Michael Otterson and Mormon Feminists

Updated:  31 My 2014

Michael Otterson, managing director of Public Affairs for the LDS Church, sent out an open letter on the issue of Mormon feminism.  The letter was posted on both timesandseasons.org and bycommonconsent.com.  On the latter, there are currently 244 comments and counting.

I have two concerns about the letter.  First, there is the statement:  “I suppose we do not know all the reasons why Christ did not ordain women as apostles.”  In point of fact, we know little about how the ancient Church was organized.  For example, we aren’t positive that Christ didn’t ordain women as apostles and/or disciples.  Most of the organizational structure was developed after His crucifixion.  And it evolved during a very male-oriented Roman Empire society.  Julie M. Smith (in T&S) notes:

It is not clear whether Jesus’ (apparent) lack of female ordinations represent an eternal principle or cultural expedience or temporary policy.  I think it is excessively speculative to conclude that Jesus’ non-ordination represents an eternal principle.

So using biblical history in defense of a male-only priesthood is probably not the best idea.  It’s a little like using Christ as an example to justify celibacy.

Additionally, and more importantly, we need to understand that we live in a fluid time.  And the LDS Church, whether we want to admit it or not, is evolving along with everything else.  According to President Uchtdorf:

Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us . . .  In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now.  It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.

Now would be great time for a serious reconsideration of the role of women in the LDS Church, and I’m not talking about the recent tokenism.

Second, according to Otterson:

As managing director of the Public Affairs Department, I work under the supervision of two members of the Twelve apostles, two members of the Presidency of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishop.

So Otterson is telling Mormon feminists and others that his PR supervisors are all male.  Really?  And the LDS Church couldn’t have women in this oversight group?  If it did, it might not be in its current bind.  The overwhelming male dominance in the LDS Church organization/leadership needs to end, with or without women getting the priesthood (preferably with).

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This entry was posted in bible, catholicism, feminism, mormonism, Religion, Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Michael Otterson and Mormon Feminists

  1. Pingback: Sunday in Outer Blogness: Responding to women edition! » Main Street Plaza

  2. Susan says:

    I have the best job in the church. I play the piano for 2 hours each Sunday, both junior and senior primaries. I love this job. I sit behind the piano on a hard bench and play songs that children sing. Sometimes fun, sometimes serious, but always interesting. But it’s the “sharing time” episodes that sometimes get me. For instance, yesterday’s sharing time was on the priesthood (each month is a different theme and June is the priesthood). A song is chosen which reflects the theme and the children learn a new song each month. In the fall, the children perform a primary program and sing all the songs learned throughout the year. Anyway, I digress. So the primary counselor who taught yesterday’s Sunday sharing time discussed the ages of the priesthood (like what age do you have to be to be a deacon), etc. Junior primary pretty much went as planned. How much is a 4 year old concentrating on priesthood age trivia?

    Then the senior primary was taught the same lesson. The counselor started her presentation with, “I’m just going to put it out there, since lately it’s been in the news. Women do not hold the priesthood. Never have, never will. And that’s the way we want it”. She then went on with her lesson and the trivia game (like, at what age do Elders get to go on a mission?). At the end of her presentation and before we started singing, a young girl about 9 years old raised her hand and said, “how come girls can’t hold the priesthood?” The counselor abruptly said, “because you get to be a Mother and that’s all that you need to do. Men can’t be Mothers, but women can. You don’t need the priesthood and you don’t need to question it”. And that was it. No further discussion.

    It reiterates what I said to begin my long-winded reply to your blog, Roger. I enjoy the singing. The words, not so much.

  3. Susan says:

    As I have watched the events of the past few months, one thing remains certain: women in the LDS church appear to be the biggest part of the problem. Women are raised to believe that the preisthood is a sacred obligation and right of worthy “male” members of the church. To make any attempt to change that thought is blasphemy in the eyes of a large majority of LDS women.

    I somehow need to make myself clear on this. I think that men and women are vastly different. Thank God for that! I am not attempting to categorize men and women, think processes, etc., into one place. But why wouldn’t the LDS church welcome a chance for change, a chance for progression, a chance to add so many wonderful talents and minds to their priesthood fold? What are we so afraid of? Why is progression and moving forward so frightening? When will intolerance and injustice be enough, whether it be sexism, attitudes towards our LGBT brothers and sisters, or other legitimate questions that are being raised?

    I have commented on your blog before, Roger, and I truly feel the next generation is already showing signs of unrest and indifference toward the problem. How is the church going to change and bring ALL members, young and old, black and white, straight or gay, male or female, into it’s organization? How much more exclusion will happen before they get it?

    I suspect if I had access to the financial demographics of the church that I would find that a good majority of tithe payers in the church are over the age of 60, white, republican, and male. Not all, just generally speaking. How will the church function as it currently does without future tithe payers who leave the church because of the intolerance that they project? And when will LDS women be strong and willing to step forward without fear?

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