wealth is a vice. Rather it's people's actions and feelings towards riches, rich people, or poor people that God condemns.

    3) It makes logical sense that "these things" mentioned by Alma is breaking the law of chastity, not going home early from your mission. Murder and adultery both have to do with the keys of life, making them difficult to pay restitution for.

    When Alma tells Corianton not to sin anymore, he says "go no more after the lusts of your eyes." Corianton's sin is clearly lust for the harlot, which he acted upon, instead of "crossing himself" as his father implored.

    Also, Alma goes on for three subsequent chapters about the resurrection of the body, which is more fitting if Corianton's sin is unchastity.

  8. What are "victorian sexual ethics"? I would google this, but I am afraid of what might come up.

  9. I still like you Loyd (see your first comment). I enjoy reading your posts, and like to see things from your point of view.
    As for this post, I have a few things I agree with and a few things I don't.
    #1 I think men and women are supposed to be equal in a spiritual sense, not so much by what kind of callings they can have. (I think equal in a balancing kind of way)
    #2 I'm with SO.
    #3 I agree that Elder Packer may have interpreted the scripture for what he was discussing, but I think that happens a lot. The spiritual nature of the scriptures allow for everyone to apply the scriptures to different events in their own lives(or others).

    The only reason I don't usually comment on here is because I'm not very good with explaining myself, and everyone else on here is really smart.

  10. i find this all interesting.

    to the narrator (my bro).
    "the church is institutionally sexist and unequal" - is this bad? we can also say that real life is institutionally sexist and unequal. I can't have a baby! (no complaints, but food for thought)

    was there anything you liked about conference?

  11. Loyd,
    Although a little off topic, I'm taking a women's study course this term. It should be interesting. The first day I was confronted with this class I thought to myself, "Hmm, maybe I'll become as much of a feminist as Loyd. Well, probably not."

    Hope all is well.

  12. s.o.,

    1. men and women do not have access to the same blessings. women do not have the blessing of possessing the priesthood. women do not have the 'blessing' of having men covenanted to be submissive to them. men and women are not equals in the practice of the church today.

    2. i didn't say 'wealth' if all have wealth or all have riches, there is no problem. you constantly bring up this pathetic straw man and i am constantly repeating that i am refering to one person being rich while another is poor. that is repeatedly condemned in the scriptures.

    3. it is not clearly that way. first of all, alma refers to 'things' - plural. and as i pointed out, alma's comparison of murder and murder-like sin is best understood in the context of what he said just a few chapters before - leading away others from the gospel.

  13. anon, the victorian age (especially late 19th century) was largely marked with a fear and disdain of anything remotely sexual.

    from wikipedia Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company; instead, the preferred euphemism “limb” was used. Those going for a dip in the sea at the beach would use a bathing machine. Verbal or written communication of emotion or sexual feelings was also often proscribed so people instead used the language of flowers.

    here is a flash game to learn and test your victorian ethics.

  14. heather,

    1. joseph smith said that a religion that could not help someone's secular life had not right in trying to provide them with relgious help. shouldn't this include equality?

    2. s.o. is just wrong.

    3. i think it's fine to reinterpret and rework scriptures to teach. nephi tells us to liken the scriptures to ourselves. for packer to say that alma taught "unchastity is...most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost" is just false.

  15. chris,

    anyone who uses zeitgeist and pathos in a gc talk has some level of coolness for me. i think his talk had some interesting aspects if we start talking about the zeitgeist of war. i also liked the talk about avoiding straw man arguements. i missed pres hinckley's condemnation of racism in the church. i think it's a good step.

  16. maggie, i hope you enjoy the class. i just read a paper on a feminist critique of the current practice of mormon theology today. there is this sliver of fear in the back of my mind that i'm going to have the bishopric wanting to meet me. of course, i've lived in the ward for a year (and have gone most sundays the last 5 months) and have yet to meet the guy. he's definitely no collette (who, bytheway, i got an e-mail from a few weeks ago). if/when i ever actually end up talking to the bishop, i'm going to tell him that i think he's doing a lousy job. yes, i haven't actively gone to meet him, but i haven't avoided him either. i don't really care, but it bothers me to think that there may be some shy members of the ward that desperately need to talk to him, but out of his apathy have not had that opporunity. i've been an executive secretay for two bishops. he's not doing his job.

