Oh...how the media is hyping over the founder of the Ordain Women movement and a podcaster from Logan, UT being put through church discipline councils...
All I can say, in the words of one of my favorite SNL characters: SIMMER DOWN NOW!....
For starters- we ABSOLUTELY can question church leaders. The point in this situation is that the founder of Ordain Women and this particular podcaster were answered REPEATEDLY through statements and even General Conference addresses about their questions. Instead of taking those answers, praying about where they stood with those answers, and moving on, they persisted to continue to badger and question in very public ways not just church leaders, but fundamental doctrine... In essence, they weren't questioning church leaders, they were and are questioning God...
They claimed to be in good standing with the church and to believe the fundamental doctrine...they just wanted changes to the doctrine...seems like in wanting to change the fundamental doctrine you don't believe in it as much as you think you do.
In response to the podcaster... He (the podcaster) openly supported Ordain Women and also made moves for change so that "openly gay" people could be active members of the church. I will address his questions on openly gay members as I plan on addressing Ordain Women in a moment...
The church responded. Gay members are MORE than welcome to worship with us, hold callings, even attend the temple as long as they are willing to live the standards of the church. There is no sin in admitting same sex attraction, the sin comes from acting upon that urge- just as acting upon heterosexual urges outside the bonds of marriage is a sin. What he was calling for is really a non change... in other words- As long as you're willing to submit yourself to the same rules as other members, if you TRULY believe all church doctrine and follow it, you can admit your same sex attraction and still be fit for service and church membership... Just as any person that sins, you lose privileges and must repent if you act upon urges that are contradictory to church doctrine.
So what changes are you calling for? If that isn't good enough, then what you SHOULD be saying is that you want God to change his mind about the first commandment he ever gave- the first commandment of marriage- TO MULTIPLY.
I will openly admit. God never says "And this is the definition of marriage." in the bible... What He does do is make some commandments about marriage when he gives Eve to Adam.
He tells them to cleave to one another, to go forth and be fruitful, he tells them to replenish the earth and work together to be good stewards over it...but first and foremost- the VERY first commandment he gave was to go forth and multiply.
Can a gay couple cleave to one another and help each other through life- YES, Can they raise children? ABSOLUTELY. In short, a gay couple sadly falls short on the first commandment- to MULTIPLY. A man and a man and a woman and a woman cannot combine their genetic material to create life- ergo- their union is not a true marriage in the eyes of God.
Hold on- don't get upset. I believe in civil rights! I have plenty of gay friends that I love dearly and I definitely think that if you're going to choose to spend 40, 50, 60 years of your life with someone you should have the right to make medical decisions for them, receive tax breaks, etc. The state can define marriage however the heck they want as long as they maintain the separation of church and state and don't try to require churches to change their doctrine. There are plenty of other churches out there that will happily perform gay marriage because they don't see the bible the way my church does and that is totally okay.
And before you tell me that if I believe that the power to have children makes a marriage and that means that infertile couples don't have a real marriage I need to remind you that, in my belief system, the power to create life extends into the next life and that the married men and women who are following the commandments of God will be blessed to create life in the next life. We will all be in perfected bodies when we resurrect and the things barring them from creating life when biologically they should be able to will be gone.
If my humble opinion of the gay marriage topic should really be known its this: the state has NO BUSINESS defining marriage. Give it back to the people. Back in the day, the church would perform their marriages and report to the state (hence having to look through church bibles for marriage records before a certain point). Let the churches perform whatever marriages they want. IF the state wants to give tax breaks, the churches can report the marriages they have performed and the state accepts them. The only law should be "no marriages between men and animals or inanimate objects, and no marrying someone under the age of 18" yada yada... and there you go.
