197 comments for “GC Day One: Fall Conference Open Thread

  1. i was living in portugal but i have moved to aleppo, syria because ive taken a job here. now my wife and I are at an internet cafe listening to general conference on the internet. i am greatful for the technology that brings me this. and greatful for this country that allows me to listen to the prophets. but let me say…to you that have chapels, how i wish i could be a chapel to hear general conference, especially the priesthood session, because that will not be broadcast on the net. take advantage of what you have.


  2. Someone clarify something for me–did President Hinckley say that not one but three new temples were in the works for Salt Lake Valley, two more beyond the one previously announced? Perhaps I misunderstood him, but I thought that was what he said.

    Anyone want to take a guess about the one location that he mentioned but wouldn’t discuss, because the formal announcement hadn’t been made yet?

  3. There is value in nuance, to a certain extent. It is true, those who work in certain professions make a living on it, myself included. I do not, however, find virtue nor anything worthy of praise in nuance.

    I glory in truth, especially when delivered definitively, without apology. Indeed, never does Isaiah 55:9 ring so true as when the nuance of man is “brought low” by plain and simple truth.

    I am referring of course to the Trading Places discussion when viewed in light of this morning’s session of conference. President Faust, no stranger to nuance, knows that there is no place for equivocation in the Kingdom of God.

  4. Neat new way to watch conference from BYU TV:


    It allows you to “rewind” the broadcast and start playing from any point previously broadcast. So if you miss the first ten minutes of the broadcast, you can watch the whole thing at a ten minute delay, or even pause it momentarily if your 18 month old drops a full glass jar of applesauce on the hard kitchen floor.

    (Requires Internet Explorer and Windows and a broadband connection, and some patience — also seems to work best at 800×600)

  5. WillF–

    My sincere condolences on the applesauce incident. And thanks for the link, this is very cool.

  6. I believe President Faust noted that mothers (or was it women in general?) have a different role, something that seems to cause confusion with people who are not sure whether there is a different role or just a different responsibility for mothers. Nice of him to clarify.

  7. Frank–

    i believe he said role, although i’m not sure what distinction you (or he?) is making betweem a role and a responsibility here. ?

  8. Occasionally I’ll here people say that, although the mother has the responsibility to care for her children as in the Proclamation, that does not mean she actually has to do the care, just see that it is done through delegation. The idea being that it might be her responsibility but not particularly her role or occupation. President Faust’s statement suggests that such is not the case.

  9. Unless, of course, she is a bad mother. In which case, it really should be her role. (I’m thinking of abusive situations, etc.)

  10. “Men are not the priesthood.”

    Go Elder Oaks! Woohoo! This type of, as he calls it, ‘shorthand’ annoys me. This entire talk is fabulous.

  11. Elder Oaks isn’t even finished yet, but I am amazed at the extent to which his words address ideas that have been floating in the bloggernacle lately. Fabulous.

    (And I’m not only saying that because what he says agrees with my personal opinions. But it doesn’t hurt.)

  12. I’m pained to learn from Pres. Hinckley that we are to think of ourselves with colonialist imagery…

  13. I agree, Julie! But I’m still confused. Elder Oaks stated emphatically (using words of Pres. Kimball), that men and women are full equal partners in the family relationship. But then Elder Oaks repeatedly referred to the structure of the family as “patriarchal”. How can there be an “equal partnership” within a patriarchal structure? The typical definition of patriarchy is “A man who rules a family, clan, or tribe”.

    I enjoyed Elder Oaks’ talk, but I’m still confused. What does it mean when he says men and women are equal partners, but the man is in charge of the family (i.e., patriarchy)? What am I missing here?

  14. Elisabeth, let’s get back to that later. It deserves a really good answer, not one I can write while listening to Elder Holland.

    By the way, is this the pro-woman session or what? Go Elder Oaks! Go Elder Holland!

  15. Yes, John C, I didn’t mean to slight Sr. Tanner or any other speaker. I really like an emphasis on modesty, particularly when rooted in deep eternal truths and respect for women’s bodies.

  16. Elder Holland’s plea for the YW to accept their bodies is wonderful. I’ve longed to hear the YW get this message! This is so important!

  17. Sister Tanner was good, too. I especially enjoyed her “I ate too many sweet rolls so I don’t feel spiritual”. I know that feeling.

    Wow, Elder Holland is talking about the EXACT same thing I mentioned a few weeks ago – about body image (maybe he’ll mention eating disorders???!).

  18. Holy cow. I’m having one of those – “the leaders of our Church are inspired” moments. Elder Holland is right on. Thank you!

  19. “great and spacious make up kit”

    I love him. This talk is so very, very important for our YW and adult women. I’m teary. I love this.

  20. So what is new about what Elder Oaks has been saying? Was there something new? I didn’t hear it. He said it was the way his home was run and that was a long time ago. It was sure the way my parent’s home was run. My father deferred to my mother on just about anything she had an opinion about.

    I am very sorry if you had different examples of Priesthood Leadership that cause you to think this is new doctrine or practice or even advice.

  21. No suggestion that anything was new in Elder Oaks’ talk (save maybe the specific reminder that men should not be referred to as “the priesthood”), but given the lack of understanding of these important topics evidenced in some corners of the bloggernacle (not to mention the real world), I think it is a wonderful, timely reminder.

    (I do think, tho, Elder Holland has covered some new ground in speaking very specifically to the social trends that harm YW. I want to hug him.)

  22. RT (18) “I’m pained to learn from Pres. Hinckley that we are to think of ourselves with colonialist imagery…”

    It was indeed a surprising opening, that (anti-)comparison with the British Empire. Difficult at first sight to make sense of it because it was pretty lengthy. But many international members will read in it a condemnation of war (which it contained), something that many desired to hear after the (for them) disturbing statements in a former conference that seemed in support of the war. The comparison might have been a handy way to include such a condemnation.

    Not my opinion, but the probable interpretation of members abroad. The Saturday morning session is massively broadcast to other countries, so content is sometimes extra sensitive to them.

  23. 29 Some timely comments about fashion trends too. No more flip flops in Sacrament Meeting ladies!

  24. What about his hinting at a double-standard in men’s and women’s dress at Sacrament Meeting?

    Personally, I think that it would be nice if more women dressed up like they were fixing to spearhead a corporate takeover. Might go a small way towards mending the power imbalance in many wards between genders (emphasize the word “small”).

    Sorry if this post is a bit crude, I’m still recovering from his “Great and Spacious Makeup Kit” remark.

  25. Elder Oaks has been trying to teach us not to equate men with the priesthood for a long time. He said something similar in his talk “The Relief Society and the Church,” May Ensign 1992, 34

  26. Elder Oaks also made a reference to business law that not everyone might have got.

    He said that spouses are to be “full-partners” and not simply “limited partners.”

    In Partnership law, a limited partner has no voting rights and doesn’t participate in the managing of the partnership. The limited partner merely contributes money, work, or resources.

    Full partners, by law, have an equal right to manage the partnership and an equal vote in decision-making.

  27. Wilfried, thanks for that international perspective.

    Seth, what do you mean? I didn’t catch anything about a double standard. And I like your corporate takeover imagery.

    Melissa, thanks for the citation. Now what can we do to get his teachings to take root in my ward (grin)?

  28. Holland: your clothes should treat you as good friends would: they should never degrade or exploit you.

    Amen, and Halellujah!

  29. RE Julie:

    I said he was hinting. He was addressing young women. Then he started talking about declining standards in church dress. While that remark wasn’t explicitly directed at only the women, the context seems to imply it.

    Or I’m just reading too much into this.

  30. Seth–

    Thanks for the bus law reference; vrey interesting.

    Forgive me for being dense, but I don’t get how “your clothes should treat you as good friends would: they should never degrade or exploit you.” is a double standard.

  31. Er, no Wilfried, that was not why he mentioned the British Empire (as a condemnation of war). If he wanted to do that he would have done so. He just wanted to say that there’s a new force in the world, a kingdom cut out of the mountain without hands. The trouble is, most people who lived under the British flag knew that they were part of the empire. Most people in the world would be surprised to hear that they live under the Mormon empire. He actually used that word, “empire.”

  32. Had nothing to do with responding to your post. Your post happened while I was typing.

  33. Seth – thanks for pointing that out. Hence my continued confusion about equal partners and patriarchy. I guess I see this arrangement akin to saying that the Prime Minister and the Queen are “equal partners” in ruling the country. How can they be equal partners since the Queen has the power to dissolve Parliament and kick the PM out of a job? I’m confused.

  34. RE 39: I keep saying the unofficial 4th mission of the Church is world domination. =)

  35. Well, Elder Oaks explicitly said that the husband and the wife do not have the power to “ex” the other from the family, so I don’t follow your metaphor.

  36. Let the spin begin! And the session’s not even over yet! Well, since I’m on… : ) I liked that Elder Holland specified at the beginning of the talk that men, women, and youth should all apply his talk to them in spite of the fact that he was using Young Women as the example. Kinda like YW (and adult women) more usually having to liken male language to themselves. So, you men, how are you going to liken the great and spacious make up bag to yourselves? How are you going to change your dress and health habits?

  37. Actually, listening to Elder Eyring, I need to revise to say that I will begin training on Monday for a marathon. Now, I just need to find a marathon.

  38. I love the “full-partner” term (and all it’s business law meaning). But why oh why do they insist on continuing to use and emphasize the preside and patriarchal words?

  39. John C. – of course! But the metaphor is that the Queen has more power than the Prime Minister. The man has more “power” than the woman in a patriarchal family structure, so how can it be an “equal” partnership?

  40. Yes, Elder Oaks did say that the family is a patriarchy, but then he said (as I understood him) that its a patriarchy based on a full/equal partnership. So I don’t think he meant a patriarchy in the normal sense of the word, maybe just contrasting it with heirarchy rather than with matriarchy. And he almost said that having the priesthood in the home doesn’t mean much — it sounds like there’s nothing that you can do with the priesthood that you couldn’t do without it, since the only way to use the priesthood is to do so through example and powers of persuasion. And if you live in the culture where the husband rules, phooey on the culture! It was an incredibly egalitarian talk, if you ask me.

