Women, Church, and Church leaders


I was thinking last night about the Ordain Women website (again). So much of what I’m thinking about comes back to that. I think it’s because there is something so right in wanting to share your abilities to build the kingdom, in overcoming stereotypes, and so on. But then, several of the moves that organization makes don’t sit well with me. The first is that they proclaim what equality must mean, and then ask the priesthood leaders to pray for that. I think it’s a misunderstanding of prayer, before it’s even a misunderstanding of priesthood. I’m thinking of how many times in my own life I’ve felt like something was proper, good, or important, and I prayed for it, and it didn’t come. That’s part of our interaction with God, with or without priesthood authority.

Another thing that I got hung up on was that it seemed to me that their primary concern was that men make the most important decisions, and so in order to make that equal, women needed the priesthood in order to allow them to also be in those meetings to make those decisions. It seemed to me that priesthood ordination was a necessary step on the way to leadership, but it was equality in leadership that was their primary concern.

I get it. I get that those more inclined to trust whatever the Brethren say see their move as asking them to change doctrine, but I also get that those more inclined to worry about how the weaknesses of humans leading the Church have obscured truth see their move as trying to clean things up a bit. And I get that they are worried about that. Again, I worry about their relationship to prayer in how they are requesting things, but I get the move to ask: Where have we gone wrong because we are mortals leading God’s Church? I think is a faithful and good question to ask.

But, there are other answers, like Moroni’s conversation with God in Ether 12. Moroni is recognizing how his weakness will mess up the Book of Mormon and he is recognizing that the weakness of the Gentiles will mess up their reception of the Book of Mormon. (And if those two things happen, will the remnant of the Nephites and Lamanites ever get the Book of Mormon??) I see his worry. And yet, God isn’t worried. Somehow God works with us in our weakness, and I think even uses our weakness on purpose. That seems to be the message of Ether 12 to me. Also Paul says the weaker we are, the more we recognize God’s power and the more we can let it show through. There’s something to that too.

Anyway, besides all that too, I suddenly remembered this morning about an interview done with the presidencies of the female auxillaries about a year ago. In it they recounted some of the experiences they have had sitting in leadership meetings. They are in leadership meetings, working in the councils that make those many, many decisions that affect the Church. They’re there. True, they are not the presiding figure in those meetings, though they are in their own organizations. I think it’s worth appreciating their role in those top meetings that’s already in place. I do recognize the structural, built-in limitation that a woman will not be the presiding high priest over the Church. And I don’t know how to answer that one except: I think God can use this Church for His purposes anyway. That’s the best answer I can give to that one. :)

Here is a link to the interview. I know that those frustrated with the Church institution on this issue will find plenty of things in here that will bother them. But, starting with the question: “Do women have any influence in the top decisions of the Church?” there will be good and helpful answers.

Here is one example of what I’m talking about. I’ll comment on it below:

Ruth Todd: How do you utilize the priesthood as you are leading and guiding your individual organization?

Sister Wixom: I remember two weeks after I was called as the general Primary president, Elder Hales called me to his office and he, we had a conversation and then he said, “Sister Wixom, I want to ask you a question. What is the taproot that will anchor a child in the wind?” And I leaned back in my chair and I went to think about it, and then he said, “No, no, no. Sister Wixom, you’re going to think about this. And what’s more is that you will get the answer to that question. I won’t, because you are the Primary president.” I left his office that day feeling the mantle of my calling. The calling came from our prophet, and he was allowing me to carry that mantle, and I would be the one — with the help of my counselors and the board and, above all, inspiration from our Heavenly Father — to come to the conclusion to the answer of that question.

Now, remember the question: How do you utilize the priesthood? The answer might seem to be, “The priesthood tells me what to do.” But rather, think of what Elder Oaks explained in conference: the priesthood authorities authorize the use of priesthood in various settings. Sister Wixom had been authorized to lead that organization, so therefore, she was authorized to seek revelation for it straight from God. The “priesthood leaders” were telling her that she didn’t need them; she was authorized (by them, sure) to go forward without them. The priesthood was there to make itself obsolete, as it were. And here was an example of that a year before Elder Oaks clarified that point.

Anyway, a few thoughts on this topic this morning.