A big belief that we hold as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that all men have agency. We all have the right to choose how we will live their lives and by what moral compass we will walk the paths we travel. Do I believe that there is more to this life and its imperative that we make sure our choices reflect an eternal perspective as opposed to being happy in the moment? Absolutely I do,but some people can't comprehend the idea of living for an afterlife...and that is okay. I believe that even people who "sin" can be good people. I view homosexuality the same way I view drinking or smoking. You make a choice to act on an impulse and choose to continue to make that choice. Does that make you a bad person? NO. The friends that I have that do live a homosexual lifestyle are some of the kindest, sweetest people I know. They still can exhibit Christlike love and be charitable and kind. We all innately are good because our spirits are innately good. They just made a choice to act on an impulse and live continually acting upon it. Ultimately, where they end up on the eternal end of things is up to them and God. The bible says to judge not lest ye be judged, so I won't judge.
By my moral compass- Yes, homosexuality is a sin. I can say that and not feel uncomfortable. I can also say that I can love people regardless of their sins because we were told by Christ that the manner of men we ought to be are even as He is. Christ didn't rebuke or condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery. He healed all without paying heed to whether or not they were Jews or Gentiles. He taught everyone equally and in the same way. I can be like Christ and love people in spite of them breaking what I believe to be the laws of God without making them feel like crap for it.
To be tolerant doesn't mean I have to believe their life is right, it just means I accept it, kindly agree to disagree and move on.
If you truly believed the foundational doctrines of the LDS church. If you were worthy of holding a temple recommend as this gentleman said he was, then he wouldn't have continued to question God and what has been laid out plainly for him through His word.
Now, onto Ordain Women.
This sister, while well meaning, at the last statistic I heard, only represents about 1%o of the women of the church...1%.... Nowhere NEAR a majority.
To be honest, I find their overall aim very sad and far from liberating.
They are allowing themselves to believe the biggest lie that Satan has told in the last 40 years or so in his attempt to degrade families and attack us...
the lie that if you don't have what someone else does it makes you less...
If I lived my WHOLE LIFE keeping score of what other people had that I didn't, it would be a very sad life indeed.
Living this life causes people to stop looking inward. They stop looking for their own talents and what makes them special. They become preoccupied with the idea that if they just had what X had, they could truly be happy instead of forging happiness for themselves.
Society tells us that in order to be equal we all need the same privileges... By that logic, using the aim of Ordain Women, we should be giving the priesthood to infants the minute they are born...
The Webster's definition of liberation is "fighting against societal norms"...
Well, then I REJECT the societal norm and by that definition, the aim of Ordain Women is hardly liberation at all. I am, in fact OFFENDED at the thought that I am less because I don't have a priesthood ordination. I don't need to hold the priesthood to be useful or to be equal to anyone.
I celebrate what makes me different from a man.I am a woman. I have some remarkable blessings because I have two X chromosomes that no man could ever possess.
Studies have shown that women have the ability to multitask better than men because of how our brains formed differently, we are more patient, loving, emotional... I EMBRACE those qualities in myself. Following your heart can be more effective than being logical in many cases. I don't need to prove I can be logical...I can be. I have a brain, just as men can be emotional....
What if...and stay with me here...What if we were made differently because we need one another. Because we are supposed to be partners and work together?
What if, by insisting that everyone is the same we are helping Satan to drive us further apart because, by that insistence, we are rejecting our differences and are making it impossible to work together.
I am my husband's equal in every sense of the word, but I am his equal because I am different. Where I am weak he is strong and visa versa. If I spent my days constantly trying to prove myself to make a point, our relationship would never work. He loves me and accepts my faults and weaknesses and I do the same for him. We work together to achieve goals and to make up the difference when one of us is weak and struggling.
The Priesthood is one difference that blesses us.
Let's be honest, if you sit down and think about it, priesthood holders in the church have to work harder than we do as women. They can't enter the temple without the highest order of the priesthood. As sisters, we have the right to approach our bishop when we feel ready to make temple covenants and start the process to enter without having the priesthood.
In some ways, its God's biggest complement that we don't have the priesthood. Its God's way of saying that he trusts our intuition enough, that he believes we don't need it to strengthen our faith or draw closer to him...lest we forget that if Eve hadn't been smart enough to eat the forbidden fruit, men would still be stuck in limbo waiting for further light and knowledge... she didn't need the priesthood to see that she couldn't complete God's first commandments given in the garden without partaking of the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil...if you REALLY ponder what that means, it means we were given knowledge BEFORE men because of the actions of an intuitive and emotional woman...how lucky are we?