  41. Eric,

    Sure. But why then continue to use the word???? So many of us would be ecstatic if the language matched the intent. It may seem like “just semantics” to some.. but it’s not to at least me.

  42. As far as the empire talk goes, I didn’t view it as anything sinister. I think President Hinckley was saying just like the sun never set on the British Empire, neither does it set on the Church. I didn’t read anything more into it.

  43. EricG: I agree with you. Elder Oaks’ talk WAS incredibly egalitarian. Which is why I’m not sure what the value of using the word “patriarchy” is. It’s such a loaded word, and leads people to draw all kinds of unwarranted conclusions about family relationships.

  44. Structural or institutional equality is not the same thing as practical and real equality.

    Marriage may have been conceptualized as equal, but lesser human nature has taken that structure and twisted it into inequality in practice.

  45. Kayla — I don’t know why he used the word. He certainly didn’t support it with patriarchal talk. It was just kind of left hanging there. If you didn’t know what the word meant, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the context.

  46. Because, patriarch, in a gospel context, means a righteous husband and father. It, as Elder Oaks points out, doesn’t mean what it means outside of a gospel context. I agree that it can be confusing, but only if we insist on an acontextual reading. He also made clear that presiding in the home, whatever that is, isn’t the same as presiding in the church. I think the emphasis on what things aren’t, as opposed to what they are, gives us an opportunity to work out what it means between ourselves and our God (all the parties involved in a marriage covenant). That’s how it should be.

  47. Happy 10th B-day for the Proclamation of the Family. I had no idea it was that old!

    Pres. Hinckley has used the metaphor of the sun never setting on the British Empire before (I think he used it last General Conference).

  48. Seth – true. But then why do we use the language of inequality (i.e, patriarchy) when we discuss the ideal of family life? Or was Elder Oaks not talking about the ideal? I don’t think he was saying that, ideally, the husband and wife are equal, but on earth, our family structures are patriarchal. He was saying that men and women ARE equal partners AND that the family structure is patriarchal. Which is confusing (at least to me).

  49. Elisabeth — Here’s one possiblity, although I’ll acknowledge it’s bit of a stretch. He seemed be saying that after his father died, his mother was in charge of the family, but in the context of the speech, I would think he still saw his family as patriarchal. In Latin and Greek, where the word patriarchy comes from, a male term can include the female (and in Spanish, which about as close as we can get to modern Latin, the related word padres can mean parents, not just fathers). So perhaps he was talking about families being led by parents, not necessarily just fathers. Yes, that’s a linguistic stretch, but it seems to fit in the context of what he was saying. Again, I think the contrast was between patriarchy and heirarchy, not between patriarchy and matriarchy.

  50. If patriarchal in the gospel tense means “righteous husband and father” then why not say the family is both patriarchal and matriarchal? Again, this may just be semantics but the preside and patriarch words that are constantly used are indeed troublesome to some of us, and if it’s not their intent to infer that men have more power than women in the home then why use the words at all? Why not just say, “married men and women should be righteous husbands, wives, fathers, mothers.” Or even that the wife and husband preside together in righteousness.

  51. EricG- that’s a nice interpretation, but I agree, it’s a bit of a stretch. I think most of us agree that if the father is not in the home, the mother presides. But during Elder Oaks’ talk I wondered whether a 12 year old son in a fatherless home would ever be in the postion to preside – since he has the priesthood and his mother doesn’t. Elder Oaks’ talk seemed to suggest (as you point out) that a parent always presides. So maybe patriarchy isn’t the best description of our family structure. But, since Elder Oaks is a former attorney, I would assume he choses his words carefully – so he probably means “patriarchy” when he says “patriarchy” – even though he says mothers and fathers are equal. Confusing.

    John C. – my preferred description of family structure is to say that the family is a theocracy. God presides, and the mother and father work together as equal partners.

  52. With all the incessant discussion and careful parsing of terms like “patriarchy,” “roles,” “responsibilities,” etc., that seems to go on in the Bloggernacle all the time, what the Church really needs is a department that issues private letter rulings (like the IRS) in response to specific inquiries from members with specific gender role concerns or questions about family power dynamics that arise out of specific factual situations. Maybe we could then refer to them in our conversations and reach more meaningful consensuses (consensi?) on these issues.

    Aaron B

  53. EricG (#51), think about this from the perspective of the many members of the church in former 20th-century British colonies specifically, and in the Third World more generally. Many of these members are likely to remember the British empire and European imperialism more generally in a brutal, degrading, domineering, violent light. Latin American intellectuals that I know often compare European imperialism to rape. Are we wanting to depict ourselves as rapists?

  54. Aaron B–

    Or, we could have fun writing those ourselves:

    ” . . . and so the subcommittee has ruled that a breach in the fulfillment of garbage removal duties does not in fact justify the withdrawl of physical affection, therefore . . .”

    ” . . . and so it is the majority opinion of this esteemed body that egregious televised sports consumption does in fact mitigate the financial impact of multiple nonessential footware expenditures . . .”

  55. Elisabeth, excellent. I agree with you on that. I actually think it fits in with Elder Oaks’ use of patriarchy (if you see The Patriarch as the patriarch).

    I think that what Elder Oaks means by “patriarchy” is explicitly not what is normally meant by patriarchy. He takes some pains to go through all the negative connotations and state that this is not what he intends. So, it must have some positive meaning that it is up to us to figure out. I think he chose his words because that was the word that fit best in his estimation, but he is clearly using it in an esoteric way.

  56. RT,
    His point was simply that we span the globe. I suppose he could have compared us to McDonalds. Would that have been less problematic?

  57. Aaron – that’s a great idea! Preferably on a no-names basis. So maybe the SEC No-Action letter would be a better model.

  58. Judy — You’re probably right. But for some of us, it’s hard not to obsess about parsing words. :) The important thing for me to do as the adult male priesthood holder in my family is to see what in the talk applies to me. And what applies to me is that I don’t have the right to use my priesthood as a trump card of sorts, and that I should view my wife as a full and equal partner. I wouldn’t apply the word “patriarchy” to that situation, but so be it.

  59. Oh and regarding EricG’s padres,
    Didn’t Elder Oaks say something like “patriarchs and single mothers”? Does this help or hurt your definition?
    Shutting up now.

  60. RoastedTomatoes,

    Bad as the European imperialists were, it’s often ignored how depraved and reprehensible the cultures that they stomped on were. Cortez raped the New World? Please! Montezuma was doing a perfectly good job of raping the New World before Cortez showed up.

    But getting back on topic …

    The problem is that Patriarchy has meant one thing for most people for so long and now the Church leaders want it to mean something different (or they want it to mean what it was meant to mean originally before people messed it up, take your pick). I guess there’s nothing wrong with this per se. Societies and cultures often define themselves by reinventing the language.

    Dallin H. Oaks is simply reinventing what patriarchy means. You have to look to the rest of his talk to determine what he believes the word means.

  61. RE: patriarchy I brought this up before when we talked about equality in marriage. Pres Benson said patriarchy means “The Family Order” of leadership (rather than a worldly or hierarchical system). To me, it was the same distinction Elder Oaks made. I’ll see if I can find it again and provide a link.

  62. An answer to the “equal” conundrum expressed by several of you:

    A lot of people confuse the descriptive meaning of “equal” with the evaluative meaning of “equal”.

    Today’s talks and the “Proclamation to the World” imply this difference, but don’t explicitly say it. However, without this distinction, many phrases in these works would be in direct contradiction with each other.

    Many cultures (including our own) have not valued women historically and many people still do not. Unfortunately, this misogyny (which has always been at odds with the true gospel) gets confused with the different roles that the gospel gives women and men.

    It is odd, but many people who would never consider themselves sexist, have views that are ultimately chauvinistic. This includes valuing one type of role over another, whether in the family, government or society.

    As the gospel teaches, the roles our society most desperately needs filled are those of fathers and mothers. The problem is, too many people don’t value those roles and/or have been persuaded to think that fulfilling them is a burden. Others chafe against the fact that the roles are distinct and equate the distinctions with societal discrimination of the past. Such confusion can cause what would otherwise be societal progress to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. Such thought also confuses the beauty of difference with Satan’s counterfeit: misogyny.

    The concepts of “Presiding” & “patriarch” are major parts of the gospel just as is “motherhood” and being a mother. The constant mentioning of “equal partners” is not descriptive or it would contradict the other oft mentioned terms above. Instead, “equal” is evaluative…i.e., it is saying that one role is not more important than the other.

    Of course, for those who are afraid about what the exact nature of family governance is, they can easily be reassured by the talk of Elder Oaks and scores of other talks that have been given for many years with similar points and themes.

    Conventional wisdom is a strong force, and people often think they are hearing a “departure” or something “new” in Conference. It is also easy to think one part of the gospel contradicts another. The trick is to ponder and try to figure out how all truth can be “circumscribed” into one whole.

    For me, knowing that these talks are given by God’s servants is the first step; the second step is pondering and applying. I have lots of unanswered gospel questions myself, but I over time, most of them have been answered through patience, study and faith.

  63. Roasted Tomatoes — I understand what you’re saying, and as a person who is familiar with the Third World, I agree we need to be sensitive to perceptions outside the U.S. I just didn’t read that much into his statement. And now I must get back to the work I need to get done today ….

  64. The President Benson talk about the patriarchal order being “the family order” is “What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children About the Temple” in the August 1985 Ensign.

  65. Patriarchy et al –

    Some wonder why Oaks is using such a loaded term. Probably for the same reason many feminisits in the church still cling to term feminism, despite the fact it is a loaded term that many in the church (and world) at large associate with anti-male (among other things) attitudes. But they realize that just beacause the term has unpleasent connotations doesn’t mean it has to, or the term can’t undergo some redefinition.