  17. 1) There are no specific blessings that come from holding the priesthood that are not available to women also.

    2) Say what you mean the first time and I wouldn't have to disagree with you. I've been noticing a pattern of "well, when I say this, I mean that." I'm not psychic.

    3) You obviously will never be convinced otherwise. Where do you come up with this stuff anyways?

  18. Dear Loyd,
    Are you trying to make the bishop's job harder? If there are shy people in the ward that need a social connection well then that's your job. If there are shy people in the ward that need the bishops help/counsel then its his job to meet with them. He has been set apart for the calling and thus has the ability to recieve guidance in his calling that you may not see. Maybe he just has a feeling that you don't need/want to meet with him. Ever thought he was reacting to what your attitude is? Again I have to say, don't be so judgemental!

  19. s.o., (m),

    1. leaders of the church have often said that using the priesthood to bless others, holding the priesthood, and having certain priesthood callings, are blessings in themselves. those blessings are all withheld from women. also, sis. beck's talk did not limit equality to mere blessings. she claimed that men and women make the same covenants in the temple. men and women do not make the same covenants in the temple. women covenant to be submissive to their husbands, not vice-versa.

    2. i don't expect you to be pyschic, just literate. i (and others) have discussed this here and on provopulse several times.

    3. "where do i come up with this?" great arguement mephi. from reading the scriptures.

  20. dear maggie,
    if expecting the bishop to do his calling is trying to make his job harder, yes. i know i'm not the only one who has lived here for a long time without ever having met the bishop. many of those i am pretty sure could use him. he's not doing his calling. am i being judgmental, yes, but being judgmental is only wrong when we are not willing to be judged by the same standards.

  21. The Silent Observer4/09/2006 1:03 AM

    1. Women do not covenent to be submissive to their husbands in the temple. To say so is deliberately deceptive. Also, I guess what the leaders of the church say only carries any weight with you when it works for the sake of argument.

    2. Or you could just say what you mean in the first place and save me the trouble of scouring the archives of this blog or ProvoPulse.

    3. Funny, I read the same scriptures and arrive at something different. I guess that's what we have prophets and apostles for... oh wait...

  22. s.o.,

    1. go to the temple. women covenant to be submissive to their husband. not vice-versa.

    2. this is what i originally said: god does not look upon them equally. god has said plenty of great things about the poor. the rich do not fair so well in god's eyes. they're pretty much condemned every time.

    i'm talking about the rich as opposed to the poor. you then set up and tried to attack some strawman about poverty and wealth. my original claim holds. i was pretty clear originally. it is you who couldn't read and had to attack something different.

    3. there are plenty of scriptures that we take wrongly from a first-hand and shallow reading. our culture or zeitgeist (as elder so-and-so put it) can greatly influence how we read the scriptures. it affects prophetts and apostles as well. i'm sure you're willing to accept that many apostles and prophets have interpreted the scriptures wrongly.

  23. The Silent Observer4/09/2006 1:27 PM

    1. You first. The only way you'd come out of the temple thinking that women covenent to be submissive to their husbands is if you plugged your ears in the middle of the temple-narrator's sentence.

    2. Your original claim does not hold. In order for it to be true you had to qualify it with additional information. To say that God condemns the rich is false. To say that God condemns the rich who withhold their substance while other people remain poor is true. There is nothing inherently wrong about "the" rich, being rich, having wealth, or wealth, however much you would love to split hairs over words.

    3. And what makes you so immune from the culture or zeitgeist?

  24. s.o.,

    1. i really don't see why you are disagreeing with me. it's right there in the endowment. adam submits to god. eve submits to adam. their the paradigm humans portraying the paradigm marriage.

    2. jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. d&c says that as long as one has more than another, the world is lying in sin. if there exists rich and poor, then the rich are sinning. it's pretty clear throughout the scriptures.

    3. you can't be immune from culture. however, it's better to at least realize what cultures there are that might be affecting the ways we see things.

