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June 11, 2014

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Margaret

Yes!

Kristine A

Yes, many tears today. Thank you for this reminder.

D

My fear is that people will look at her and say she is getting what she deserves. It is a difficult situation for all involved. While, I felt the feelings she describes I have chosen to express that differently and privately. I don't feel that makes me better or holier than Kelly. I pray that she is blessed with peace to know what is the path that she should take and in her future decisions. I pray that all are charitable in their thoughts and opinions of her because it is not our place to judge. Heavenly Father knows our intentions and what is in our hearts and I believe his judgements will be based on those feelings.

I love that instead of leaving the church so many are staying to educate members and declare their love of the gospel when they struggle with how best to live it. We need voices that are unlike our own.

GK Risser

Thanks, Neylan.

Katherine

Beautiful, Neylan. Thank you.

Tiffany Lewis

Thank you Neylan. You echo my sentiments exactly.

Luisa Perkins

Thanks for this, Neylan. I echo every one of your lovely, articulate words.

Kerri Green

Beautiful, Neylan.

Liz Wiseman

Neylan, I have so much respect for your views, your open mind and your call for inclusiveness. Thank you for the leadership you provide to so many women (and men) of our faith. Let's all pray for a greater understanding and light as we learn to truly live the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Cristina

thank you for your words. My heart truly aches for Kate at this time and it aches for me and what this means. This is not what God wants. God wants us to love and respect each other. I am truly sad and at a loss.

Amy Cartwright

Thank you, Neylan. This was lovely.

Hkobeal

Beautiful, Neylan. Thank you, sister.

Emily

I love this. Enough that I might actually start reading blogs again :)

Verily Stevenson

Beautifully put, thank you for your statement

Meg Conley

My heart has a million things to say and my mouth won't make a sound. Thank you for speaking for me tonight.

beeg

I liked your post and agree with what you said. Your last paragraph suggests that the current course of action by her leadership is not what the Lord would want. I personally don't know if it is or isn't, but I think we should be careful in judging those men as well. Heaven knows they are in a tough spot too. The world is watching them and making conclusions about them and the church based on this single event. Let's pray for all of them.

Readyforcloseup

Thank you for this. I was so hoping to hear your inevitably thoughtful, considerate, kind thoughts today.

Tracie

Amen and thank you for expressing this so well.

Lori Scriver

Thank you so very much for your sweet article. i am one who believes wholeheartedly it is not our place to judge anyone. I believe the Brethren of the Church and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, who truly knows what is in a person's heart can truly judge someone. Whether we agree with someone else's opinions or not it is not our place to pass judgement but to simply love them. Though I have strongly disagreed with Kate's position I have prayed for her constantly and ache for her now. Jesus taught us to love one another, to love all people, not only those who think the way we do. I think in her heart Kate thought she was trying to something good for the church. It is no one else's place to judge her other than Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and they will do so through the Brethren of the Church. It breaks my heart to think of what she must be feeling and I pray for her comfort as I hope as are others. It is a hard road she has chosen. My heart goes out to her. It is my hope and prayer others remember when Jesus said, " He who is with out sin cast the first stone." He also said , " Judge not lest ye be judged." None of us liked to judged by others so lets give others that same courtesy.

Sarah S.

You know, I was a little shocked and saddened by the news, too. That was until I found out that Ordain Women is rolling out a proselytizing plan and teaching "six discussions" as part of their mission statement "to effect change through faithful agitation as a united group of LDS women." Does this idea of breaking down the church from the inside make anyone else extremely uncomfortable? I mean, I'm all for asking important questions and having an open dialogue about things we don't understand, but I just think it's important to know when you're being inquisitive and when you're being disruptive...or even combative. And as a moderate Mormon, I can't help but perceive the majority of the Ordain Women group as just that. Combative. The Savior challenged a lot of thinking and the way religion was practiced in his time, too. But he did it lovingly, by teaching, and in doing good works. There is a distinct difference when change is brought about by love and righteousness and when it comes from a place of anger and agendas.

Kristine

I readily admit that I do not know much about Kate Kelly or her organization, but whenever anyone is being disciplined by the Church, it is an opportunity for them to change. Church court does not banish a person spiritually. It is their prior destructive behavior that does that and the court should be viewed as a positive opportunity. That said, I appreciate your sentiments for her and for women in the Church in general. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Daisy

This is great insight and beautifully written. It's so difficult when non-members friend find out and start asking questions - the conversation between non-members and members becomes convoluted with little random details such as - "so you can't wear pants to Church?" "Well, actually I have before now that you mention it - but everyone does look at me funny, so maybe I ought not to? Not sure, still new..." but I guess to me, it's no different than the beginning split out groups that do different things but still believe in the Book of Mormon. As an investigator, it's always odd to talk with anyone from these groups - they have the same testimony of Joseph Smith as you and me, yet they still live as a polygamist among other things, and they don't live according to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So close, yet so far. I guess in many ways, the news is comforting to me in that sense.