Reasoning God’s will, Reasoning to God’s will (post is a work-in-process still)


Working with God is draining sometimes.

When Emma, my first, was born, I had so much to be grateful for. Labor had been fast, my husband was there the whole time and we were enjoying our healthy little girl together.

The first couple of nights home took adjusting of course, and I was tired and a bit overwhelmed.

I figured that feeling would pass, but as the weeks went on, I couldn’t figure out how to get this little girl to sleep! She would wake up every time I put her down. She slept on walks during the day, but had the hardest time sleeping anywhere but my lap at night! I was so tired. Every time she woke up I would nurse her again, try to put her down, she’d wake up, and so on. If I nursed her during the day and put her down, she went right down! She was still a newborn with barely any waking hours, so this wasn’t a fixable by keeping her up all day.

I remember praying she would sleep, that she would stay down this time. And she didn’t. I remember praying and telling God, “Okay, I don’t know what I did wrong or maybe my feelings haven’t been right or something, but really, I want to be a good mom! I need sleep to do that!” But still, very little sleep at night.

This went on for several weeks, until I realized she would go down in her carseat! Sleep returned! Not entirely, but much much more! Then she became colicy. Holding her for hours while she cried I wondered why she hated being here and hoped she would find joy sometime in being here on earth! Eventually some things changed and her colic disappeared. But for those hours and weeks I didn’t know what to do, what to pray for, or if I was doing something wrong.

Through that frustrating experience, I realized I didn’t know how to pray like I thought I did. I thought my job was to want something good, and then explain to God what it was and why I wanted it, and then have faith. Is’t that what the scriptures say? Ask and ye shall receive? Ask in faith, nothing doubting?

Of course anyone with ongoing health concerns knows that’s not always the case, but I had never been there before. I had never really felt like a prayer that mattered to me had gone unanswered. Of course I hadn’t always received the grade I wanted or it rained on a day I had some big event planned. Those things, of course. But being a new mom had made everything seem so important, and that mixed with extreme tiredness made my prayers feel more serious than ever. And I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t being answered in the way I thought they would be.

Looking back I think, So, she didn’t sleep well. Oh well. True, I could have been a better mom, I think, if I’d had more sleep. But we were safe and loved and happy. And my prayers were answered in a different way than I thought, and later than I wanted.

I couldn’t reason my way to God’s will.

I’ve also learned something of the good and bad of reasoning from God’s will.

We all do this. Something happens in our life and we try to figure out why it happened. Good or bad, we like to see reasons for what happened. Oh, God wanted me to learn such-in-such, we say. Or, look at all these good things that happened, that must be why I had that experience. Or, maybe I’m just not good enough, or faithful enough. That must be why that happened.

In reality though, we almost never know what God’s up to. We can guess, and our mortal minds like a good puzzle, but we really just don’t know. In fact, many times I’ve made up a good story about why something happened, only to have a new event come along and change the whole story. Sometimes these stories we make up become something we cling to, and when they are shattered it shatters our faith.

It’s hard, but we can’t mistake our reasonings about God’s will for God himself. That is, we have to have faith in our experience with God directly, through the Spirit, and not place our faith in our own reasonings about those experiences with God.

At some point, I had the assignment to give a talk on Ether 12:27. God says, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble.”

We focus on the last part of the verse much more often than this part, so think carefully about that this says. First, God gives us weakness. We come defective. We don’t like thinking that way about ourselves, but it’s true. God made us weak. But then, that weakness is not our fault. We all struggle, we are all weak.

Second, why did he do that?? Well, here, for once, we know God’s reasons. He does this so that we will be humble. Not to see if we’ll overcome or fix those weak parts of us. Not even to test us to see if we have faith enough to fix those defects. He wants only and simply for us to be humble. We mortals are so confident and interested in perfection that we might actually think we were strong enough to do it without him, so he placed in us defects and weakness on purpose so that we would remember him. He sabotaged our lives, as it were. :)

Jacob says that God showed them their weakness, so that the Nephites would remember that their power to move mountains and perform miracles was really God’s power all along.

Paul says that when we are weak, it allows God’s power to be seen through us. If we were stronger, we’d see God much much less often.

