Portraits of Women & the Pain of Excommunication (Doctrine & Covenants 81-84)

Monday, July 19, 2021


Thank you Mary for creating this transcript!

Channing: Hi! I’m Channing.

Elise: And I’m Elise.

Channing: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast.

Elise: But this is not just any Come Follow Me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the Come Follow Me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood.  We are here to show you all the really good ways faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience. 

Channing: We saved you a seat on the soft chairs, so join us today for a conversation about Doctrine and Covenants sections 81 through 83 and section 84 for the dates, July 19th through August 1st. We're so glad you're here.

Elise: [01:01] Welcome back everyone! We are super glad you're here, not just because we love being with you and sharing with you, but because we have a super episode. And when, I mean, super, I mean like super two-in-one-shampoo episode, that's what we've been calling this episode because we're combining two weeks into one episode.

[01:20] So we've got sections 81 through 83, and then we're also doing next week's episode in this episode, and that consists of section 84. Channing and I are going to be out of town together and so we wanted to just record this two-in-one episode. And so if you want to, you can split it up and listen to it on two separate weeks, or you can just be ahead of the game and listen to it all this week.

Channing: [01:46] So to start out this week, we are in section 81. And in the chapter heading of 81, we get to know a new character and his name is Jesse “Goss”, we think. G A U S E sometimes I think it might be “Gas”. I have no idea. Jesse Gause. He has such a fascinating story and I'm excited to share it with you because it actually leads into the next part of our conversation where we're going to cover a little bit about excommunication, but before we get there, Jesse Gause, his story is so fascinating. So, for most of his life, he lived with the Quaker community. He married a woman, they had children together, but then unfortunately during childbirth, his first wife died. And when this happened, Jesse moved to be closer to his extended family, which actually ended up being in the Shaker community at North Union. And if that rings a bell for you, you are not crazy. Because North Union is the place where Parley P. Pratt and Leman Copley, and all of the drama about shaking the dust from your coattails and riding in on high horses, that's where that all happens. So if North Union rings a bell, it's because it's been recent history for us.

[03:19] And while Jesse was in North Union, he married his second wife, her name is Minerva, and they had a son together. And again, while they were in North Union a short time after all of that drama went down, he actually converted to the LDS faith. So in just the few months that Jesse became a member, Joseph Smith actually called him to be a counselor and a very close counselor at that, especially as the church was navigating and trying to find its way into living the law of consecration. And a lot of this information and a lot of the following information that I'm going to share actually comes from an essay titled Jesse Gause, Joseph Smith's Little Known Counselor by D. Michael Quinn. And this article was published in Brigham Young University Studies—and because we're nerds— volume 23, number 4, 1983.

[04:22] And I'm going to share a little bit of what D. Michael Quinn wrote, just because I feel like he showcases what happens during Jesse Gause's time as a counselor and his eventual process of leaving the church. He writes: 

“An obvious question about Gause's appointment is why Joseph Smith chose as a counselor a man who had been a member of the Church only a few months, maybe even weeks, when the Prophet could have advanced to that position to other men who had been associated with the Church from its beginning. The answer seems to lie in the revelation concerning the United Order that Joseph Smith also received in March 1832…  Jesse Gause had three years’ experience with the communitarian Shaker families in Massachusetts and Ohio, and another twenty-three years’ experience with the close-knit Quakers. To Joseph Smith, he must have appeared ideally suited as a counselor to assist in the organization and direction of the Mormon efforts in living the ideals of the revelatory law of consecration and stewardship… The presence of Gause and Sidney Rigdon in the meetings in Missouri for [the purpose of establishing the United Firm] was significant, because both had previously been members of religious groups that practiced economic communitarianism.” 

And before I go any further, after Jesse Gause had been a member of the church for maybe only a couple of months in the summer of 1832, he actually ended up leaving the church and was later ex-communicated. Of the circumstance D. Michael Quinn writes:

“His desertion of the Mormon church may have centered in his personal family circumstances. During his missionary journey [in August 1832], Jesse visited his second wife, Minerva, at North Union and tried to persuade her to leave the celibate Shakers and join his conversion to the restored gospel. His wife refused to listen to him and even offered to give him their child rather than go with him herself.