    Unless those who criticize Oaks’ use of “patricarchy” (and its deriviatives) are willing to stop using the term “feminism” (and its deriviatives). ;-)

  66. Open letter to Elder Oaks and the rest of the brethren:

    “Dear Elder Oaks,

    We don’t like the words patriach and patriachy. You see these terms have been co-opted by our cherished feminist movment to signify that which oppresses women. We don’t like references to women’s dress codes. We don’t like the use of the words “men and women” as a pair (i.e. men and women) could you substitute pople or humanity or such.

    Also please tell Elder Holland that women’s fashion is none of his business. It is just more patriarchy to tell women how they should dress. Oh while you’re at it could you ask President Hinckley not to use colonialist metaphors. Colonialism was the bane of our world and contributed too much to the spread of patriarchal religion. We prefer tribal religion and the like. Suttee in India was a wonderful custom that was stamped out by colonialism.

    Thank you for your willingness to listen to us. We are all very bright people with good educations.


    The Bloggernacle”


  67. Elder Eyring’s thoughts were powerful and practical but not very controversial. Therefore, they probably won’t give much fuel for the fires of the bloggernacle crowd.

    I liked his talk quite a bit though. It’s more fun to talk about revealing fashions, chauvanism, and cultural imperialism than it is to discuss true religion: visiting the widows and the fatherless, etc. etc.

  68. You’ve got a point, Ivan, but it breaks down the minute one looks up the most basic definitions of these words.

    Patriarchy: a social system in which the father is the head of the family and men have authority over women and children.

    Feminism: belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. (dictionary.com)

    Plain and precious is supposed to be our message. I unfortunately share the frustration of Elisabeth, etc. when terminology like this continues to be used.

  69. I listened again to the “empire” passage. It’s surprisingly long, not just a little comparison of “where the sun never sets”.

    “… Great good came of the Empire in many area’s, but also tremenduous suffering, conquest, oppression, war and conflict…”

    Then he quotes Rudyard Kipling:

    Far-call’d our navies melt away –
    On dune and headland sinks the fire –
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

    Next comes the comparison with the Church: “There is another Empire… the Kingdom of God”, and this came not about because of “conquest, conflict, war”, but “by gentle persuasion”.

    Again, I do not interpret, but I think many members abroad will read in it an implied condemnation of war — whether their understanding is beyond the intent or not.

  70. Julie,

    “Now what can we do to get his teachings to take root in my ward (grin)? ”

    Well, I’ve previously hand delivered the talk I cited to two bishops and had positive experiences (in the course of interviews) discussing why, for example, it is not quite accurate to stand up and thank the “priesthood for blessing and passing the sacrament.” In both cases the bishop ceased to use this phrase. Of course, the women are gulity of this sort of synecdoche too. How many times have you heard a woman stand in a Relief Society meeting that the bishop or counselor is attending and say something like “we’re so blessed to have the priesthood with us today?”

  71. Seth,

    Elder Eyring’s talk was the most striking to me. You know how there’s usually at least one talk in conference that we “need” to hear? This one was the one I needed.

  72. I wish I’d been able to hear Pres. Hinckley’s statement. Windows Media Player decided to have an emotional breakdown for the first 20 minutes of Conference. So I missed it.

    I think what Pres. Hinckley is doing is illustrating the longstanding tension between Zion and Babylon. Enoch’s city of Zion and Babylon (at its height) were actually quite similar. Both were militarily strong, both were prosperous, but there were crucial differences.

    What he was doing is showing how the empires of the earth (and the paradigms they represent) come and go and are at best fleeting. By contrast, we are trying to establish a new world order built on very different premises.

  73. Crystal, I agree.

    But like some of the best posts on Times and Seasons, some of the best talks are also the least discussed (not that Elder Holland’s and Elder Oaks talks weren’t excellent).

  74. I just wanted to thank those in this thread who provided links to on-line video and downloadable podcasts. They are coming in very handy.

  75. But Eric G., don’t you think that’s just a matter of common sense. I don’t think a prophet really has to dilenate common sense.

  76. Ashley –

    you’re arguing denotation and I’m talking connotation. The analogy does not break down when looked at from that angle.

    Actually, what you’re doing is mixing the two. You want to use feminism soley from its denotation, but complain about the connotation of patriarchy.

    So, no – my comparison does not break down.

  77. Seth,

    I think that one reason I was so struck by it is that it’s something the entire membership of the Church has to be aware of.

    In Institute this week, we discussed what it meant to be in the dispensation of the Fullness of Times, and what would have to occur to bring about Zion. If were aren’t spiritually prepared, the work will go on, but without us. I think we tend to be a desire oriented people sometimes, which isn’t an entirely bad thing. We’ve got to desire to do the right things, but then we have to be able to turn that desire into action.

    This dispensation will see Zion. When that happens, no one woll be a part of the Church who isn’t willing to pray the price of righteousness. We have to choose to be righteous.

    I think that Elder Eyring gave us some very helpful jumping off points.

  78. I really loved Sister Tanner’s talk….first time in a long time that I can remember that a WOMAN has taught actual doctrine across the general conference pulpit. Reminded me of the wonderful old days of our beloved Sister Dew.

  79. Ivan, if both terms have undergone some redefinition over the years, I’d just like to know more precisely what has changed with the term “patriarchy”–I was excited to hear the subject of Elder Oaks’ talk, for this reason.

    Eventually, widespread changes in the connotation of a term will be reflected in a dictionary definition, thus my citation of the 2 terms. I understand that “feminism” often rings a dissonant chord with church members–I’m saying that “patriarchy” rings a muddy one.

    I recently attended a temple marriage where the sealer said to them in his own remarks, “Now you’re a patriarchal family.” I was left thinking, What–now they’re an eternal family? Now they’re a family led by the father? (What of the “equal partners” rhetoric?) Now they’re a family with one member who holds the priesthood? The term is less than clear to me.

  80. Eventually, widespread changes in the connotation of a term will be reflected in a dictionary definition, thus my citation of the 2 terms

    Connotation is often more important than denotation, since Dictionaries are, by design, very conservative (in regards to language) and around 10 years behind the times. In this case, the denotation of patriarchy is close to its connotation. The same isn’t true of feminism, but their connotations are both controversial and polarizing.

    And while I agree when you said “I understand that “feminism” often rings a dissonant chord with church members–I’m saying that “patriarchy” rings a muddy one.” – but patriarchy strikes a dissonant chord with most femninists. What I am saying is that the dissonant chord that “patriarchy” strikes with self-described feminists is roughly equivalent to the dissonant chord “feminism” strikes with most members of the church.

  81. So why not give the meaning meant in the talks instead of these words. Already those who identify themselves as feminists in the “equality of the sexes” dictionary definition are terming themselves “humanists” in order to avoid the negative connotation of the word. Why can’t the church do the same with preside and patriarchy? Utilize new terms that do not carry the baggage.

  82. Does anyone know if the Relief Society General Meeting is broadcast online? I thought it was. I’m just wondering why the Priesthood session isn’t.

  83. Thanks. Anyone know why the Priesthood session is not broadcast online? Is it more important for the men to physically get together and listen to the speakers than the women?

  84. I’ve never heard of feminists taking the term humanist. Humanist isn’t a new term. They know that, right?

  85. Well, Priesthood session was pretty neat.

    Elder Bednar led off talking about how we talk too much about “going” on a mission. What we ought to focus on is “becoming” a missionary, and we should start years before age 18. He also said that “raising the bar” also applies to parents and youth leaders.

    Next was Charles Didier who spoke on the importance of hearing the will of God from the appointed sources (scriptures and prophets) and then heeding the message. He mentioned the confusion in modern christianity, many of whom worship a “silent crucified Christ.”

    Then Paul V. Johnson who dedicated his remarks entirely to the importance of General Conference. He urged us to make GC a priority in our lives and “read the talks more than once.”

    James E. Faust then gave a very engaging talk on the competence of our current church leadership. He mentioned Pres. Hinckley’s remarks to Mike Wallace how it is “wonderful” that the Church is led by men of experience and maturity. Pres. Faust then mentioned that Pres. Hinckley has served longer than most of the GAs in the past (including Brigham Young). He also mentioned that at age 85, he is the current 3rd oldest GA serving: “I have not sought this honor. I have simply lived for it.” (he got a pretty good laugh from that). He called us to “Stick with the brethren.” It won’t lead you astray.

    Thomas S. Monson then spoke on the importance of simple service, supported with abundant personal experiences. He mentioned a pair of home teachers in East Germany during the Cold War who left home to do their home teaching, traveled all the way to Hungary (meeting with a brother who hadn’t had church contact since before World War II) and got home a week later. Do your duty, leave the rest to God.

    Then we heard from Gordon B. Hinckley. He spoke of Hurricane Katrina. He first EMPHATICALLY stated that his remarks should not be construed to indicate he felt God was punishing the wicked via the hurricane. He spoke of the Church’s relief efforts. Then he mentioned that disasters such as Katrina are abundantly spoken of in the scriptures (particularly Matt. 24). He also mentioned the Chicago fire, the Tsunami’s in Hawaii and more recently in Indonesia, the San Fransisco Earthquake, Galveston Texas, the Black Plague of the 14th century and Pompeii. He also mentioned the man-made horrors in Darfur. Interestingly, he reminded us that Salt Lake sits on a fault line and said that the rennovation of the Tabernacle was for such an event (earthquake). He said that the best storehouses are in the home (then he told us that this isn’t new advice and we shouldn’t make a run on the grocery stores). He alluded to Pharoah’s vision of seven years of plenty. Then he said the best preparation is to live so we can feel confident in calling upon God’s protection (and listening to the Spirit).

    That’s the short of it.