Moroni learns that when we recognize our weakness and go to God about it, he makes weak things become strong. That sounds like our weakness goes away, but read all of Ether 12. Moroni’s weakness (writing) doesn’t go away. But God uses his weakness for something strong.

Nephi says the same thing about that book. The weak writing of the Book of Mormon becomes strong through readers’ faith. The Book of Mormon comes sabotaged too – we need God to make it strong.

So it appears to me that everything that happens to me – good or bad – is meant to show me that God is real. Just that, really. Yes I learn other things (how to be kind, how to work hard, etc.) but the fundamental purpose seems to be showing mortals that God is there and in charge of it all. When we are blessed, we remember God’s mercy. When we have trials, we remember God’s strength. Either way, we are acknowledging God’s work and God’s hand.

So rather than trying to reason about God’s will, first I think he wants us to just recognize we need him.

A great example of this is Jacob, Lehi’s son.

Lehi tells Jacob, his first-born in the wilderness with so many afflictions, that all his sufferings will be “consecrated for his gain” because he has faith. His afflictions weren’t erased, and his brothers continued to vex him and even continued to try to kill the Nephites, but because Jacob has a “knowledge of the goodness of God,” somehow all of that would be consecrated, or made sacred.

It reminds me also of D&C 42, where it says if someone is blessed to recover from an illness they will live unto God, and if they die, they die unto God. A blessing didn’t change God’s will, but rather, it consecrated (or made sacred) either path. It was still up to God, but now God’s hand could be seen in it.

Sometimes God has a grand plan (think Nephites, Gentiles, Jews, etc.), but other times, I think the grand plan comes after the event. The question is: how can this be used for good?

How else can we make sense of repentance? Did God plan on us sinning?

No, but bad things can be turned for good.

Did God want that horrible thing to happen to me?

No, but bad things can be turned for good.

Why did God let that person do that to me? Did he want that to happen to me? Did I deserve it?

No, but bad things can be turned for good.

I love this view of the world, because no matter what Satan does, or what the world does, or even what I do, God’s work still rolls on. He can take whatever happens and turn it for good. Or, he can take any earthly temporal thing and consecrate it. That’s what the priesthood does, right? Takes mere mortal things and turns them into something heavenly? And so I think that’s my picture of God, where my reasonings (as it were) go – a God who is so powerful that no matter what happens, he always turns it into something good.

I like that. It gives me great comfort.

And so I feel like we get ourselves too worked up sometimes trying to reason out a good plan first, and then wondering when it doesn’t happen, why God isn’t hearing us or wondering what mortal thing (my weakness, lack of faith, or another person) is getting in the way. And we also get tangled up trying to reason out what plan was laid behind everything that happens to us. But perhaps God is planning now, and wants to make everything sacred and for good now.

Or, rather, he may have plans, but we can’t count on ever knowing them. What we do know is that regardless of past plans or current troubles or unanswered hopes and dreams, God can consecrate anything and from here, an infinite number of good things is possible.


New Sunday School means, no Scripture classes?


We saw on lds.org that the adults will soon be getting curriculum similar to that of the youth.
I have served in Young Women’s before, during, and after the change and it has been a definite blessing to our youth. The Young Women lessons are consistently better than they were before the change. I think our youth are learning the doctrine much better and their opportunities to teach and talk are helping them think more carefully.
All of that has been a great blessing.
If this is applied to adults, there is only one concern I have. Will we lose the focus on scripture? This one concern is also the only concern I’ve had with the youth curriculum: their Sunday School time is no longer focused on working through scripture together, and I think that has been a great loss for them. I am disappointed that that might also be coming for the adults.
The principles of more participation, more prayer in determining what to teach, of more preparation of the students are all great principles, but is there a way to keep those without losing the focus on the standard works?
Having one hour for scripture and one hour for themed lessons (often focused on the talks of general conference) seems a healthy balance. It can show that scripture and modern revelation are both applicable and support each other. Right now, I worry that some of our youth see Sunday School and their YW lesson as redundant.
I am very curious to see what this new curriculum will look like!

 


New Adult Curriculum?


Okay, so, I’ve enjoyed the improvement in the YW program. A lot. It’s been great. No question that the average YW class is miles beyond where it was two years ago.