So why can't we allow there to be differences? The priesthood draws men closer to the spirit by giving them the heavy task to act in the name of God- sometimes at the cost of leaving the comfort of their beds at 2 or 3 in the morning to administer to the sick and afflicted- to leave their poor wives to sit with little children alone through sacrament as they act as bishopric members- through the priesthood their faithfulness is tested...As women, we don't need that test. Inherently, we are closer to the spirit and Eve proved that when she took the fruit. It has been proven countless times since in the stories of pioneer women who WITHOUT the priesthood were able to use their faith to heal their children and livestock when their husbands were deceased or out with the Mormon Battalion... Our faith can move mountains if we let it, if we truly believe. If you think you need the priesthood to bless the lives of others you are sadly and sorely mistaken.
I will say it again- How sad is it that people are going through this life believing that because they are different, they are less?
My husband may hold the priesthood, but I utilize his priesthood on a regular basis. I am the one who asks him to bless our children because, let's face it, men get so caught up in the big picture as logical thinkers, that they fail to see the little things sometimes. Sometimes they just don't think about it...but by asking him to use his priesthood power, I am helping him to grow closer to the spirit. I am reminding him to watch for the little things, I am reminding him that in the hustle and bustle of every day life he needs to take time out and think of others- to see beyond the tip of his nose.
If I held the priesthood and could just do it myself, I would be denying him that blessing and that lesson. I would be denying him the opportunity to grow closer to the spirit and I would be denying myself the opportunity to be humble enough to admit that I CAN'T do everything all on my own (because, let's face it, as women, we have a tendency to try to do everything ourselves.) In the act of asking, I am forced to remember that its okay to ask for help. Its okay that I can't do everything. Its okay that sometimes I fall short... we are our own worst critics as women from weight, hair styles, appearance, and more importantly in life- we judge ourselves harshly and forget that asking for help is vital to our existence, otherwise we will burn out.
Lest we forget that in order to enter the celestial kingdom, the highest degree of glory, a man and a woman have to have one another. A man cannot make it without his wife just because he had the priesthood and not having the priesthood doesn't exclude faithful women from entry. In fact, faithful members of the church that do not marry in this life are promised that blessing in the next regardless of whether they are a man or a woman. God loves us equally and wants us ALL to return to him and receive celestial glory if we have fought to be worthy of it in this life. The priesthood is only a qualifier for celestial glory for MEN. Another complement from God for us "lowly" women. God has basically told us that as long as we are willing to live righteously, follow the commandments, we will be given what we need to make it and achieve glory in the next life....think of it as God saying "Because you're just THAT awesome."
I can testify of times when my husband was out of town and I wanted desperately to call upon his priesthood power for help with a sick or ailing child or I was sick and ailing...it was in these times I had to rely on my own faith. I prayed and, you know what, God saw my needs. He answered my prayers. I did that- with MY faith. God did that because he saw that I had faith he would make things better. Sometimes my answers came through the kindness of others, sometimes my answers came through deeply personal spiritual experiences that I don't feel I need to expound upon, but the answers to my prayers came. My children received the help the needed, I was given respite in times of illness and affliction.
With or without the priesthood, God will answer my prayers. The priesthood works according to faith. It is the power to act in the name of God- its not the power to BE God on earth- If I believe I need the priesthood to perform miracles, then I don't have enough faith in my faith.
The men that hold the priesthood will be constrained from acting if it isn't in the will of God. I think of a scene from one of my favorite books Charly by Jack Weyland. Its based on actual events. At one point, Charly has been diagnosed with cancer. It spreads and gets worse. She asks for a priesthood blessing from her husband Sam. He struggles. He wants to bless her to be healed, but is tongue tied. Eventually, he forces his will and pronounces the blessing of healing...but Charly, in her closeness with the spirit at the time, is all too aware that Sam was not acting in the spirit. She calls him out on it and asks for the blessing she should have received. She received the comfort she sought, and Sam learned a lesson about drawing closer to the spirit and not forcing his will.