  86. Thanks. Anyone know why the Priesthood session is not broadcast online? Is it more important for the men to physically get together and listen to the speakers than the women?

    It does get put on-line in print shortly after conference is over.

  87. Interstingly, I think Paul V. Johnson was the only one who so much as mentioned pornography directly.

  88. Frank McIntyre (#10), here is what President Faust said (thanks to A Nonny Mouse #75 and the KSL podcast):

    Women have full equality with men before the Lord. By nature, the roles of women differ from those of men. This knowledge has come to us with the restoration of the gospel in the fullness of times, with an acknowledgement that women are endowed with the great responsibilities of motherhood and nurturing.

    It turns out President Faust was merely repeating what he has stated previously: “father and mother are equal partners with different roles.” Fathers, he said a year ago, function outside the home and prepare children to do likewise. On the other hand, mothers function inside the home and prepare children to live within families.

    Elisabeth (#19, 41, 57, and 62), doesn’t President Faust eliminate some of the confusion?

  89. So when Elder Oaks eliminates the words Patriarch, Patriarchy, and Patriarchal from Church vocabulary, should he also eliminate the Patriarchal Priesthood and its attendant ordinances (you know the ones in the temple that make families eternal)?

  90. “Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!”

    Times and Seasons, please read this comment tomorrow.

  91. Did anyone else notice when President Faust spoke that he hardly had any of his normal Parkinson’s tremors at all? Is there new medication out or something, because that was neat to see? He seemed amazingly spry and upbeat. His sense of humor was working quite well too!

    Another thing, during the priesthood session, President Monson described the sacrament meeting he attended BSA National Jamboree this summer. There were 5000 LDS scouts present. He said 65 priests and 185 deacons administered the sacrament (I wonder how many teachers prepared it all!). Very cool.

  92. I think they do not broadcast the Priesthood session because it is only for the men. Women cannot attend the conference, so I suppose they wouldn’t broadcast it for everyone either. This doesn’t make much sense since they publish it soon after, but I guess they have to be consistent.

  93. I got a kick out of Melissa (#85) lecturing her bishops on semantics. Aaahh, to have a life so full of luxury that you can expend your energy engaging in such important exercises. How is your bishop doing in visiting the widows? Spending time with the youth? Is he too strict in his interpretaton of “temple worthiness”? That’s just what every bishop needs.

  94. “Elder Oaks isn’t even finished yet, but I am amazed at the extent to which his words address ideas that have been floating in the bloggernacle lately. Fabulous.

    (And I’m not only saying that because what he says agrees with my personal opinions. But it doesn’t hurt.)”

    I felt the same way.


    Thanks, that was illuminating. That makes a lot of sense of things.

    Seth Rogers,

    Brother Didier’s statement about preaching the Christ whom crucifixion could not silence really struck me too (I was listening in Spanish so probably your wording is the correct one).

  95. Mike B,

    Of course you are right that language use is not as important as visiting the widows or spending time with the youth. However, both of the wards involved were student wards (no youth and no widows). One of the wards was also so deeply divided on gender issues that some of the women were becoming less active. The conversation I initiated led to some changes in the ward which positively influenced retention. Sometimes we are unreflective about the way we speak. Language not only reflects our thought it shapes and produces it. Calling people’s attention to the implications of their speech can go a long way to solving more “important” problems.

  96. Gary: Thanks for the quote. Pres. Faust adds a helpful perspective, but it doesn’t clear up much of the confusion for me surrounding the concept of how a full partnership can exist in a patriarchal structure. Pres. Faust defines the roles according to gender, and states that neither role is more important than the other. This helps explain the “equal partners” language.

    But I guess I’m still confused by the language of patriarchy here. It just doesn’t seem to fit. If the man and the woman are equal partners, why is it necessary to point out that the man is in charge? (which is what “patriarchy” means).

    I’m also confused about Pres. Faust’s statement in last year’s Ensign that you linked to, where he says that fathers are “better equipped” to teach their children to function outside the home. What does this mean? Does it mean that fathers are better “equipped” to teach their children how to succeed in a school environment? Church? Work? He wasn’t specific, and I don’t want to assume what he meant, but I don’t think you can easily separate the skills needed to get along well in the outside world, and those needed to get along in family relationships. I think they are, by and large, the same.

  97. Frank (#10): “Roles,” rather than “responsibilities,” has always been the prevalent term for discussing gender-divided spheres, both in General Conference and in the larger debate, which is precisely why it’s notable that the Proclamation does not use that word. Whether one is justified in reading any substantive meaning into the omission is, of course, a matter of interpretation—like any other non-authoritative reading of the text.

    Gary (#108): Elisabeth’s point is not subtle, and I’m sure you can grasp her meaning: President Faust says men’s and women’s roles are equal, but then says that one of men’s roles is “presiding,” which problematizes the language of equality. That said, President Faust’s and Elder Oaks’ pronouncements on family life are not subtle, either, and I think Elisabeth should be able to grasp their meaning: they clearly want all family decisions to be reached by full consensus of the husband and wife. The question of why they continue to preserve the lexis of patriarchy and presiding is an interesting and, I think, important one, with roots in history and ordinance—but it seems rather deliberately obstinate to continue to express confusion over their vision of family life.

  98. Rosalynde –

    Of course I can grasp a vison of family life from the Proclamation and the talks given yesterday, but I think it’s important to try to understand the meaning of the words used. And when I listen carefully to the words (i.e., patriarchy, but full, equal partners), how this vision of family life translates into reality actually isn’t all that clear to me.

    Yes, gender roles and family structure within the Church is a tired, old discussion for some, but it’s something that is important to me, and an issue for which I haven’t yet been able to “put on the shelf” for contemplation later. Deliberately obstinate? Maybe. But hopefully, my obstinance in finding the answer to my questions will pay off with a complete resolution of these issues for me.

  99. I didn’t read all the comments on patriarchal so I’m not certain if this definition was covered. First it refers to the order of the priesthood that both men and women enter into when they are sealed in the temple. Neither one can enter that order alone. They must do it together as husband and wife. Patriarchal in this context means “from the fathers or fore-fathers”, which would also include mothers since godhood is parenthood. When a home is patriarchal, it is a home where parents were sealed together in the temple. The Lord’s definition of patriarchal is not the same as the worlds. Patriarchal is synonymous for a priesthood order that both men and women enter together. When apostles refer to patriarchal, they are referring to that order of priesthood.

  100. Rosalynde,

    I would think General Conference statements would be the obvious context from which to determine the interpretation of the Proclamation. And here you confirm that the role/responsibility divide, created by some, seems to be a non-starter from that view. If one wishes to interpret the Proclamation in a way one likes, ignoring statements by the Brethren who revealed it, well at that point perhaps one has deeper problems with authority that need to be resolved first.

  101. One of the things from Pres. Faust’s talk last night that really struck me was his story of a Bishop who decided to be a good sport and participate in a “Dunking Machine” to raise money for some charitable end.

    He mentioned how furious his father was at the lack of respect being shown to the Bishop who had served the ward so faithfully.

    Sometimes I wonder if our current generation isn’t disadvantaged by the adaptive, flexible, and even casual attitude we take toward authority, priesthood, and spiritual things. I myself have been guilty of levity on more than one occasion. I also sometimes wonder if my attitude isn’t too familiar with God.

    I wonder if my generation hasn’t lost the ability for respect that seems to characterize many of my grandparents’ generation.

  102. Why don’t we focus on this question? Since no one is attacking Rosalynde for being obstinate or for refusing to accept authority and counsel from inspired Church leaders for asking this question (which is also my question), maybe we can focus on answering it, instead.

    “why they continue to preserve the lexis of patriarchy and presiding is an interesting and, I think, important one, with roots in history and ordinance”

  103. Seth,
    That example stuck out to me as well, though my immediate reaction was the opposite. I thought his dad should lighten up. Just because they want to have a little fun and dunk the bishop doesn’t mean they don’t respect his authority and his person. The priesthood leaders that have had the most influence in my life have been those with whom I was friends with, those who would have had fun with the whole dunking thing.

    But that was my immediate reaction and I don’t want that to dictate how I feel about it. So the jury is still out for me.

  104. Well Rusty, that’s the question isn’t it? I think your remark reflects the common sensibility of this day and age. We tend to get impatient with ceremony, and love to take potshots at sacred cows. To an extent, this is probably a healthy development. After all, we don’t want to elevate offices and ceremonies to such an extent that we worship the trappings of religion and not the true and living God. We don’t want to behave like the medieval pilgrims traveling about worshiping holy icons with religious fanaticism.

    But have we swung too far in the other direction? Is it really the Bishop’s job to be all buddy-buddy with people? My own personal experience has been that familiarity often breeds contempt. Sure, people LIKE the more personable bishop more. But are they more likely to follow his counsel?

    In my own youth, I remember having several seminary teachers and youth leaders who just tried to be “one of the gang.” They’d joke around with the youth, hang out, and get on their level. But I also remember being extremely annoyed with these leaders because they couldn’t control a classroom or an activity to save their life. The kids knew that they were equals and they shamelessly exploited it.

    Personally, I would have preferred a Boyd K. Packer who could sufficiently awe the youth into listening attentively.

  105. “So when Elder Oaks eliminates the words Patriarch, Patriarchy, and Patriarchal from Church vocabulary, should he also eliminate the Patriarchal Priesthood.” There is no such thing as the “Patriarchal Priesthood.” See Doctrine and Covenants 107:1.

  106. 125
    Costanza, “Patriarchal Priesthood” is a synonym for the Aaronic Priesthood because it was passed from father to son. PP was used more commonly earlier. Here’s one example:

    The Patriarchal Priesthood

    After the organization of the Council of the Twelve Apostles in Kirtland in 1835, the members of that council were called to go into the mission field. March 28th of that year they came to the Prophet seeking a revelation in relation to their duties that they might understand more perfectly what the Lord required at their hands. In answer to this request, the great revelation on priesthood (D&C 107) was received. In this revelation certain knowledge was revealed concerning the Patriarchal Priesthood and its descent from the beginning of time [see verses 13-17 – manaen]. Regarding this priesthood the Lord said:

    It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation—

    The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

    This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:

    From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his [Adam’s] death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth;

    Because he [Seth] was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father, insomuch that he seemed to be like unto his father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age.