But, there are a few things about the way we talk about it that irk me. A lot. And as I see this new program “roll out” for the adults, I have many concerns.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865600384/LDS-adults-to-get-new-course-outlines-for-Sunday-classes-new-Sunday-School-president-says.html?pg=all

I’m going to be criticizing the article specifically.

The youth curriculum eradicated lecture-style teaching

Eradicated? Whoa. I don’t know that it is eradicated. And should it be? The older lesson manuals weren’t bad because there were times of lecturing, but because we were presuming that the manuals were scripture. Put a suggested lesson in place of scripture and then lecture that, and you’ve got a problem.

I still lecture. Sometimes. Sometimes not. But we’re so quick to decide that was the problem — not the fact that we need to learn better how to listen to the Spirit.

“The principles are so representative of the way the Savior teaches,” said Brother Tad R. Callister

Ouch – really. Why do we need to look at the stories of Christ and try to imitate what we think He looked like when He taught, instead of going to the Doctrine and Covenants, which actually do tell us how God wants us to teach?

D&C 42? D&C 46? D&C 50 and 52? All of these describe teaching “in the Lord’s way” and none of them talk about whether to lecture or lead discussions. That, my friends, ought to be the “how” that the Spirit directs while you prepare, or in the moment.

So I think this curriculum has made an improvement, but not because of lecture vs. not lecture. I think its improvements come from:

1) Our material is no longer a suggested lesson development, but words of scripture, leaders, & prophets. Those were options before but too many treated manuals as words of scripture, leaders, & prophets. The loyalty shown to the manuals is now being placed in the right places. :) And I think the Spirit is much more likely to come when we start with the scriptures and prophets as our main texts than with object lessons, poems, etc. (or so D&C 42:12 seemed to say way back then!).

2) Too many didn’t know how to lead discussions, so telling them to “not lecture!” has been a great move because it has opened them up to another way of teaching. Besides, lecturing when you aren’t really preparing by the Spirit can be death! Discussions and questions are much more likely to bring the Spirit, because we come to those moments open and ready to learn. I this new development has definitely opened teachers and students to the Spirit. The Spirit can still be a part of lectures, though. I think it is the attitude not the method that has made this way of teaching effective. (See D&C 42:13, too.)

3) Student involvement. I do think this aspect of the new curriculum can’t be overrated. It’s been a great idea to put some responsibility on the youth, and to help them know where to find answers to their questions. Fantastic.

So I want to reemphasize that I do think this has been a great move. But not because manuals, lectures, etc. are in themselves bad. And I don’t think that we’ve magically all of a sudden found out the way that Christ taught so we can imitate it. I still am bothered that we don’t go to the D&C to see how to teach. All those are problems, I think. But all the same, there’s improvement, so I’m not bothered by the program itself. Also, it has certainly opened up a place where those who want to teach by the Spirit can without anyone telling them they should be following a manual’s suggested lesson outline instead. :)

Just another point or two from the article:

“Youth curriculum was the first step,” Elder Pieper said. “What we have to do is take youth curriculum to adult curriculum. We have to get all of this connected to teaching and learning in the home so that what happens on Sunday supports what happens during the week, and really this is a man raised up by the Lord” to guide that.

Okay, whoa. First of all, perhaps he was “raised up” for this, but I think we’re getting way too excited about curriculum. It was already going on, and now we’re pushing it on to the next step, as he says. Why did someone need to be raised up specifically for that? Especially when it was already going on? I get the idea that we are excited about the Church and any new program, but this seems a little too much. And I’m afraid that whenever we get over-excited and over-blow things, then opponents of the Church have something to criticize all-too fairly. Anyway, I just think we ought to be much more careful.

Church leaders hope the new programs for church classroom settings improve teaching in members’ homes, both when families gather for weekly home evenings, a church program for gospel teaching and family time, and for spontaneous teaching moments and discussions.

Well, I hope it does too. What I hope doesn’t happen is that we think that the monthly themes have to be what we teach in the home, and also (more especially) if we teach that, then we know we’re teaching by the Spirit and all will be well! I am afraid that all the over-exuberance about this “new” and exciting way of teaching is making us as a people all the more reliant on the Church instead of really making us more independent. It’s great when we talk about Church things at home. That should have been going on already, right? If a new curriculum is going to make it happen, then what was wrong with us before? I don’t know what I’m really getting at just yet, but I think there’s something to wonder about in this move.

