Will Ordain Women have an impact with most Mormon women?

LDS General Conference starts this weekend and the one question is whether Ordain Women will engage in social activism and gather to request admittance into the church’s all-male priesthood conference session. The answer to that is yes.

The second question is, will there be an effort to stop the activism? The answer is no. Can one imagine the media coverage of white males in the LDS Church leadership having women who want to attend an all-male session to worship dragged away?

So, there will be a repeat of the October activism, although this time smart phones will cover the event instead of media cameras.

March was a month in which hostility toward Ordain Women was subtly released by LDS leadership, via a letter in which it was requested that the Ordain Women movement “demonstrate” in “free-speech zones adjacent to Temple Square, which have long been established for those wishing to voice differing viewpoints.” That was a deliberate slap in the face to OW, with its direct comparison of the organization to anti-Mormon groups who congregate in the “free speech zones.”

I have read opinions — in more than one article — that the LDS Church committed a public relations fiasco by issuing the letter. One idea promulgated is that the letter unwittingly spurred more social activism and will prompt more activists to request admission to the priesthood session. I believe church leaders understood perfectly the consequences of the letter’s publication. They understand that active Mormons will see Saturday’s demonstration and realize that OW defied a request from the church’s leadership. That will further marginalize the group, which despite positive media coverage, has abysmal support among active Mormon women.

There’s nothing wrong with a group of Mormon women asking the church hierarchy to pray about women receiving the priesthood, or demonstrate outside all-male priesthood meetings. It’s wrong for the church to ban media cameras this weekend. LDS General Conference is a news event. A demonstration — outside the meeting — by active Mormon women who say they are ready to receive the priesthood is a news event. Cameras should be allowed.

But I understand why there is antagonism toward OW by most active Mormon women, as well as the church hierarchy. From conversations with some active Mormon women, I most often hear that OW’s citing of the failure to ordain women to the priesthood as an example of current gender inequality within the church is wrong. Ordain Women maintains that gender inequality in the LDS Church exists. Most active Mormons, regardless of sex, agree with that, but not on the priesthood exclusion. Some take offense at the implication they enable gender inequality by supporting an all-male priesthood.

To active, faithful Mormons, the priesthood is regarded as the authority to act in God’s name. LDS theology teaches that it was restored as follows: “The priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith by the laying on of hands by those who held it anciently. In May 1829, John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood, and shortly thereafter, Peter, James, and John, three of the Savior’s original Apostles, restored the Melchizedek Priesthood. On April 3, 1836, Moses, Elijah, and Elias restored additional priesthood keys.”

Most active Mormon women I know don’t consider themselves as possessing a lesser status than men because they don’t have the priesthood. They think of the priesthood as a gift from God, and having a priesthood holder in the house as an additional blessing from God. Most active Mormons correctly believe God regards men and women as equals.

How does one tell LDS women that the current priesthood structure makes them lesser church members? A challenge for OW is to convince these sisters that they have their best interests at heart when they demonstrate in favor of changing the priesthood structure. I’m not sure they can.

There are gender issues that need to be addressed, and improved, within the church. One is having women auxiliary leaders be involved in church disciplinary proceedings, so that the wisdom of both sexes can contribute to grave, life-impacting decisions. If OW maintains its stated respect for church leadership and support of faithful church activity it can likely help effect announcements that dictate these type of changes. That may be its positive impact to the LDS Church.

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31 Responses to Will Ordain Women have an impact with most Mormon women?

  1. FLO says:

    [Father Knows Best] ™ viacom
    Starred Robert [Young], and not [Sonya Johnson].

    The [Priesthood of my Father's] kept organization and stability in the
    household. Woman’s suffrage will only be “placed on the back
    burner”, when we are joined “hand in hand” by the [Apostle Paul's]
    admonition on when to speak, and when to “keep our mouth’s
    shut” at Church gatherings.

    MALE-CHEZ-E-DECK. {i.e. Melchezedec}
    Work’s for me. Every other issue is an “Estrogen Thing”.