    (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Seek Ye Earnestly”, 220.)

  107. The term “patriarchal priesthood” has been used in several contexts, including the one you cite above, which has led to some confusion. It has also been used to describe the office of Patriarch to the church (which was also a father-to-son arrangement, and the priesthood held by the “patriarchs” in the Old Testament. This confusion has often led to the error that I was responding to, the notion that the temple ordinances are somehow part of and administered under the authority of a separate priesthood. Elder Packer responded to this tendency to confuse the term “patriarchal priesthood” with the patriarchal order in a talk he gave to a General Authority training meeting in 1992. In that talk he said “There are references to a patriarchal priesthood. The patriarchal order is not a third, separate priesthood. (See D&C 84:6–17; D&C 107:40–57.) Whatever relates to the patriarchal order is embraced in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The patriarchal order is a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood which enables endowed and worthy men to preside over their posterity in time and eternity.” (Published in the Ensign, February 1993).

  108. Seth Rogers is right. It’s a product of an age where a hostess at the Olive Garden thinks she ought to call me by my first name, and it’s offensive.

  109. For the record, I prefer that she call me by my three initials, without periods or spaces, all lower case.

  110. katie: women are _not_ allowed into a priesthood session? since when? I’ve never seen a woman turned back. I’d take my wife if she was interested, and we listened to the RS conference together.

  111. Elisabeth–

    I will freely concede that patriarchy is filled with negative connotations. But our leaders go to great lengths to remove the inappropriate connotations, as Elder Oaks did today. I don’t think we can give up on a word just because the world misuses it. We’d have to give up scripture, baptism, priesthood, covenant, heaven, motherhood, grace, salvation, the list goes on and on.

    One thing that no one has mentioned (unless I missed it) is how this translates for the nonEnglish speaking Saints. What kinds of words are used to translate patriarchy, and what connotations do they have in the target language?

    As for a dunking booth: the entire purpose of that kind of ritual is to reinscribe the authority and prominence of the one dunked; that’s why they are chosen. At the same time, the result (a soggy, sputtering bishop) may not be appropriate.

  112. Lyle-

    Do you mean you took your wife to the Priesthood session in the SLC Conference Center or at your home ward? I do not know about home wards, I was only referring to the actual meeting in SLC. Several people have told me that women cannot attend that meeting, and I had a friend who tried to go and was turned away. Has anyone been to the actual SLC meeting….are there women there? I may be mistaken.

  113. Our stake had auditions for the father-son choir that sung in Priesthood session. I wondered if the mothers of those sons get a chance to see them sing. Do the stakes record the session and put it in the chuch library?

  114. I’ve seen women with us in the stake center as we watched General Priesthood meeting. They seemed to be expecting some confrontation. Instead, the nearby brethren smiled and went about their business of listening to the meeting. At the end of the meeting the women seemed to have a mixture of surprise they weren’t confronted and recognition that the messages were harnless andtimely for priesthood holders.

    I once sat on the front row of the Tabernacle with a girl friend for a general Relief Society meeting — had similar response from the sisters there.

  115. Elisabeth, “deliberately obstinate” was too strong, particularly for someone who shows herself to be as generous in debate as you; my apologies. It may be your training at work, your lawyerly instinct to parse and press for contradiction coming to the fore—(this is what my training urges me to do, too, incidentally)—but it did seem to me that you were pressing rather harder than was warranted.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my take on why “patriarchy” is still with us. Elder Oaks’ distinction between the “patriarchy” of the home and the “hierarchy” of the priesthood quorum seems to me to acknowledge what are rather manifestly two very different organizational models for the family and the Church: the family is a more organic social unit (this is not to say that it’s not socially constructed in some ways, of course), the biological genesis of which quite naturally implicates two partners whose reproductive outcomes are equally invested in its success, and thus fairly amenable to a system of governance by consensus; the church, by contrast, is an institutional unit, and an increasingly rationalized one, as Elder Packer’s litany of administrative-prophetic achievements this afternoon demonstrates, much more easily administered by a hierarchical system of executive management. (As an aside: I think it rather remarkable that in designating the priesthood structure as “hierarchical,” Elder Oaks has removed the explicitly gendered term of “patriarchy”—though this is NOT a prediction, polemic or celebration. Also, I think it pretty fantastic that he is willing to acknowledge a rupture between family and priesthood structures: in traditional systems of patriarchy, it is the concept’s remarkable susceptibility to analogy—between state, church, and family—that has allowed it to, in some circumstances, deliver sexist results so efficiently and persistently, though, of course, it is also what set various manifestations of “patriarchy” against each other, ultimately to the concept’s weakening; NOTE this is not to accuse Church patriarchy of being sexist, but precisely to DIFFERENTIATE it from sexist patriarchies.)

    So we have family, we have church—but we have temple, too, and temple is where the two models meet. Temple ordinances work to render family relationships in a priesthood context, which is no easy task, conceptually speaking. Temple worship and its supporting doctrine is, nowadays, so far removed from what we recognize as familiar in family and church—the only element of temple worship regularly imported into church meetings and family instruction is “families are forever”—that for most people it’s not difficult to make the distinction Elder Oaks makes between family and church governance in everyday life. However, there it remains—and the vocabulary of patriarchy is deeply imbricated in temple worship. Because of the sacredness (and remoteness, and unfamiliarity) of temple ordinances, I would imagine that the leading quorums are extremely loathe to change them, particularly to make substantive changes, of the sort that they have been willing to make in descriptions, say, of family life. Thus “patriarchal” remains, and by linking it to the consensual model of family life that is the new ideal, Elder Oaks works to change its community-specific meaning. In that way, we could perhaps see Elder Oaks’ retention of patriarchy in a positive light: by redefining it so radically with reference to family life, he is also, obliquely to be sure, beginning a redefinition of some elements of temple worship. (From my perspective, “patriarchy” as Elder Oaks uses it us primarily a metonymic shorthand for “authority” generally—and the idea of authority seems to me absolutely fundamental to Mormon thought.)

  116. Rosalynde #117, said: “President Faust says men’s and women’s roles are equal, but then says that one of men’s roles is ‘presiding,’ which problematizes the language of equality.”

    Regarding the perceived contention between one party presiding and both parties being equal, I believe there are similarities between the equality that exists in marriage and the equality that exists in the highest quorums of the Church. D&C 107:24 says the Twelve are equal to the First Presidency. But only when there is no First Presidency does the Quorum of the Twelve preside. Therefore, one meaning of marriage equality is that both father and mother are empowered to preside and therefore, as Elder Oaks so beautifully illustrated, the mother does preside in the father’s absence.

    Another meaning of marriage equality that can be learned from the presiding quorums of the Church is that, whenever possible, the father and the mother act in unity. They counsel together, just as every Thursday the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve counsel together. The rule among the Apostles is, “If there is a lack of unity, there follows an absence of action” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1990, 50). Shouldn’t the same rule apply in marriage?

    Under these conditions, I see no contention between one marriage partner presiding and both marriage partners being equal.

  117. Very nice, Gary.

    I would add that the equality language should cause us to reflect on what presiding means and how it happens: anything that one has put under the umbrella of ‘preside’ that implies inequality needs to be tossed to the elements.

  118. Gary, those are interesting points, but your argument seems no different to me than the observation that the Vice-President of the US assumes the office of President if the standing President should die, resign or be ousted—yet it would be pretty silly to suggest that the Pres and VP hold equal offices. (Also, to be a little silly about it, why do those fabulously hierarchical flow-charts of GAs always put the First Presidency at the top, with the Prophet highest of all?) Listen, I’m all in favor of working out resolutions, but I don’t think the people who are most in need of those resolutions will be convinced if we don’t acknowledge that there is, at least at the level of language, a contradiction there.

  119. Rosalynde #139, there are many examples of words that have a unique meaning within the gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems obvious that the word “equal” as used in D&C 107:24 is one of those words—illustrated by the Ensign centerfold each May and November (as you have neatly pointed out).

  120. Elisabeth #116, I can’t speak for President Faust of course, but regarding the concept of one marriage partner being “better equipped” than the other for certain roles, here is an example:

    Mother’s intuition, with which most of you are familiar, is a form of divine guidance in its purest and simplest form. (Harold B. Lee, Improvement Era, Dec. 1966, 1144.)

    President Faust has also recognized this particular area of special endowment for women. Notice again how the divine law of witnesses is invoked:

    The Lord values his daughters just as much as he does his sons. In marriage, neither is superior; each has a different primary and divine responsibility. Chief among these different responsibilities for wives is the calling of motherhood. I firmly believe that our dear faithful sisters enjoy a special spiritual enrichment which is inherent in their natures.

    President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling…. Other institutions in society may falter, and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife” (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 39.)

    It’s just a thought….

  121. “In THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints there are two priesthood divisions: the Aaronic and the Melchizedek. The highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood is patriarchal authority. The order was divinely established with father Adam and mother Eve. They are the fount and progenitors of all living, and they will appear at the culmination of earth’s history at the head of the whole sealed family of the redeemed. The promises given to Abraham and Sarah pertain to this same order.

    “Three principles underlie the patriarchal order. First, the primal parents of the race were in their paradisiacal state in Eden united in eternal bonds before death entered their lives. Second, the fall of man and the continual source of degeneration in this world have resulted in the estrangement of parents from God, from each other, and from their children. Third, the healing of this broken harmony is the essence of eternal life, as is the perpetuation of powers of creation and procreation—eternal increase.