Mary

I've read the NYT article, Kate Kelly's response, the Church's official statement, and they all left me with a very empty feeling. I'm discussing my thoughts with friends and family and continually feel at a loss. When I read your post, tears filled my eyes - thank you for putting to words my feelings about this very confusing and hurtful situation. All people involved are in my thoughts.

Becca

I've been really saddened by this. Mostly because I felt like were making such strides in our ability to ask questions and still stay in the church. I fear that this will silence so many honest seekers. Prayers for Kate Kelly and her leaders.

Scott Vanatter

"I want to express my solidarity with those who find present practice to be in harmony with the Lord’s will, and a cause for celebration rather than lament. I want to suggest to those who agitate for change that, while I respect their choice, there may be alternatives to the stark deprivation vs. equality rhetoric than sometimes accompanies their world-view. And I hope most of all to encourage the undecided of the middle ground to consider more nuanced ways of thinking about ministry in the kingdom, the priesthood, and Relief Society that can, hopefully, move us all in the direction of a more unified Zion community." (Fiona Givens, January 20, 2014, A Society Meet For Male Priesthood)

Monica

I weep, not for Kate Kelly, but for those of you who are still in the church, as loving sisters, trying to make a system work that is inherently unequal, patriarchal and does not anyone, men nor women, to ask hard questions publicly without penalty, as Kate has done. Kate Kelly's impending excommunication has shown that equality for women in the church just isn't possible. I pray that Kate will come to realize that her excommunication is not spiritual death, but spiritual rebirth and may end up being the best thing that ever happened to her as far as her spiritual salvation. It is those who are still in and struggling that I feel great sorrow for.

Kristine A

After a day to reflect, all I can say is that of course this action will quash discussions on women. Everything that has been said about K.Kelly has been said to me and my baby steps advocacy. Can you imagine the responses I'll get now? If I found hostility before how can I expect to find understanding? I am so lost right now.

Holly

First, I want to thank you for your post. It was very well thought out, articulate and compassionate. I had prayed for John Dehlin and Kate Kelly this morning and as well for their bishops. While I don't agree with Kate Kellys' tactics to fight for Woman Ordination in the church, however, I do know that Kate's voice is echoing many in the nation esp the church. I hope that the church will find a middle ground for this movement. I can feel the church culture changing spiritually. I don't know how to explain the promptings I feel, but know there will be a better place in the church. With the recent events, there will be better understanding and more solidarity in the church in terms of many things spiritually that is more in tune with Heavenly Father's message of love and compassion. Let's not this set us back. The church has made great strides in many levels.

Sarah Stret

Neylan, thank you so much for this. It brought comfort on an otherwise very difficult day. You words are full of wisdom and compassion.

David Fletcher

Thank you for your thoughtful words.

Susan Carter

I am not surprised that there is going to be a disciplinary action for Kate. Hopefully someday she will realize that she has gone in open opposition to the leaders of the church and the doctrines. The LDS church is not a democracy where the members come up with the rules. It is run by the leaders, through inspiration from Jesus Christ. We do not counsel our leaders, we take counsel from them.

Tara Olson

My heart aches for my friend Kate (she just moved from our ward). I have had many conversations with her and she sincerely believes the priesthood will be fully restored someday, and she sincerely believes she is following God's will for her.

My heart aches for our dear bishop. He is a sincere and thoughtful person. I know this weighs heavily on him. No one wants to be in the position to take away the covenants that are so dear and so very personal.

My heart aches for women, like myself, who feel deeply hurt by the gender inequalities within the church - inequalities that don't always have to do with ordination. I feel sad that many of these women will be scared into silence. This is sad for them personally, but also for the church as a whole. There has been wonderful progress made to address the very real issues faced by women in our church and I am afraid this action could stifle that work.

My heart aches for everyone who feels so angry. The anger and vitriol all sides is evidence of our hurting hearts.

God's will is certainly not to have us so angry. Christ taught us that love is the greatest attribute we can acquire.

In order to find peace - in order to find this love - in ourselves and in the church we must be able to listen deeply to one another - to seek understanding without a desire to change one another - and to speak with loving-kindness.