“In view of what is known about Jesse Gause's troubled family relations in the summer of 1832, his disaffection for Mormonism may have resulted from his learning about polygamous theory and practice that were emerging at that time. The 1830 Book of Mormon provided for the theoretical possibility that God could suspend the prohibition against polygamy, and this… could also be construed from… an unpublished revelation dictated by Joseph Smith in 1831.”

Which was exposed in an Ohio newspaper “less than two months after Gause arrived.” This was confirmed by a statement from Orson Pratt, who said, 

“‘in the year 1832, Joseph Smith told individuals, then in the Church, that he had inquired of the Lord concerning the principle of plurality of wives, and he received for answer that the principle of taking more wives than one is a true principle, but the time had not come yet for it to be practised. That was before the church was two years old.’ William Mcclellin also claimed that by the time of the birth of Joseph Smith's son on November 6th, 1832, the prophet had begun polygamous cohabitation. In view of Gause's prior conversion to the celibacy of the Shakers and his current problems with his wife who refused to abandon her shaker conversion, it is easy to imagine the kind of emotional and spiritual devastation Jesse Gause would have experienced in the fall of 1832 had he learned of these first stirrings of polygamy.”

[08:07] I'm really grateful for this article by D. Michael Quinn, because I feel like it fills in a lot of the blanks that we get from what the church's currently publishing about Jesse Gause's experience in Mormonism. In truth, we don't actually really know why Jesse Gause was excommunicated. There are no records, no diaries kept. We honestly don't know what happened to him after he left the church until he died four years later. So I'm really grateful to have this perspective and maybe this guess at why Jesse Gause might have left the church. But in truth, we don't really know. But it is possible to imagine the painful transition that he had to make out of the church, especially where he found such belonging and potentially a friendship with Joseph Smith at the beginning of his conversion.

[09:11] So my own personal feelings about this story aside, my own personal feelings about polygamy aside, I am really grateful to have this story of Jesse Gause and understand a little bit more than what we get in a chapter heading in the Doctrine and Covenants. So Elise, I would love to hear your thoughts on Jesse Gause’s story, but I also know that you have some thoughts to share with us about the process of excommunication. So I'm excited to hear about that.

Elise: [09:42] Yeah. I mean, don't be too excited because it's mostly, it's mostly painful things about excommunication, especially because I feel like excommunication is constantly both a looming memory, past and present— I think of people like Kate Kelley and Natasha Helfer— and a constant looming threat, because I feel like people, even in our own lives right now doing the podcast, there have been multiple people who come out of the woodwork to tell us to watch out or watch our back in case the church catches wind of us or catches wind of what we're doing, because we might be on the chopping block. Because it seems to be the case that excommunication is used to dismember- and really, I really like that word here- both dismember as like pulling apart or piecing apart the body of Christ, but also dismember in a way that takes away your membership. So I think that excommunication is used to dismember people who do not agree, who won't keep their mouths shut, who have differing beliefs, who call out or push against the church culture, doctrine, policy, et cetera. And so for me, this looming threat is both a past memory and a possible, probable, future I feel like. 

And as I was doing some background research about the process of excommunication, particularly as it came about in the early Saints time, Doctrine and Covenants section 102 outlines that, I think originally, the excommunication process was supposed to be a council of men, church leaders, who were judging other members who disobeyed church doctrine or covenants. But at the same time, this council was also supposed to present evidence on both sides of the cases with “equity and justice”. And even in really difficult situations, members could speak on behalf of the accused. And even more than that, the plaintiff and the defendant were supposed to speak on their own behalf in order to prevent “insult or injustice.”

[11:55] And finally, even the early saints, both men and women often voted on disciplinary proceedings during their church meetings. And as I'm hearing this unfold, I still have a lot of issue with it, but it also reminds me that this process as outlined in Doctrine and Covenants section 102 is quite different than the excommunication process that we see today.