They also believe that improved learning and teaching and participation will make members better missionaries.

Very, very true, I think. I think this is an awesome point.

Brother Callister is the popular LDS author of “The Infinite Atonement.” First published 14 years ago, both that title and an illustrated version are on Deseret Book’s best-seller list.

Brother Tad Richards Callister earned an accounting degree at BYU in 1968, a law degree at UCLA in 1971 and a master’s degree in tax law at New York University in 1972. He worked as a tax attorney in a family firm in Southern California until he served as president of the Canada Toronto East Mission from 2005 to 2008.

His family tree includes…

I like how they mention his book, in a way that almost sounds like it’s explaining why he’s good pick for a curriculum changer – he’s written a book popular with LDS readers. But then we hear his schooling, which doesn’t have anything to do with writing or religion. :) I just think it’s funny – why mention it? :) And then we have to include his “important family tree.” :) Doesn’t this communicate that we can’t really be leaders without a proper family tree? :) I assume really they just think people are interested in personal details of someone’s life, and they’re right, people are. :) The way it was ordered just struck me as odd and made me smile.

So anyway, there are my rambling thoughts on the new move, as presented in this article.

I have other thoughts on changing Sunday School from a week-by-week working through of Scripture, to a theme-based discussion. Those are in the next post.


Changes to the Relief Society?


This morning I woke up thinking about the changes being made in Sunday School, and how because of the “themed” approach for both YW/YM and youth Sunday school, there is no longer a time dedicated to working book-by-book through the scriptures. If the adults follow that pattern, then they will lose that time too. Then both the second and third hours become conversation about themes, usually taken from recent conference talks. That’s been a great – fantastic – move for the YW lessons in the wards I’ve seen or heard about, but I’m still weary of the change for youth Sunday School. Having one hour primarily focused on scripture, and one hour primarily focused on topics/conference talks, seems like it was/would have been a great balance. And it would have communicated a lot of good to our youth, I think, to see how both the old and the new are important to their understanding of the gospel.

So if the adults follow suit and no longer have an hour focused primarily on the standard works, then what becomes of our three hour block? Sacrament Meeting, then two hours of themed conference talk discussion? That isn’t bad, of course, but it will probably come to feel redundant. Are we, or could we, be moving towards a 2-hour block?

In some ways that would be sad, but in other ways, quite productive and helpful. It would of course be helpful to moms and dads with little kids, who have a hard time making it through three hours of Church. :) Nursing a newborn sometimes means having to leave classes twice during those three hours. So, a two hour block would be helpful for some families.

But, beyond that, I wonder if we might take advantage of a two hour block to accomplish or initiate some grand and good things.

For example, right now, the RS and Priesthood meetings aren’t really meetings of organizations, but a class that that particular age/gender attends. There is great good in being in groups like that and the sort of discussion that comes out of being together. But, there are a great many sisters and brothers who can’t attend those classes because of other callings. I haven’t been able to attend Relief Society regularly for years, and yet I love that organization and I miss the fellowship with women of all ages and experience and I miss feeling a part of an organization that was set up by Joseph Smith as a fundamental part of the Restoration. I am missing that. And I am missing it at the very times in my life when I would be blessed by older women with more experience being mothers, when I could use help with newborns, when I need something besides my everyday service in the home — which can make me focus on my own needs way too much — to give me perspective of the great work we are doing as women of Zion. I need and want to be a part of Relief Society, but I feel the great opportunity of being with the YW and I don’t want to lose that either.

There are RS activities, sure, but they also don’t have the feel of being a part of something fundamental. They are times to sit by a friend and eat, or get to know a new friend, and those are very good social opportunities. Sometimes that is mixed with messages about the great things we can do, but I don’t come away feeling like we have or will be doing anything great and important. So it is uplifting, but not really empowering in the way I think Relief Society could or should be.

So, here is my wild idea I am playing with.