When we do this, our hearts will be changed. Perhaps we will continue to disagree, but we will do so as friends who love one another as Christ loves us.

Susan

Thank you for commenting about this. You have a beautiful and perceptive intelligence that really makes you stand out. I wanted to hear what you had to say about this issue, and I appreciate the very balanced and fair way you approached it.

I am very sad about the letters sent to Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. Ordain Women does not make complete sense to me, because I think genuine power--God's power--is not something that can be given or taken away arbitrarily, as tends to happen here on earth. Ursula Le Guin did a translation on the Tao Te Ching that I discovered recently and really love. What it says about leadership and power makes so much sense to me. Along those same lines, all church members are or ought to be familiar with what it says in Doctrine & Covenants 121 about priesthood power. Personally, I believe (and love) those verses with all my heart.

And yet there is a real gap in how women are treated. Although I see absolutely nothing in LDS doctrine to make me think it would be wrong if priesthood offices and privileges were extended to women, I don't believe the members of the LDS church are ready for that. I believe that the underlying reasons are in large measure cultural. We have become (in some ways) more Victorian than the Victorians. I do not believe it has anything to do with the gospel. In recent years, however, I have come to believe that the women of the church are like a talent that has been buried in the ground. We are discouraged from speaking with authority in our own right.

I do not get the sense that any of my leaders have any interest in what I think, what I am experiencing, or what my abilities really are as a woman. They are friendly, but there is not much opportunity to talk about anything that matters except on a limited basis as part of a group. Everything is kept superficial. As long as I go to church and do not challenge the status quo, that is all they want or expect from me.

Will those who have prevented women from sharing their full strength with others in the church someday find themselves chastised because they have silenced us, essentially burying us in the dirt instead of encouraging us to live up to our full potential? Will they be held accountable for that stewardship? I think the answer is yes.

I love to talk theology, and I have been a professional writer (technical and marketing) since 1986, yet I feel that writing about theology would automatically put me at odds with my leaders. I love to read and ponder, but if I talk about what I read at church, some of the people in my ward become extremely distressed. Many (although not all) don't want to consider any idea that would require genuine growth or thought. I have had to make the conscious and prayerful decision to narrow my conversation in class accordingly because I don't want to be a stumbling block for anyone.

I have sat through lessons where the teachers wanted to spend the entire time lecturing. I have also heard lessons that had no substance, where the teachers seemed to have no depth of understanding, or where they made serious mistakes of fact and theology, and everyone sat silent in their chairs like good but uncomprehending stones. Sometimes I speak up, but if it is something controversial, I am very careful what I say.

I have come to the conclusion that church offers me a great opportunity to practice being kind and being forgiving, but that I am on my own when it comes to finding intellectual growth, or wrestling with the really hard questions in my life. (And yes, sometimes there are really hard questions.) How can I talk with members of my ward about anything hard if they are upset by discussions about things that are actually pretty basic and not all that challenging? This saddens me, too, because there is nothing more wonderful than feeling the synergy between intelligence and faith.

Do I think Ordain Women is the right way to go? No. (As I indicated above, how can you give anyone something that can only be achieved through righteousness? I am not interested in temporary or earthly power, only the kind that lasts and will do no harm.) Do I think there is room in the LDS church for both Kate Kelly and John Dehlin (whose issues could be the basis for another essay entirely)? Yes. Absolutely yes.

Am I glad you are a faithful member and that you are voicing, very articulately, your particular viewpoint? Yes.

Thank you again.

Withheld by Request

As a devote Mormon I am troubled by the decision to call the church membership of Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women, into question with a church disciplinary hearing. In the book David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, the book recounts how Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee wanted Sterling M. McMurrin excommunicated for his unorthodox religious beliefs. However, David O. McKay intervened by telling Sterling “all I can say is, that if they put you on trial for excommunication, I will be there as the first witness on your behalf.” Sterling later reflected, “I should have been censured for being such a heretic, and here President McKay wasn’t even interested in raising a single question about my beliefs, but simply insisted that a man [or woman] in this Church had a right to believe as he pleased.” Needless to say, when the Apostles in question got word of President McKay’s position the ecclesiastical action was dropped immediately. David O. McKay’s defense of Sterling and others is very much in line with the doctrine in the Book of Mormon that claims, “Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.”