    “The patriarchal order is, in the words of Elder James E. Talmage, a condition where “woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood,” where husband and wife minister, “seeing and understanding alike, and cooperating to the full in the government of their family kingdom” (Young Woman’s Journal 25 [Oct. 1914]:602-603). A man cannot hold this priesthood without a wife, and a woman cannot share the blessings of this priesthood without a husband, sealed in the temple.

    “Concerning patriarchal authority, the Prophet Joseph Smith admonished the Saints: “Go to and finish the [Nauvoo] temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood” (TPJS, p. 323, cf. D&C 107:18, 20). This priesthood and its associated powers were introduced in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1843. It was first conferred upon the First Presidency, the apostles, and their wives (WJS, pp. 244-45).

    “Today dedicated husbands and wives enter this order in the temple in a covenant with God. The blessings of this priesthood is given only to husbands and wives together. Their covenants extend beyond this life (D&C 76:59, 60), beyond death (D&C 132:20-24), and into the resurrection, to eternal lives, the eternal giving and receiving of life.

    “Thus united, they work in love, faith, and harmony for the glorification of their family. If they are not united in obedient love, if they are not one, they are not of the Lord. Eventually, through this order, families will be linked in indissoluble bonds all the way back to the first parents, and all the way forward to the last child born into this world. This priesthood order will be both the means and the end of reconciliation, redemption, peace, joy, and eternal life.”

    Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

  122. The Fathers & Sons choir was extraordinary! After the opening musical number, my spiritual cup was already running over. The closing number was also splendid. If any of you brothers happen to read this comment, thank you so much! It is the highlight of the conference so far!

  123. Jason Richards–

    Thank you for that quotation. Does anyone else read it and desire to partake of that fruit? I know I do. It speaks of true and delicious doctrine to me.

  124. Jason Richards- thank you very much for sharing that quote with us. It sheds much light on Elder Oaks’ talk – and on the evolution of our definition of “patriarchy”.

    Rosalynde- thanks for your response. I do have an annoying tendency to define terms – no doubt due to my legal training. Along those lines, my machinations to define “patriarchy” remind me of one of my favorite law school cases, where two ships were called “Peerless”. One ship was to sail in October and the other in December. One of the cotton merchants who had contracted to receive cotton on one of the Peerless ships intended to accept the cotton on the Peerless ship that sailed in October and refused to accept the cotton on the ship that sailed in December. The rule of the Peerless case is that no contract (or understanding) arises unless both parties have the same meaning in mind.

  125. I missed Elder Oaks’ talk, so my only basis for comment is a sampling (not a full reading) of the comments above. But I have an idea for what Elder Oaks may have been doing by retaining the language of patriarchy even while encouraging complete equality in marriage.

    Elder Oaks is a lawyer. And, as Nate might say, he may well have been advancing the ball here in much the way it is done in the common law system of s*tare decisis*.

    Look, Mormonism has long been a profoundly patriarchal religion, and certainly until relatively recently that obtained in the home no less than in the governance of the Church. The language of patriarchy is thoroughly engrained in our religious culture.

    Now, it would be fine with me if we just chucked it all and said from now on, no more patriarchy, but now we’re going to a structure of equality, to a partnership model of marriage rather than a hierarchical corporate model. [That is in fact the kind of marriage I have, and I personally dislike the imagery of patriarchy.] But the average member cannot take such a sharp turn. Just as the law moves slowly and turns like a large ocean liner, gradually, so does the Church. People need stability, and the average person in the pew imagines that nothing ever changes in the Church, although those of us with an historian’s sensibility realize that is certainly not true.

    So I see Elder Oaks as using the language of patriarchy because it is so engrained in our past, but redefining it in a way consistent with our preferred contemporary model of an equal partnership. Gradually, over time, people will forget that we once practiced true father-rule in our homes, and will think that we have always practiced egalitarian parent-rule.

    Just as the law moves slowly to preserve stability, so too must the Church. I would see Elder Oaks’ comments in light of his profound legal training, as bridging a former world with a contemporary ideal and the hoped for world to come.

  126. Why is the priesthood session not brodcast on the internet? I think it is like #100 said, so they will physically get together. Why is that? Just my opinion, maybe it is a “type” of things to come, referring to the priesthood meeting comming soon to an Adam-ondi-ahman near you.

  127. I remember when I was a boy travelling up to 60 miles away for the priesthood session of conference. We would meet in a stake center, sit on the soft seats on the stand (there were never enough men to require more than that), and listen through a direct phone line to SLC. And while technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, some things never change: the high priests used to fall asleep during those meetings, too, just as they do today.

  128. “I would add that the equality language should cause us to reflect on what presiding means and how it happens: anything that one has put under the umbrella of ‘preside’ that implies inequality needs to be tossed to the elements.”

    Why couldn’t it equally well be said that the presiding language should cause us to reflect on what equality means, and that anything one associates with ‘equality’ that implies a lack of presiding needs to be tossed?

    In other words, like Elisabeth, I’m still having a hard time of seeing how these fit together, unless you adopt the idea that ‘patriarchy’ is used for sentimental and historical reasons but isn’t meant to be taken serisouly.

  129. Adam,

    I fully agree with your second paragraph.

    And I don’t support the idea that patriarchy isn’t meant to be taken seriously.

  130. honestly, folks — and I’m not trying to be obtuse here — but how on earth can two people be equal if one of them is in charge? Adam, Julie, et al: are you trying to redefine “equal” to mean something other than its commonsense interpretation? Or are we trying to redefine “patriarchal” and “hierarchy” to make them mean something other than what they typically mean?

    You cannot make a square peg in into a round hole; you cannot have a non-hierarchical patriarchy, or an equal hierarchy, or an equal patriarchy! There are fundamental conflicts in these terms. This isn’t lawyerly semantics at work, it’s a genuine problem in word choice.

    I have no problem with people saying that husbands and wives are equal partners. I also have no problem (being a man) with patriarchy. But I don’t think that any of us can conceptually explain the conflicting terms laid out for us by our leaders. Fortunately, as we are led by the spirit from day to day such things tend to work themselves out…

  131. You’ll notice, Steve Evans, that you defined “preside” in your comment as “being in charge.” While there are elements of being “in charge” (i.e., selecting people to say prayers), there are other elements of being “in charge” (i.e., having your opinion count for more than others’) that are not part of presiding. While something like selecting the pray-er (is there a better word for that?) is important, it is not something that undermines my equality when my husband does it. In what ways are my rights violated by that? What do I lose? On the other hand, if presiding included the right to decide where we went on vacation (not that we ever go on vacation . . .), then that would create an unequal relationship.

    Does this help? I’m wondering if one way to think of this would be a Venn (sp?) Diagram with one circle labelled equality and the other labelled presiding/patriarchy. The circles are filled with what the world considers them to include. It is only the area of overlap that constitutes acceptable behavior in family relations in an LDS home. Is this a useful idea?

  132. Julie, I don’t know that the LDS definition of “presiding in the home” is meant to mean choosing the pray-or and other de minimis leadership. Yes, it’s problematic to consider presiding otherwise, but gutting the term doesn’t seem to be much of a solution, either…

    which is why I think we are getting some difficult mixed messages. This is not to criticize the Brethren; if we’re following Christ and listening to the Spirit, we’re not going to go wrong. But that’s a rough way to write policy.

  133. Steve, I didn’t mean to suggest that choosing the pray-er was the only function of presiding (it isn’t in this house); I was just using it as one example. Maybe you could provide me with an example of presiding that you think contradicts the equality injunctions?

    I don’t think they are mixed messages; I think they define each other to discourage cultural excesses in both directions.

  134. Steve Evans –

    Julie has it about right, in attitude as well as idea. Basically, an apostle has been using both terms as compatible – this forces us, as believing Mormons to try and find someway to make the two work together (and they say the Bretheren don’t expect us to use our intellects!)

    To try and do otherwise, i.e. – claim that equality & presiding are incompatible is to acccusse Oaks and other GAs of speaking nonesense.

    Trying honestly to grapple with what our modern day prophets, seers and revelators are teaching us is one thing, but arguing their words are contradictory is another thing – and one I would we would avoid.

  135. Steve Evans –

    also – if all we really need to do is “follow the Spirit” – then what do we need the GAs for, exactly? You seem to be arguing (and I hope you aren’t) that they aren’t that important, and if we’re “in tune with the Spirit” we can ignore their “mixed messages” and do whatever feels right.

  136. I’m agreeing with Julie, Ivan and Steve all at once here. I think that “preside” and “equal” are compatible, but I think Steve is right in saying that our traditional understanding of the words don’t jive. I’d be interested in hearing someone provide a detailed, nuanced description of exactly what “preside” means. I’m afraid I can’t do it.

  137. “you cannot have a non-hierarchical patriarchy, or an equal hierarchy, or an equal patriarchy”

    I think this is true on earth. it will be almost impossible for a real couple to both have the husband fully preside and also to be fully equal. Something will give a little in either direction.

    But there can be an equal hierarchy and an egalitarian patriarchy. God is Christ’s father, his acknowledged superior, yet they are fully equal, to a degree that would be impossible here on earth, to the degree that they are one.

  138. Ivan, you can do better than to suggest I’m trying to knock Elder Oaks or any of the brethren.

    Their words ARE contradictory, and you cannot argue otherwise, unless you change the traditional meaning of the words. Elder Oaks has said to us, “you can be equal and have the man preside in the home.” If we use dictionary definitions, this is an inherent contradiction. Perhaps it is up to each Saint to interpret his words according to the spirit; this is lousy policy, however, for any organization of millions (except for ours — since we have the Spirit, luckily!).