  2. rls says:

    – as a priesthood holder, i have certain well-defined responsibilities which i am expected to live up to –

    — if my wife were to also have the priesthood, and those responsibilities, how much easier it would be for me to shirk those responsibilities, simply leaving them for my wife to tend to while i watched the ballgame –

    — the priesthood, in my estimation, is Heavenly Father’s way of helping us men get up off our butts and be productive — why would women want to take away that motivation from us — i’m lazy enough already –

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      Ahh, the bashing men approach. How disgusting!

      Kindly don’t assume that just because you’re a lazy ass, that all us men are.

  3. Dolores says:

    The Church could mitigate the situation by restoring the independence and powers of the auxiliary organizations that was drained away by Correlation. Then the Church experience for women and youth would be much more substantive and respectful.

  4. “The priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith by the laying on of hands by those who held it anciently. In May 1829, John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood, and shortly thereafter, Peter, James, and John, three of the Savior’s original Apostles, restored the Melchizedek Priesthood. On April 3, 1836, Moses, Elijah, and Elias restored additional priesthood keys.”

    There was no restored priesthood or priesthood keys. The Gospel that was presented by the apostles is the true and full Gospel. Some want to say that it was the gospel of Paul that was preached, but in Romans chapters 15 and 16 Paul says his Gospel, the Gospel of Christ, and the Gospel of God. The Gospel that Paul preached is the Gospel of Christ. And it is complete.


  5. Sasha says:

    “Ordain Women” isn’t a very respectable organization, from the inflammatory name to the claimed faithfulness or devoutness of its leaders. In an age without social media it wouldn’t even exist because it wouldn’t have the bully pulpit. I recognize that some people regard such an attitude about Ordain Women as unhelpful,disrespectful, or throwing fuel on the fire, but you have to call bs when you see it.

    Basically, if you believe LDS apostles are God’s authorized servants to lead the Church, you can’t claim that you know what God wants for the church better than they do. And if you don’t believe they are God’s authorized servants to lead the church, the priesthood means nothing anyway. If the activists are just looking for a social group where they can wear bishop robes and talk about Jesus and being nice and loving people, there are plenty of existing churches for that (or they are welcome to start another). If they want the Church of Jesus Christ, the one restored by Joseph Smith and solidified by Brigham Young and co., they should accept its revealed doctrine as well as its leadership.

    Like the letter from LDS PR said, staging dramatic instagram-worthy protests outside conference does little to help their stated goal, or the LDS Church they claim to love. All it does is make their own organization’s name more widely known and get them a few more interviews. What do they do the other 363 days of the year, when they can’t stage protests at general conference?

    I’ve read a few articles and blogs saying that viewpoints like mine that basically say “get with the program or find a new one” are too harsh, but Ordain Women has been around a while now and they don’t seem to be getting the message. Bad PR or not, they are headed down the road for excommunication- they are practically begging for it like an internet troll (Imagine how syndicated that headline would be-yay!). If you believe in the Church and the priesthood you don’t protest God’s apostles, and if you don’t believe it then the priesthood doesn’t mean anything to you and you should respect the people to whom it means alot. You can’t claim to be devout and simultaneously deny your faith.

    The shenanigans will continue until you and I stop clicking on the headlines; hopefully in another 4 or 5 conferences the novelty will wear off as it has for the dozens of other protest groups outside general conferences. We don’t see headlines like “Estranged ex-Baptist tells Mormons their Jesus isn’t the real one and they are going to Hell”, even though there are signs like that on the street every year; give it a while and the headlines will say “Ordain Women continues 45th semiannual protest outside 228th LDS Conference” etc etc until it dies down to non-newsworthy status.

    That’s the end of my overlong internet monologue/rant; Ordain Women is just annoying because it sidelines the great many awesome LDS women who faithfully keep the Church running and lift others up (without clamoring for attention or trying to leverage a church event for their own gain). A recent Pew Research survey found that LDS women are even more supportive of God’s male-priesthood model than LDS men are. Ordain Women can’t claim to represent LDS women, and LDS women don’t deserve the muck that protestors try to stir up.

    • Marni says:


      If your view is so accurate, explain to me why faithful African-American members of the Church were told for decades by many high up LDS Church leaders that they were “cursed”? The leadership of the LDS Church should be respected, they sacrifice a lot. However they are not perfect, and there is nothing wrong with asking the Church to consider change. Just because you personally do not like something, does not mean other people are wrong.