Equally disturbing is the self-righteous attitude witnessed in local priesthood meetings where the cause of OW is denigrated with much enthusiasm. Everyone seems to have forgotten the lesson to be learned when blacks were given the right to hold the Priesthood by President Spencer W. Kimball. That is, members should not be so arrogant as to suppose they know the mind and will of God, when they have never met either him or his wife in this life. Unfortunately, Church membership was not aware of the constant pleading David O. McKay had with the Lord on this subject. One day he came into Richard Jackson’s office and declared, “I’m badgered constantly about giving the priesthood to the Negro. I’ve inquired of the Lord repeatedly. The last time I did it was late last night. I was told, with no discussion, not to bring the subject up with the Lord again; that the time will come, but it will not be my time, and to leave the subject alone.”

Certainly, the church has been placed in a difficult position by controversial topics like the role of women the church, and we do not know to what extent the Prophet has petitioned the Lord on this subject. Considering the core doctrine that we fundamentally believe in the priests and priestesses and prophets and prophetesses spoken of in the Old Testament, we have to believe there is much further light and knowledge to be had on this important subject. The role of women in the Priesthood seems directly related to the role of Heavenly Mother. Recent research on this topic, like Daniel C. Peterson’s “Nephi and His Asherah” and Kevin Barney’s “How to Worship Our Mother in Heaven (Without Getting Excommunicated)” have brought to light important knowledge that should cause members of the Church to sense that these temporal (non-spiritual) revelations about our Mother in Heaven are not accidental on the Lord’s part. It is relevant, because the knowledge of Heavenly Mother was deliberately removed from the doctrine of Israel by the unmarried Jeremiah the prophet, was restored covertly in our day through Joseph Smith’s plural wife, Eliza R. Snow. These “revelations” about its ancient doctrinal roots have caused me to be shocked at the depth of our Patriarchal bias. I am now unable to think about Heavenly Father without Heavenly Mother also coming into my mind.

On my mission I had an opportunity to teach a wonderful black family soon after the revelation on blacks and the priesthood was given. However, with much sorrow in my heart, I was forbidden to teach them by my mission president, because the ward members were not ready to deal with this social change. I think we have a similar social challenge today where the members of the Church are not righteous enough to deal with a more active role of women in the Church. It is particularly distressing since in the early days of the church, women had a very active role, where they were allowed to do a great many priesthood related things such as blessing the sick, which they are unable to do in today’s church. They were also involved at the forefront of the women’s suffrage movement of their time.

Fundamentally the Mormon Church believes in the doctrine of council and discussion, but has been ineffective in allowing all members a real voice in dealing with and solving problems facing each individual ward and stake. Hence, the disturbing prevalence of passive-aggressive behavior by members of the church documented by Michael J. Stevens in his essay, “Passive-Aggression among the Latter-day Saints.” He observes that “that few people who are raised Mormon are provided with good examples of what healthy disagreement and conflict management looks like or with methods of how to foster constructive, collaborative problem-solving and negotiation.” This is the heart of the problem faced by Mormon Church members that are unwilling to turn off their brain when faced with difficult doctrinal questions and blindly accept the orthodox view. There is no real forum or place for serious discussions in the Church. In fact, this has led to the inadvertent teaching of members to be narrowed minded, since they are uncomfortable considering any thoughts not contained in the lesson manuals.

Hugh Nibley pointed out that Satan wasn’t thrown out of heaven for disagreeing with Heavenly Father and Mother, but he was thrown out for resorting to physical violence to enforce his opinion. It seems that the compassionate example of David O. McKay when dealing with those whose thoughts and ideas may not be in complete harmony with the orthodox position deserves serious consideration by the leaders of the Mormon Church. I am aware of individuals whose faith was destroyed when certain members were excommunicated for talking about the right of blacks to hold the priesthood before the new doctrine was revealed. In the end, as Hugh Nibley points out in his essay “How to get Rich,” the teachings of Deuteronomy clearly demonstrate that only our kindness to others matters most to the Lord. Every church member deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, and individual opinions should be respected. No one knows when the prophet will receive revelation on how the role of women in the church should be changed, but it seems extremely likely to happen.

Alison

I feel that this organization is leading people astray and ultimately, excommunication will stop her from being accountable to the degree she is now in the eternal scheme of things--a blessing to her. Far from it being personal--she is teaching against the fundamentals of our beliefs. Man can't serve two masters.....

Tina

Thank you for your well-written post. I, too, have disagreed with OW's tactics, but not their message or desire for full equality. I felt there was much low-hanging fruit to go after first: e.g., allowing women to be financial clerks & Sunday School presidents; leveling the financial playing field in allocating dollars to girls' camp & YW activities compared with BSA activities; requiring a parent to be present during youth interviews (which can be particularly fraught with risk when a middle-aged man is alone in a room with a teenaged girl); etc. Going for broke on ordination right out of the gate seemed like a tactical misstep to me.