[12:20] I also know that there has been a shift in language around excommunication that sounds more like a membership withdrawal. And to this author, Jana Riess writes, 

“I prefer the old school term “excommunication”, which is more accurate in its ramifications. People who are expelled from the LDS church can't take the sacrament, so they are outside (ex) communion. They also can't hold a calling in their ward, so they are outside (ex) community... I've stated before that I find excommunication to be not only a theologically barbaric practice, but also one of dubious utility. It doesn't come from the example of Jesus. It also doesn't work.” 

[13:16] And Jana Riess even wrote a whole article where she researched every single person that Jesus had ever excommunicated and the entire article, which you can actually like scroll and scroll and scroll through is blank. There was no one. Yeah, it's so good. Jesus never excommunicated anyone. And I think that there's a future conversation here about alternatives to excommunication that maybe look more like restorative and transformative justice, but we'll need to save that for another time. 

[13:35] Reese continues to write: 

“If the point of excommunication is to purify the ranks by getting rid of a few prominent people the church views as bad apples, it too often alienates others, the people in the middle… The church, through excommunicating one outspoken person, hopes to scare all those sympathizers into compliant silence. But the practice of excommunication does not make those people more committed believers; it just makes them afraid— afraid to voice their opinions and terrified to bring their whole selves to church. Which means that they, too, take their place on the spectrum of excommunication outside the body of members — their alienation less formal and official, but no less real.”

Channing: That’s powerful.

Elise:  [14:21] And I hear, and I see, and I feel nothing but pain when thinking about excommunication. I also think that while some become fearfully silent under the loom of excommunication, I also think that it can have a different effect, one that is more expectant of excommunication. One that is more resigned to the possibility and probability of excommunication on the horizon, almost like they're going to burn us anyways, so why not just go out loud saying what we want. Or this line from Huck Finn, when Huck says, “all right then, I'll go to hell.” Or Audre Lord reminding us that “silence will not protect us”. 

So I think in all, when I'm confronted with the story about Jesse Gause and the unknown details about his excommunication, I'm reminded to make space and commune with those that the church would rather silence and dismember as opposed to saving them a seat on the soft chairs. What about you, Channing? What thoughts are rolling through your mind as we're talking about excommunication? 

Channing: [15:25] My thoughts about excommunication are always going to be rolled up into my own personal experience with this looming threat of excommunication. I've said it before to other people that I know, I'm pretty sure that some day it will probably happen for me just because I am definitely like Huck Finn, like, Alright, I will go to hell then. And so I'm reminded every time I think about excommunication of a conversation that you and I had years ago and I've shared on here before, on the podcast, that I had an experience once where I was called into the Bishop's office and accused of Satanic witchcraft and I was so terrified of being excommunicated because of my feminist beliefs and because of my such strong love for Heavenly Mother. And I remember you said that you had been talking to one of your professors about this situation and like the concern about being ex-communicated and your professor said if that ever happened to just tell her that she can walk out of the church and say, “you can't excommunicate me, I am the church”. 

Elise: [16:44] That's such a good line. And I always, always think of that. I always have that ready. And it provides me so much comfort and solace. You can't excommunicate me, I am the church.

Channing: [16:54] I remember that and it brings me so much strength, especially, you know, combined with- I love that you included this quote from Audre Lorde- “your silence will not protect you”. Those two things for me, intersect with each other in such a way that I know that my purpose in the church to be an advocate, be vocal, be loud and stand for what I know to be is truth and righteousness and a witness for God, no matter what the cost is. I am the church and I have a responsibility to that, and my silence will not protect me. And I have a responsibility to myself and I have a responsibility to my sisters and to my community to show up in a way that requires a lot of bravery and requires a lot of vulnerability, but ultimately at the end of the day I can go to bed and I can sleep at night knowing I've lived in my full integrity and I've lived in my full authenticity.

[18:02] And so when I think about excommunication, I think about Jesse Gause's story, and I think about all of the people who have been silently and slowly shut down. I look at those people, like our friend, our author here, D. Michael Quinn. He was excommunicated for all of his scholarly research that he did at BYU. He got excommunicated for telling what the actual history was. So I look at the past of a lot of people who've been excommunicated, scholars and feminists like Kate Kelly and Natasha Helfer, people who are standing up and saying, Hey, I'm noticing that something's not quite right here and we need to fix it. And to just, like you said, our ex-community-ed, ex-communioned, excommunicated, pushed out of the community because they don't conform.