  25. The Silent Observer4/10/2006 10:16 AM

    1. Eve's "submission" comes with a caveat that makes her "submit" to God only.

    2. It is clear throughout the scriptures. But without the qualifying information you have added, your original statement is false.

    3. Well, if you're not immune from these influences, why have the audacity to call Elder Packer's statement false? Why such strong language if you believe at the end of the day that you're just guessing as to the meaning as well as he is?

  26. s.o.,

    1-Eve's "submission" comes with a caveat that makes her "submit" to God only.

    Through her husband, a distinction that is not made for the husband through the wife. Hence unequal.

    2-here is my original post. god does not look upon them equally. god has said plenty of great things about the poor. the rich do not fair so well in god's eyes. they're pretty much condemned every time. what is false?

    3-the same reason why he'd have the audacity to call my interpretation false. however, i believe that i have more textual evidence to back up my claim.

  27. I was just browsing for something on the internet and came across this blog. I wish I had more time to address this issue with you, but here are my thoughts.

    Women and Healing (Spiritual Gifts)

    It is important to remember that everybody has different spiritual gifts and can therefore come to the place of charity in different ways. The gentile church is run on an administrative sense rather than a “discover peoples gifts and allow us to learn from each other organization”. There is a distinction between spiritual gifts, between gifts of the spirit, and priesthood gifts. Many priesthood gifts are general gifts: gifts of healing – women can use them, tongues – women can use them.

    What we do is use these gifts in the priesthood channel and then they become known and priesthood gifts and then we mistakenly say that only the priesthood can use them.

    Note let’s look at how the prophet address this issue: Pg 224 TPJS he said the reason for these remarks is that some foolish things were being said about sisters who were laying hands on the sick. Now, imagine if this was done today, it would be attributed to hersay. The prophet gave them this right to do it and they anointed each other. In one meeting for example, one of the sisters got up after being anointed by the relief society president and said that she had been healed and said that she felt better during the administering of the healing from the sister then she did from the men. Well, that went over big, but then a lot of talk came out about it, and the prophet, who was in the process of organizing the holy order said “if the people had common sympathy they would rejoice that the sick could be healed, not worrying about who is doing it or whether they had the right or not, but the time had not come yet that these things could be in their proper order. Basically the church is not in that place and could not be until the temple was completed as a place to provide administration and organization of the gospel.

    He then goes on to talk about sisters being made queens and priestesses and getting priesthood rights. In that context some of the sisters had been given the right to bless and administer to the sick. They did not do it in the authority of the priesthood, but they did it in the exercise of the gifts of the spirit.

    In Mark 16:17 it says “and these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall cast out devils they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”

    Prophet’s comments – “no matter who believes these signs, no matter male or female, will have the gifts of the spirit – sisters can have the gifts of the spirit.

    He asked the relief society if they could not see by this sweeping promise that wherein they are ordained, it is a privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority which is confirmed upon them and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick let all hold their tongues and let everything roll on.

    Women and the Priesthood

    Women can exercise the gifts of the spirit and lay hands on the sick and heal them. They don’t do it in the authority of the priesthood. Now if they’d been to the temple with their spouses, that’s a different story. But even short of that, a women should be able to anoint with oil, lay hands upon the sick and in the prayer of faith, exercise the gifts of the spirit, including the gift of healing.

    In the holy order women do have the right to exercise the priesthood, the women in the temple do exercise the initiatory ordinances. As you go through the live session, when the ordinances are administered they are given by the man or Adam to Eve and then she gives them to the women. In the film that is deleted but in the live one Adam gives them to her and she gives them to the women. The women is administering the sacred ordinances and of the temple, the washing and the anointing, etc. There is not really anything that’s administered by a man, its all done by women, until you get up to the second anointing or the fullness of the priesthood, then its given to them jointly and then she’s a queen and a priestess in connection with her husband. As a queen and a priestess she has priesthood rights and powers. And when the holy order is organized in place of the ecclesiastical order and this is the celestial order, the woman has priesthood rights and authority.


Please provide a name or consistent pseudonym with your comments and avoid insults or personal attacks against anyone or any group. All anonymous comments will be immediately deleted. Other comments are subject to deletion at my discretion.