What if we switch to a 2 hour block, and Relief Society meetings were held once a month on a Sunday evening. They were actually more like a meeting, with reporting in, counseling, planning, etc. They were an hour and a half long – 6:30 to 8:00, or 6:00 to 7:30. YW can babysit if needed. The meeting would be a place where we could report about the many acts of “relief” that are going on in the ward and in the community. Various women could be called to head up these acts of relief. A group dedicated to such-and-such need would have a leader, and they would report both on things accomplished, but on current needs within that area. For example, if the ward RS felt that there was a need in the community for volunteering at the local library, so that more children could come and feel welcome there (by lifting the burden of the paid staff, or by having more smiling faces, or by making it safer, or whatever), then that group could report on how their efforts are or are not helping their library. They could invite other sisters with the time and interest to join them at certain times. For another example, the ward RS might feel that there is a need to lift the burdens of mothers with very young children. The RS sisters counsel together as to what could be done. A decision is made that some of the women without children will visit their homes, but not on a regular schedule. It will be an act of service and surprise, usually contacting a mother on a Sunday to ask which day would be most helpful. One or more women could come together to supervise the children while the mother gets work done or rests. The lack of routine would keep the young mothers or the older women from the feelings of dependency, and allow the feelings of kindness and relief to be enjoyed more. For another example, the ward RS might feel that there needs to be a place to talk and get to know each other better. A sister is chosen to create a craft night once a month or more frequently that will provide a place for conversation. It is discussed whether or not this is a service craft or one they can take home. It is discussed whether the ward budget will pay or individuals pay. The matter is counseled on, then left to the RS presidency to further discuss and pray about at a later time that week. All of these groups report during each of the RS meetings.

The goal would be to focus on this: “Relief of poverty, relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance—relief of all that hinders the joy and progress of woman.” A focus ought to be made on “joy,” and many discussions should be had on what “joy” really is. What hinders joy? Not just lack of material things or lack of time. What usually hinders joy is lack of spiritual understanding. That, I know, ought to be what we Visiting Teachers bring into the homes of each sister, and perhaps that could be emphasized there. But look at his list: Poverty. Illness. Doubt. Ignorance. Those are important categories and each ought to be considered, along with whatever other categories are in the “all” that hinders the joy and the progress of woman. Let’s get going! :)

I like the idea of an actual meeting, where we coordinate our efforts of a ward RS group. I really, really do. I like thinking of a place separate from the Church meetings, which is where we want to and ought to be involved in callings with the youth or children, or even with the men in joint Sunday School meetings. We want to and ought to be involved with those. We ought to be teaching the other gender, and they us. We ought to be working with youth and children, and learning from those experiences. It’s also a time where we learn of needs and we can take that information back to our Relief Society meetings. In short, I think Relief Society ought to be a society where we work on relief! :)

Would there be lessons taught at these RS meetings? Yes, I would hope so. With a once-a-month set up, I would assume that through prayer the Spirit would be sought to determine what would best provide relief that month. Would understanding this principle bring comfort? Would teaching humility and relying on God turn hearts so that God can provide relief? A lesson chosen carefully from the past manuals, scripture, and so on would be I think an important part of that meeting. And a lesson done this way, after considerable discussion about the work we are and can be doing, would I hope empower us to go forward and do more great things.

This vision of an RS meeting sounds like it would have the sort of feel that the early meetings did, or at least how they sound to me. And that’s really, really exciting. I think we have lost the power of those early meetings by turning RS into primarily a class for women.

I think both the RS and the Priesthood have lost much power, or at least the power that could come from meeting together as those groups. That particular power has diminished, I think. I feel it, anyway. I also think they lose power when so many of their strong members are called to work in other organizations. That leaves the elders quorum quite small and without many of its stronger members there to uplift the others. It also leaves the RS with few younger moms, so that when new YW come in there are fewer women close to their age. It also leaves the young moms called to YW without the examples and support they need from experienced moms (I am speaking from personal experience here).