    Julie, I can’t think of any instance of presiding where everyone stays equal; even silly choices like who says the prayer or who’s next to read from the scriptures deny equality. Adam’s point is right: the Godhead is the only example I can think of where there’s equal hierarchy. Only fitting, I guess, that they should be our exemplars. Mind you, we’re not exactly privy to their day-to-day stuff…

  139. Steve–

    Re your second paragraph: I think it is clear that Elder Oaks worked hard yesterday to offer up a definition of preside and equality that is different from the cultural connotations. As I said before, we cannot abandon words just because the world defines them differently (there would be too many!), we have to reclaim them.

    As for your third paragraph, I have a hard time seeing how equality is denied by proper acts of presiding. I’m not trying to be dense (I grant that I may be that way naturally . . .), I just don’t see how righteous presiding denies equality any more than women being primary nurturers (remember all those quotes about motherhood as the highest and noblest calling and next to divinity?) suggests that men are inferior to women.

  140. “Julie, I can?t think of any instance of presiding where everyone stays equal; even silly choices like who says the prayer or who?s next to read from the scriptures deny equality. Adam?s point is right: the Godhead is the only example I can think of where there?s equal hierarchy”

    I have to agree with Julie that I don’t think these kinds of ceremonial acts of hierarachy conflict with equal value. Otherwise, of course, even the Godhead couldn’t be equal. In fact, I believe that among the fully exalted, these ceremonial acts of hierarchy are entirely what hierarchy consists of.

    By the way, the contradiction we’re seeing here isn’t just in marriage. Bishops are definitely in charge, but they’re supposed to act in one with their counselors. The prophet is the prophet, no one else, but he is supposed to act only in unision with his counselors and the Apostles. He’s in charge of them and equal with them, in other words. In practice, there’ll sometimes be a bit more of being in charge and sometimes a bit more of being equal. It will change depending on the particular backgrounds and sins of the opeople invovled, and the situation. It can change with time, too. On the agricultural frontier we talked about patriarchy and meant it. Now, an emphasis on equality fits better with the preoccupations of the time.

  141. When Julie in Austin and Adam Greenwood reach complete agreement about presiding and equality in marriage, you KNOW it is time to work on your food storage. Get busy, people.

  142. Yup, get your food storage. That’s one message of Priesthood session. If agreeing with Julie in A. is what it takes to spur you, then I’ll agree with Julie in A. Let’s see . . . why, yes, I do think translating hymns into Latin is a wonderful way to spend sacrament meeting.

  143. Steve –

    well, at that point it seems you’ve gone beyond what I deem feasible or proper (sorry).

    It seems to me that we have Apostles and Prophets for reasons other than to satisfy our own beliefs about patriarchy/equality/whatever.

    The fact that they are prophets/seers/revelators means we must try to find some way to make sense of it and to apply it to our lives, not dismiss it because we’ve decided we’re smarter and more nuanced than they are.

    At that point, I’ve lost interest in the conversation with you. I apologize for that, but it sounds like you’ve decided you understand the gospel better than Oaks/Faust/etc. At that point, I can’t have a conversation. Maybe it’s a fault in me (comments you’ve made to me in earlier threads indicate that’s how you’ll take it), but while Elisabeth/Julie/Rosalynde and others seem to be honestly trying to come to grips with the pronouncement of our leaders, you’ve decided to write them off as unnecessary (and possibly an impediment) to the “spirit.”

  144. good grief, Ivan. What do you think I’m trying to do, besides make sense of what Elder Oaks has said?? Where have I dismissed anything he said at all? Sorry to have made you lose interest (!), but I don’t see where I’ve said anything infeasible or improper.

    You can disagree with me, sure: but don’t misconstrue my words unfairly, since I haven’t done the same to you or anyone else. Your statement that I’ve “decided to write them off as unnecessary (and possibly an impediment) to the “spirit.”” is false. I’d appreciate it if you went back, reread my comments, and retracted.

  145. Why not think of the family as a theocracy? With God presiding, and the man and the woman as equal partners. I think Elder Oaks might have meant “patriarchy” in this way, especially if you consider that men and women hold the priesthood together. (See comment #142) However, I have to agree with Adam Greenwood and Steve Evans, that the word “patriarchy” is confusing in this context.

  146. Steve
    Ivan, you can do better than to suggest I’m trying to knock Elder Oaks or any of the brethren.

    Their words ARE contradictory, and you cannot argue otherwise, unless you change the traditional meaning of the words.

    The whole point of the discussion ahs been that Oaks et al are trying to change the traditional meaning of the words. Yet you stubbornly hold to the “Their comments make no sense” line.

    Your above comment “you can do better than suggest” implies that you ARE knocking the bretheren.

    also, your claim this is lousy policy in reference to the bretheren also shows some contempt for any charitable reading of their words.

  147. temper, temper, Ivan. Maybe I’m just slow, but how does me telling you that you can do better imply that I’m knocking the Brethren? I’m knocking you — a small difference.

    Maybe I haven’t read carefull – but I didn’t see that the whole point of this discussion was that Oaks is changing the meaning of words. I’m not even sure Oaks would see it that way. My point was simply that unless they are in fact changing the traditional meanings of these words, their comments seem contradictory. That’s not knocking them in the least. As for contempt…? you’re stretching to find offense, and there’s none. However, you’re sure not showing a whole lot of charity.

    now, about that retraction…

  148. oops — that should be “carefully” in my 2nd para. As in, I should proofread my comments more carefully.

  149. Elisabeth,

    I think that’s a good way to look at it. However, it does not explain, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness” from the Proclamation.

  150. Steve and Ivan–

    C’mon, guys, just because Adam and I shook hands doesn’t mean you two have to pick up the gauntlet to fill the void.

    Please both work hard to be sure that the other person will perceive your inherent kindness (what I know of both of you suggests to me that it is there).

  151. Eric–

    A takeoff on your and Elisabeth’s points would be to suggest that the woman gets to exercise in mortality part of God’s role (i.e., motherhood is next to divinity) and the husband gets to do exercise a different part(presiding). Does this work?

  152. temper, temper Steve –

    your adjectives “losuy” – “silly” – and others indicate a lack of charity on your part.

    As far as knocking me – I’m used to it. Every other time we get in a discussion at T&S (and one reason I never visit BCC) you tend to either insult me or give me backhanded compliments. I tend to expect it from you.

    I see no need for a retraction. I may be reading you uncharitably, but that is likely because I see little charity in your comments.

    I’m going to stop now, since I have to get to bed early tonight. I will honestly say I do not feel angry, upset, morose or bellicose – more bemused and cynical. Perhaps I need to rest and ponder conference more. Perhaps I am letting my temper get away from me and just haven’t realized it yet. Who knows? (The Shadow knows …. okay, I really need to go to bed……)

    I still feel because the Bretheren are THE BRETHEREN, they deserve a bit more respect than constant cries of “contradiction!” and “mixed messages!” and that it does them a disservice to just say “well, I’ll just rely on the spirit since their messages make little sense and are contradictory” since that renders the GAs useless and possibly detrimental.

  153. Okay – one last thing

    after Julie’s post, I now feel ashamed. I really need to get to bed, but I shall apologize to Steve for my uncharitable readings of his posts, admit I likely read too much into them based on previous bloggernacle encounters we have had, and promise to do better in the future (i.e. read Steve’s – and others’ – posts more charitably).

    Now, good night.

  154. Julie, that actually makes sense to me. But I sense that it plays into the priesthood/motherhood dichotomy that has long been objected to in the bloggernacle. I’m probably not the best one to respond to that.

  155. In reality, “equality” doesn’t exist. It is a mere artificial legal construct that aids us in governing an egalitarian society. No two things in life have an equal chance, not rocks, not dogs, not people.

    We say women should be equal to men (or that men should be equal to women!) because it’s more convenient to try to run a fair society that way. Equality is nothing more than an administrative convenience. As a result, in application, “equality” sometimes arrives at ridiculous results.

    I once heard a woman say of the gender divide: “I don’t want to be treated equally, I want to be treated FAIRLY.”

    Now, I understand that Elder Oaks actually used the word “equal” in his talk. But really, I think the Church leadership is advocating FAIR treatment of women, not EQUAL treatment of women. There’s a big difference.

    It’s obvious to any six year old that women are different than men. Literal equality is therefore, an impossible ideal. In fact, it isn’t even an “ideal” situation since literal equality could result in extremely unfair results to both men and women.

    Now, the question still remains whether we really ought to strive for “fair” treatment of the sexes, or whether “equal” treatment is a more preferable guideline due to administrative convenience.

  156. 178
    “It’s obvious to any six year old that women are different than men.”

    “That’s so easy a four-year old could do it. Go get me a four-year old.” –Groucho Marx

  157. “Let’s see . . . why, yes, I do think translating hymns into Latin is a wonderful way to spend sacrament meeting.”

    “You have an amazing memory, Mr. Greenwood.”

    Yes. Because that’s the sort of humdrum detail that just doesn’t normally stick in the mind.

  158. Please allow me to second the notion (or third, fourth, or fifth the notion at this point) that Elder Oaks and the Brethren are seeking to change the contextual definition of patriarchy. By systematically removing all negative aspects of our cultural understanding of the term, he is clearly saying that we aren’t supposed to understand it in the manner that the world does. By insisting on acontextual definitions, you are missing the point!

  159. Please allow me to second the notion (or third, fourth, or fifth the notion at this point) that Elder Oaks and the Brethren are seeking to change the contextual definition of patriarchy. By systematically removing all negative aspects of our cultural understanding of the term, he is clearly saying that we aren’t supposed to understand it in the manner that the world does. By insisting on acontextual definitions, you are missing the point!

  160. John: “By insisting on acontextual definitions, you are missing the point!”

    I know, I know.