      • Brian says:

        Sure, there’s nothing wrong with “asking the Church to consider change,” but that has nothing to do with why the OW group receives its criticism. It has everything to do with protesting at temple square and deceitful attention-grabbing tactics. It’s well past time that we stop pretending that this group is simply “asking questions,” as that ship sailed long ago.

        • Marni says:

          I see nothing deceitful about OW, they have been open about everything they do. “Attention grabbing tactics” is what lead to the reversal of the doctrine regarding black and the priesthood. Public pressure is what lead to the abolition of polygamy. The hostile response with which many have received OW has lead me to believe that attention gathering tactics must be used. In almost any social circumstance when women ask for change, they are almost always met with hostility. However, in the long run, change almost always happens.

        • D. Michael Martindale says:

          What deceitful tactics are those? Everybody knows what their tactics are for the simple reason they’ve been forthcoming about them.

          You may disagree with them, but you’re just shooting yourself in the foot when you malign them with lies.

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      And I have to call smearing people because you disagree with them when I see it. I suppose you think you’re defending your religion, but you’re not. You’re putting it in a bad light when as a representative of it you make such smear attacks.

  6. laverl09 says:

    The priesthood is not only the authority to ACT in the name of God, it is also the power to BECOME like God.
    Until we see this higher purpose, male and female will never be together as ONE in this endeavor.

  7. Plain as day says:

    At: downtown dave: It’s important to note in the New Testament when Paul is speaking to the world and when he is speaking to already baptized members of the primitive Church. Most of the time, he is speaking to already baptized members of the Church, and that changes the whole meaning in regard to everyone else.

    Regarding OW: If the LDS Church was a man-made church, I would say go ahead and give OW what they want. But it is not a man-made church. OW should take their issue higher up, if they’re sincere, and appeal to God, who is really in charge. They don’t need to make a big public scene to get attention.

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      Yes, they do, because nothing else works. Whether the church is man-made or not, changes are not made until the GAs are persuaded. Almost never does God tap the prophet on the shoulder and say, “Ahem, I want this change.” They pretty much all come about after the GAs have pondered it and asked.

      • Ephriam says:

        Right Mr Martindale, and accordingly [Affirmation],
        {Gay and Lesbian Mormons} will most likely assert that the Quorum has “a chip on both shoulders”.
        “Onward Christian Soldiers!!!”

  8. Wayne says:

    Temple Recommend Question for OW

    Apparently everything about the church is on the net so here is my comment. How many of these OW protesters have a Temple Recommend? If they do have one now they should never have another one. Why?

    Temple Recommend Question for OW.
    Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

    The answer is: Yes.

    End of argument…you’re outta here!!!

    • Marni says:


      Here is my question for you. The level of hostility I see directed towards OW is really out of proportion with what they are doing. I have to wonder, how much of your anger has to do with wanting to defend a religion. Or how has to do with defending the status quo because in reality there is a contingency in the LDS Church that could not stomach, under any circumstances, receiving religious leadership from a woman? And because of this do not want the questions posed by OW asked?

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      Such a Christian attitude, Wayne. But that’s just par for the course to attack, isn’t it, when staunch Mormons are disturbed by people who have different ideas from you.

  9. Wayne says:

    This kind of thing reminds me of the ‘burning of the American flag’ argument.

    People say that burning the flag is their right to free speech. Maybe so, but think about the fact that by burning the flag you are destroying a representation of the very thing that gives you that right. Once that representation is gone maybe the disappearance of the right itself will soon follow.

    Be careful what you ask for…you might get it.

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      That was just dumb–both about asking for the priesthood and about the flag.

      I’m pretty confident OW will be quite happy if they receive what they ask for,

  10. joe says:

    Neither Mormons nor non-Mormons understand Mormon theology. If they did, this discussion would be moot. In Mormon temple worship, women make the same priesthood covenants as ordained men do. Women even administer priesthood ordinances in Mormon temples, despite the fact they are unordained. Women can enter Mormon temples without being ordained. Mormon men cannot.
    On a related note, according to President David O. McKay he repeatedly prayed that all worthy males might be eligible to receive the priesthood. He felt strongly that the answer he heard was that the time was not right and that was frustrating for him. A little over a decade later President Spencer W. Kimball felt strongly that the answer to the same prayer was that the time had come. That was a time of great happiness and relief for all members of the Mormon church. Three observations from these circumstances: 1) Leaders of the Mormon church have prayed for direction and believed that The Lord would answer in His way and time. I would be greatly surprised if current church leaders were not praying in a similar way for answers to this question; 2) For those individuals that believe that The Lord hears and answers prayers on these matters, they also will continue praying and patiently waiting; 3) For those individuals that believe that The Lord would never direct Mormon leaders, no matter how earnestly they sought His direction, there will never be a satisfactory answer. And, for those individuals it really should not matter whether anyone claims to hold any priesthood in the Mormon church.

  11. Brian says:

    The author talks about how the LDS church letter was a “deliberate slap in the face” to the OW group, and while I’m unaware of all the reasons, allow me to suggest one that is currently being overlooked.

    The anti-mormon protesters that gather biannually would prefer to demonstrate in a more prominent locations than just the “free speech zones.” I have no doubt that some would protest inside the conference center if permitted. For these reasons, the church has its policy of no demonstrations on most of the property, and this isn’t just confined to anti-mormon protestors. A few years back I volunteered as an usher for general conference, and as I was stationed outdoors, one of my responsibilities was to ensure no one was breaking the policy, even to the point of not allowing people holding signs asking for tickets (outside of the designated zones). The idea was that if some were allowed to demonstrate, even in a very minor form, it would be much more difficult to prevent the anti-mormon protesters from coming onto the property as well.

  12. Good Reason says:

    The Church appears to be moving in a direction that will reconcile the doctrinal issues. In her latest book, Sheri Dew, CEO of Deseret Book, asserts that there is Priesthood and there is priesthood. Priesthood, or the power of God, is held by men and women alike. The other priesthood, with a small “p” is the power of Heavenly Father, and is held by God’s sons. That means there is yet another “hood” which is the power of Heavenly Mother, which is held by God’s daughters. If women already hold the Priesthood and have a female-specific “hood,” holding the priesthood with a small “p” seems superfluous.

  13. BWB says:

    Doug Gibson, the author of this opinion piece, shows that we have a long way to go improving the general understanding of our religion. He doesn’t get it. But if I wasn’t one of the LDS, I probably wouldn’t get it either.

  14. BWB says:

    Whether or not the Church’s response was a “slap in the face” is a matter of perception. To those of who disagree with OW, it was a very kind, patient, and necessarily firm answer to a group who are openly defiant. To the supporters of OW, they see it as that slap, because they perceive themselves as martyrs and victims.

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      Then those who disagree with OW are in the wrong because their presupposition about OW is wrong. They are not “openly defiant.” They are doing nothing that violates the gospel or doctrines of the church.

      They are, however, showing courage by not stepping back from what they believe and feel they need to do to make peopel aware of their cause. But that doesn’t violate anything. That’s called character.

  15. Linda says:

    I agree with Sasha and Wayne and parts of Brian’s comments. In talking with whole groups of LDS women since this has been in the news, there has not been one that agrees with OW or is willing to admit it. I have not brought the subject up in conversations, but plenty of others have. Personally, I think it is an embarrassment and a black eye for us. This seem to be how most of us feel. The church’s reply was right on the mark. It is a small minority. If they are “faithful”, “active” members they wouldn’t be acting in this way. They need to question where this spirit of contention is coming from. When I saw the support from some husbands with them and a few children it confirmed to me who “wears the pants” in their family. While I hate to see anyone jeopardize their salvation, this is exactly what they are doing. I feel the same way about those that support the Gay Community. Many support them simply because they have a family member or friend and they are trying to show support because of their love for them. While we love them (and we do have a gay family member) I can not condone or support unrighteousness. Love I can do! Women naturally nuture and administer to others and have that oneness with our Heavenly Father. The administering of the Priesthood is the way the males nurture and administer to others. Both parts make a whole. There are many religions today that have female pastors, obviously this church is not meeting their desires (power grab?). Go for it, but leave the rest of us to worship in peace. Some new issue arises every few years and it is usually women (remember Equal Rights Amendment, etc.? that wasn’t good then and it is not now) and eventually it dies down. The wear pants to church was a big flop. This will be too.

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