Still, my heart aches when I hear or read the hateful vitriol directed toward Kate and her organization. We need to be better than that. The Church needs members who have more empathy than that. And Christ expects us all to be more compassionate than that.

John

A couple of angles and play on words I'm not really feeling here. She didn't force me to do anything. Maybe Kate brought up some interesting concepts or ideas, but that does not mean she is shoving an ideology down our throats. However, this is a total paradox a lot of the other commenters are living. You claim this is the Lord's true Church, but struggle to accept the organization and feel that she has come up with something novel that should be implemented and bypass inspiration of who we regard as prophets, seers, and revelators.

Also, shes not going to be "spiritually banished". Excommunication does not sever you from your father in heaven, the savior and the spirit. It is a disciplinary action that restricts your participation and access to ordinances, but you still are child of God.

We would do well to think "Maybe our Father in heaven has an opinion...and maybe the answer is 'no' at this time". Its saddening to think so many people are up in arms over someone having a consequence to their actions. She may have led people off the path of what the Lord's intended plan is for this people. She didn't do it maliciously, but nonetheless, after multiple requests and warnings, continues to disregard the words of prophets and apostles.

Listen to the first talk of the most recent Priesthood session. Elder Oaks made it pretty clear what the stance of our leaders was at this time and those are people we sustain as mouthpieces of God. Maybe the time will come when we ordain women, and when that revelation is given, may we all have the faith to accept it, and continue the work. Until that time, focus on basic doctrine, following Christ and accepting his will with faith.

Abe

Unfortunately there will be no coming together, not even for a moment. Threats of excommunication do no bring everyone together, they send everyone scattering. Some run in fear to orthopraxy while others, disgusted, decide to keep their distance. The funny thing is that no one knows exactly what we're running from. Because we don't know exactly how and where John or Kate crossed the line, we have to guess. We imagine a freshly drawn boundary, but that boundary will be different for everyone. When the dust settles, nothing will have changed except the amount of fear and/or resentment we harbor toward how the Church is run.

Chad

Two things-

First, since when is excommunication defined as "stop(ping) her from being accountable to the degree she is now in the eternal scheme of things"? Excommunication is not a relief of responsibility and it is certainly not a blessing. This is something that should be obvious but if anyone is unclear about whether excommunication is a blessing or not they just need to honestly ask themselves the question "Would I feel blessed to be excommunicated?".

Second, and this is a very sincere and legitimate question, how should anyone feel encouraged to continue, let alone increase, discussions about any of this in light of the threat of potential excommunication? This situation is very much the result of the leaders of the church saying the discussion is over, punctuated by the dismissal of the most prominent woman leading one side of the discussion. Why would anyone want to keep this going now?

Miriam

I agree that we need to be kind to each other & be peacemakers. I strongly disagree with Ordain Women, but I can still be kind to those who have different beliefs & opinions.

Church disciplinary council—like all acts of the priesthood—is meant to be a loving act. They are supposed to help the person understand that their actions have not been consistent with the teachings of the church, and as long as the person is willing to change & follow the teachings of the church, the Priesthood leaders help them with the steps that will lead them in that direction. If a person decides that they feel more attached to the offending belief or act & are unwilling to change, then the council may result in a separation from the church. It makes perfect sense to me. If you don't agree with what the church teaches, how can you be a member of the church?

Even if someone is disfellowshipped or excommunicated from the church, it doesn't equal "spiritual banishment". Someone who is excommunicated—like any other person who isn't a member of the church—is welcome & encouraged to attend church with us. It doesn't mean that we suddenly hate the person. They just can't teach or pray (etc.) in church meetings. Which is appropriate, since church meetings should be teaching the principles of the church.

I hope everyone is kind and Christ-like in their words and actions regarding Kate Kelly & everyone else involved.

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My Photo
Neylan McBaine grew up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in New York City and attended Yale University. She has been published in Newsweek, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah, Meridian Magazine, the Washington Post, PowerofMoms.com and BustedHalo.com.
Neylan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Mormon Women Project, a continuously expanding library of interviews with LDS women found at www.mormonwomen.com. She is also a brand strategist at Bonneville Communications, the agency behind Mormon.org and the I'm A Mormon campaign.
Neylan is the author of a collection of personal essays — How to Be a Twenty-First Century Pioneer Woman (2008) — as well as Sisters Abroad: Interviews from the Mormon Women Project (2013). She lives with her husband and three young daughters.
Click here to purchase your copy of Neylan's book, How To Be A Twenty-First Century Pioneer Woman
I'm a Mormon.