It may be the power of God, but it doesn't give men the power to change God's will.
We need to be different. As the above story demonstrates, we need our differences to strengthen one another. In embracing those differences, we WILL defeat Satan, we will allow our faith and testimonies to grow...in fighting to make everyone the same, we allow ourselves to become of the world... we accept the lies society tells us and we fail to embrace the truths that God has placed right in front of us...we begin to deny His will and try to invoke our own as we focus too much on what we don't have. We forget to count our blessings, we become unhappy, and then we end up allowing Satan to bind us in the shackles of sin and vice because we start to wonder if what the world says will make us happy is really the answer. We fail to see our own divinity. We fail to trust that God's will is better than our own. We fail to see that he sees eternity as a whole and we only see slices at a time. We fail to let our faith grow.
In the end, these disciplinary councils are about just that. Two people, working with a small number followers, to try to change the will of God. Two people who fail to see their own divinity. Two people struggling with living in the world and not of it.
They were answered. Church leaders, male and female alike, attempted on numerous occasions to give them comfort and counsel, and they chose not to listen. They chose to continue to insight conflict. They chose to continue to try to impose their own will and act as if they were speaking for the church as a whole. They were deflecting their struggles on each of us in an attempt to try to bring the will of the world and the will of God together.
Sadly, the will of the world is NOT the will of God. I think the state of the world right now can testify of that.
In conclusion, we, as church members, as we question doctrine, ourselves, and church leaders need to remember the cautionary tale of Martin Harris and his desire to show the pages they had completed of the Book of Mormon to his wife.
Martin pressed. Joseph continued to pray and question God's will...Finally, God said, do what you want, but you will deal with the consequences...
In the end, the first 118 pages of the Book of Mormon disappeared. Poor Martin dealt with the guilt and spent years unable to trust his wife, Joseph lost his ability to translate for a time, and the church as a whole lost the ENTIRE book of Lehi...
My husband and I were studying 1 Nephi the other night and he posed the question: I wonder what Lehi saw in his vision...Nephi did a brief synopsis, he doesn't tell us what the great and marvelous things his father saw were... We are missing a HUGE chunk of awesomeness because of a time that men failed and imposed their own will.
In short, any time you try to impose your will over God's it won't end well.
He WILL drag you kicking and screaming from one blessing to the next if he has to...because, God never ceases to bless His children...but will you see the blessings as you kick and scream along the way? Probably not.
It is my humble prayer that this sister and brother are able to see the blessings in their lives. That this time of discipline will help them to gain insight and the humility they need to truly hear the voice of the Lord and receive the personal revelation they need to come to terms with God's will.
It is my prayer that they find their way back and, moreover, can see the divinity in our differences as opposed to focusing on what they don't have. It is my prayer that they will come back with greater understanding of the gospel and WHY God does not change.
I know God loves us. I know he made us different with good reason. I know that I am divine in purpose and have endless worth. I know that I am an equal to every other person on this earth and that I can assert that equality through developing my talents and using them to serve God by serving others. We are ALL special. We are ALL equals in his eyes. It is our differences that make us equal. We all have the same chances for redemption, we all have the same chances to exercise our agency, and we will all be judged equally by our works and our faith.
In conclusion, I will say this about the situation this brother and sister find themselves in: Because we are all equals, there are church disciplinary councils EVERY WEEK in some stake, in some city, in some country. These two individuals are NO DIFFERENT than the other brothers and sisters that have been subject to disciplinary council...the only thing that separates them is they chose to make it public and put "bees in the bonnet" in hopes of swaying more people to support their cause. They will be treated the same as every other person that has faced discipline, they have the same opportunity to speak up and share their side of the story. God is no respecter of persons. He loves us and we are chastised in hopes that we will be able to come to some resolution, be humbled and return as the prodigal son, ready to receive whatever blessings he deems fit for us.
Some blessings come soon, some blessings come late, but they ALWAYS come to those who are faithful and wait patiently for them...even those that have gone astray.