So, it’s all just an idea, but if we lose Sunday School scripture time to themed lesson time, why not change a little more and make this an opportunity for RS to really come out of obscurity a bit and get to work? A monthly time when we organize all the work that goes on throughout the month. If women want more time to study together, then let that be organized accordingly. Let’s set up groups to study conference talks, or the Daughters in my Kingdom history, or the scriptures. That provides relief in many ways — studying is not a separate work from the Relief Society. All that goes on now could go on then, but with even more frequency and availability. Potentially, at least, or less perhaps, depending on how that RS counsels together. Or so it seems. Elder Oaks reaffirmed what Joseph Smith said from the beginning – those with Priesthood keys have turned a key to the RS which unlocks to door to revelation for their own organization. Let’s take that seriously! I think gathering with as many people as possible — not just with those not called to other organizations — would allow RS to be a place of revelation as a group, which it isn’t currently. The RS Presidency could come with questions they want the group counsel about. They can finish some decisions later. They oversee a grand and great work among many sisters of the ward! In a meeting setting, I think they could more fully oversee what Sis Beck called “the organizer of the combined gifts of women.”

I really like it. And if we’re going to lose Sunday School as it is, why not get something amazing going as a result!

And I think this should apply to the Priesthood as well. Aren’t they supposed to counsel together too, to see what needs to be done within their sphere of influence? What about so many men who can’t attend Sunday classes, but should be attending quorum meetings according to the D&C? Haven’t we also stripped away some of the power of the priesthood by making our Sunday meetings primarily a class for a specific age/gender? What more could be done with the Priesthood by having a monthly meeting? Does the D&C call for more frequent meetings? I should check. If once a month was quorum meetings and once a month was RS meetings, couldn’t that work? That’s not too much time away from families, right? And families need to realize they are a part of this work — if one is really impinging on the other, I think we’ve lost sight of what we’re all doing … right?

The only downside could be that YM are in quorums, so they would be a part of the quorum meetings, but YW are not, and so wouldn’t have Sunday evening monthly meeting. What do we think about that? Should they also have meetings? A women’s night and a men’s night? Do we have a youth night? I don’t think so. I don’t think we would want to stagger things so that there were meetings every Sunday night. I think twice is plenty.  Hmmm, but what about mutual nights? Or Sunday classes, since on my “wild idea” the youth and primary still meet while the rest of the adults have Sunday School? There you go — right there, that’s when the youth should be having time to counsel, plan, and teach. And they already have mutual nights to do counseling, planning, teaching, and fellowshipping too. Bingo. It’s already there!

Monthly Sunday meetings for adult Priesthood. For Melchizedek priesthood, that would be a more proper way to say it. And monthly meetings for the Relief Society, the organizer of women working under the authorization of Priesthood keys. I love it.

 


Priesthood session!


Elder Oaks! Elder Oaks! I was so grateful for Elder Oaks’ talk. It covered some of the very things I’ve been writing about and asking about. I kept thinking, “I knew it!” :) I can’t wait to think more about it!


Eve, Adam, and the Priesthood


Moses 5:4 says: “Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord.”

Moses 6:4, 7 says: “And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord … Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.”

I think there is a lot going on here in these three simple verses. What Adam and Eve do (call on the name of the Lord together), is later referred to as “Priesthood” when a group of men do it.

What do we make of that?

Here are some ideas:

1) Here, way back in the book of  Moses, in taking about the first man and woman, I think I see the same situation I’ve wondered about recently: women can do Priesthood-like things without an ordination to the Priesthood (i.e., temple endowment, missions, leadership callings)

2) What Adam and Eve do comes first, and Priesthood comes second.

3) The Priesthood seems to be a matter of generations, while Eve-Adam version isn’t?

4) From #3, could we say that the Priesthood is vertical (multi-generational) while the Eve-Adam version is horizontal (immediate, temporal, lateral)?

5) D&C 128 links Priesthood unmistakably to uniting generations.

6) Why today do we have a presidency consisting of 3 men of any generation or family, whereas with Adam, he needed 3 generations? What could we learn about the priesthood from that?

7) Did that change with Abraham? Are we all considered Abraham’s seed, and so any three men will do?

8) Did Abraham’s covenant change anything for women? Do we still operation with the Eve-Adam version?

9) What about women not married? Eve of course was, so I don’t see what we can learn directly there. However, it’s incredibly important to remember that women, married or not, can receive temple endowments, serve missions, and serve in leadership without Priesthood ordination. (Note that when we had a “Priesthood ban” for black member, they could not receive endowments or sealings. The situation for women is actually quite different.)

10) What other things should I note from these 3 verses?


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