  161. I guess my idea of presiding is totally different than most people. I am president over the Relief Society in my ward. I preside. I decide who visit teaches whom. I choose my counselors, I choose who teaches lessons, plans activities, who needs help and service, etc. I do not in any way think that any of the women (or men) in the ward are less equal than me. In fact, I am probably not as spiritually in tune as most of the people in the ward. However, I have been given an assignment, so I do it. Does God think I am better, as a 26 year old woman, than other women in my ward who have served him longer than I? No, he just felt it was time for me to do this calling. Am I more spiritual? No! God just has people do his work, so we do it. So my husband has the priesthood, does that make him better than me? No, he just has a different assignment. If someone did not preside over the Relief Society, would the callings get accomplished? Maybe, but most likely not. In all companies, businesses, churches, someone presides. In the family, if a Father is a part, he presides. He doesn’t rule, just like I do not rule over the Relief Society. Often my counselors know much more than me. That is what they are there for. Just like husband and wife. They counsel with each other. No father, then mother presides. My husband is the one God asked to preside over our family. It does not mean he is better than me. He has just been given an assignment. Just like I am no better than my counselors or any of the sisters in my ward.

  162. In this discussion on the equality of husband and wife and the role of presiding, it might be interesting to inject Paul’s words about the relationship of husband and wife:


    So by implication, we, the church, are equal with Christ, although Christ presides. It might be valuable to also consider that Paul described this as “a great mystery.” By implication this means that the husband-wife relationship points to truth taught in the House of the Lord–so it may be that a paradox is a necessary tool for presenting this mystery of Godliness.

  163. Eric Russell-

    I used to be very bothered by the mhood/phood comparison. I think I am OK with it now (although I don’t feel entirely settled about it just yet) for the following reason: the gospel ideal of motherhood (i.e., full time) and the gospel ideal of fatherhood (part time, since many hours are spent away working) are not a fair comparison at all. But mhood and phood are, if (and it is a big if) you consider phood to include phood as well as fatherhood and the requirement to provide for the family.

    Great points. I would add one thing: both Elder Oaks on Sat and the famous Elder Packer line about “not pulling phood rank on your wife” suggest that the difference between being a President in a church calling and the preside-r in a home is that the preside-r does not have “the final work” as a president does. Hence the “full partnership” language.

  164. “both Elder Oaks on Sat and the famous Elder Packer line about “not pulling phood rank on your wife” suggest that the difference between being a President in a church calling and the preside-r in a home is that the preside-r does not have “the final work” as a president does.”

    I don’t think this is true, Julie in A. Presiders in church callings aren’t supposed to override their advisers either. They do, but that’s just an accommodation to practicality.

  165. Really, Adam (asked genuinely, not snarkily or any other bad way)?

    My sense was that the role of a counselor in a presidency is to provide counsel and then, if the president (or bishop) decides contra your input, to support that decision 100%. Whereas I think Elder Oaks et al has made clear that in marriage (as Pres. Hinckley said about the 12) “no consensus means no action” (paraphrase).

    In fact, the Pres. Packer quote I referenced above involves him training a new stake pres. He told him that he shouldn’t treat his wife the way he treated the stake. Since he wasn’t planning on mistreating either, he was a little taken aback. Pres. Packer explained what my above paragraph does about his relationship to his counselors and then said that if the stake p. ever “pulled phood rank” on his wife like that, he had failed.

    I concede that if the presidency members were all equally and fully inspired, then this situation should never come up, and you are right that it is an accomodation to practicality in that sense. But my understanding of all the above is that this kind of “accomodation to practicality” is NOT acceptable in the context of marriage.

  166. Maren: Your points are well taken, and bless you for the good work you do in Relief Society. A note: even though you have been given the title of “president” of the RS, you do not preside in that organization because you do not hold the priesthood. The right to preside in the Church obtains exclusively to priesthood office, and thus the Bishop presides over the Relief Society. (Stake and General RS officers do not preside in any capacity, either.) In fact, you do not choose your counselors or make any other callings, either; you make suggestions to the Bishop, who then approves, finalizes and issues the callings. (See Elder Scott’s very clear pronouncement on this in the August Ensign.) Your duties as RS President are organizational, motivational and exemplary; you do not have executive authority.

    That said, your understanding of “presiding” as an essentially pragmatic and, in some sense, arbitrary assignment that facilitates organizational behavior is the way that I prefer to understand the term, as well. But because the right to preside in the home and in the Church is linked to gender, many people make the claim that such a right is in fact NOT assigned arbitrarily, that there is something essential in women that makes them less suited to preside and something in men that makes them more suited to that right. This is the sort of reasoning that is difficult for some women to accept.

  167. Julie in A.,
    There are sound, practical reasons why “accommodations to practicality” will lean more in favor of authority and less in favor of equality in presidencies than in marriages. Agreed. Its the ideal that is the same.

  168. RW–

    I’m going to quibble with you on the necessity of needing the priesthood to preside: Didn’t Elder Oaks say (and, we’re in the realm of oral tradition here–I may be remembering wrong) that his widowed mother presided in the absence of his father?

  169. RW–

    Though I really liked your word choice: “Your duties as RS President are organizational, motivational and exemplary; you do not have executive authority” I must quibble on the blanket statement that ward RS Presidents do not preside.

    I double-checked the CHI and Elder Scott’s address. The handbook section on Relief Society only uses the word ‘preside’ once that I can find: (Bottom of page 201) “[Enrichment meetings are held monthly at a time other than on Sunday or on Monday evening. The ward Relief Society president presides, and the counselor assigned to [enrichment] conducts….” It describes the bishop’s role thus: “The bishop oversees the ward Relief Society.” [Pretty good since the word bishop derives from the Greek word for overseer.]

    The point that the R.S. President provides recommendations to the Bishopric for counselors to serve with her, doesn’t seem all that persuading, since the Bishop likewise provides recommendations to the Stake Presidency for counselors to serve with him. [and so on, and so forth all the way up to and including the First Presidency.]

    I think Elder Scott’s address turned on the point of Keys of Presidency. Since the Bishop holds the keys of the oracles of heaven for his ward, ward callings issue from his Bishopric. Likewise, since the Stake President holds the keys of the oracles of heaven for his stake, the stake callings issue from his high council (NB, in his case a quorum of the high council must sustain the recommendations that come from the Stake Presidency, not just his two counselors.)

    But if you want to quibble, you could point to the Elders Quorum Presidency and High Priest Group Leadership, who have to confer with the Bishop (and Stake) but may issue some calls within their respective Quorums/Groups. In the case of the Elders Quorum, the logic of Keys follows, but in the case of the Group Leadership…. Besides which, isn’t every member supposed to exercise the gifts of the spirit in her/his respective callings? So I’m not sure that I fully understood Elder Scott’s point here.

  170. IMHO, mhood/phood, preside/president, role/responsibilty, equality/equal, patriarchy/exploitation are quaint and temporary distinctions in the contexts of humanity’s historical and potential states:

    “…in the language of these Scriptures was called Adam—male and female created he them, and called their name Adam, which in the original, in which these Scriptures were written by Moses, signifies “the first man.” There was no effort at distinguishing between the one half and the other, and calling one man and the other woman. This was an after distinction, but the explanation of it is—one man, one being, and he called their name Adam. But he created them male and female, for they were one, and he says not unto the woman multiply, and to the man multiply, but he says unto them, multiply and reproduce your species, and replenish the earth. He speaks unto them as belonging together, as constituting one being, and as organized in his image and after his likeness. […]

    ” ‘What,’ says one, ‘do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?’ Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself, and anything pertaining to the creation and organization of man upon the earth, I must believe that Deity consists of man and woman. Now this is simplifying it down to our understanding, and the great Christian world will be ready to open their mouths and cry, ‘Blasphemy! Sacrilege!’ […]

    “I only repeat what he says of himself; that he created man in the image of God, male and female created he them, and he called their name Adam, which signifies in Hebrew, the first man. So that the beings we call Adam and Eve were the first man placed here on this earth, and their name was Adam, and they were the express image of God. Now, if anybody is disposed to say that the woman is in the likeness of God and that the man was not, and if vice versa, I say you are both wrong, or else God has not told us the truth.

    “I sometimes illustrate this matter by taking up a pair of shears, if I have one, but then you all know they are composed of two halves, but they are necessarily parts, one of another, and to perform their work for each other, as designed, they belong together, and neither one of them is fitted for the accomplishment of their works alone. And for this reason says St. Paul, ‘the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.’ In other words, there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female.”
    (Erastus Snow, JD, 19: 269 – 271.)

    So, can’t we all get along?

    “I say unto you, be *one*; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27)

  171. Jason: Interesting point data point on RS presidents “presiding” at Enrichment meetings. If it’s meant to constitute evidence that officers of the female auxiliaries (or, presumably, the officers of the male auxiliaries, although this is not entirely clear) do preside in the Church in the same way that the officers of the hierarchical priesthood-quorum structure preside, I must respectfully maintain that I’m not convinced.

    Julie: Yes, he did say that when the father is unavailable, the mother presides in the home—which obviously is a significant departure from the procedure in the Church. One of Elder Oaks’ main points seemed to be that “presiding” in the home has a very different meaning than presiding in the Church; thus his designation of family structure as patriarchal and Church structure as hierarchical. In other words, he seems to disclaim precisely the analogy between family and church governance that you and Adam and Maren have been agreeing on. Presiding in the home, then, seems NOT to be a priesthood function, although it is still gender-linked (thus exploding the one theory of presiding in the home that made any sense to me). Because it’s not a priesthood function, we’re left needing an entirely different rationale for the gender linkage. Unless, of course, it IS still a priesthood function, and we’re seeing a softening of the gender-allocation of priesthood office.

    The more I think about it, the more questions I have about the whole thing, in fact. It is probably always thus when we witness active doctrine-making.

  172. ” . . . and after he fell into the mud puddle, Pooh’s head was spinning . . .”

    I’ll need to think more about what you wrote, Rosalynde, because I can’t untangle it. Undoubtably my fault, not yours, but there you have it.

  173. Rosalynde W.,

    Couldn’t it be that the wife is presiding in her husband’s stead? Just as a Bishop’s counselors preside in his absence, through automatically delegated authority, though not Bishops themselves.

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