[19:00] I'm like, okay, those are actually the people that I really admire, kind of want to hang out with. So those are my thoughts on excommunication. Just, it is a looming threat. It's horrific. It's a practice that I wish was non-existent and in my own very recent experience, I do think that for the most part it serves more as a cleansing of the church from what is perceived to be a threat rather than an actual inclusion of love. And those practices should always be suspect and always be criticized because as I'm saying it out loud, I'm like, yeah, that's horrific. To excommunicate someone and push them out of a community in ancient times that would mean leaving them for dead. And so, yeah, I have lots of suspicions about the practice of excommunication, but I'm excited when we get to section 102 to go more deeply into this. So thank you for giving us kind of a sneak peak of what we can expect there. 

Elise: [20:19] You're welcome. Thanks for sharing. I think we can move on to section 82. And I just have a small thought about verse three and verse four. So section 82, verses three and four say, “for of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” Verse four, “ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and in as much as you keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, you become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law.” 

[20:44] At first I think that verse three kind of feels manipulative. Like, I'll give you a lot of blessings and then you'll owe me a lot. But if we reframe this and think about it through a lens of privilege, I think that it makes a lot more sense. If we have been given lots of privileges, then we are also called to make really big sacrifices or spend our privilege in really big ways. That is to say much is required of us. And even along the same lines, I think that verse four also strikes me as important because if you go down this path and you ask for revelations and you ask for increased knowledge, but then you feign ignorance or act ignorantly when you know better, I can see how this is the greater trespass here. It's not like you should have known better, but you literally did know better and you still chose to not act or not listen or not do the thing. And maybe an example of this could look like asking people to teach you something or inform you about something, but then not following through on what you've learned. Maybe asking, What can I do to fight sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, but then not being willing to give up something or not being willing to sacrifice or make a lasting change. And with this talk about privilege and using it and spending it in big ways, I actually think that that transitions us really nicely to section 83. This is a really short section, but I think it highlights some of the people that often go forgotten or pushed aside, or are incredibly marginalized: widows and children.

[22:37] The large theme for section 83 is that widows and children “have claim”, which is to say that they have power to demand a recognition of their right or to call out or ask or demand by virtue of right or authority. A bit more background for this section comes from, there's a passage (link: Historical Context and Background of D&C 83 | Doctrine and Covenants Central) from Stephen C. Harper that says:

While he was in Missouri in spring 1832, Joseph “received a welcome known only by brethren and sisters united as one in the same faith.”1 These Saints, including widows Phebe Peck and Anna Rogers, were acting on the law of consecration as best they could. The law specified that “individuals” should consecrate surplus to the storehouse maintained by the bishop so that “every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants,” but it was not clear that women could be supplied as well (D&C 42:33). Section 83 is an “addition to the laws” already given.2 It clarifies that the storehouse is for widows, orphans, and children whose parents cannot provide for them.”

And a bit more background comes from Casey Paul Griffith who writes, “Joseph's friendship with them [Phebe Peck and Anna Rogers] may have led him to asking the Lord how the law of consecration related to the widows and the fatherless.” So I think that we can hear from both of these sections that truly it's widows and children that are at the heart and center of this section.

Channing: [24:01] Yeah, absolutely. And this really echoes a lot of what we see in the Bible as well. When we get to the Old Testament and the New Testament next year, we'll see that there are four distinct groups in the Bible who must be protected by the church. And those four groups are widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor. And as I was doing some research for today's episode I came across some really compelling information from biblical scholar, Paula Hiebert. And she says:

“There are three distinctions of a widow in the Bible. The first is a woman whose husband died, but that she had a son with and therefore through her son has familial claim on the ancestral land, through her son. Second, a woman whose husband died before having children at all so she is protected through the Levirate law that demands that her husband's family produce another husband for her. And third, a woman whose husband died without claim to ancestral land. This also covers the category for orphans. Orphans are defined as children whose fathers are deceased and will not inherit land.”

And I appreciate these three distinctions of widows— not because I feel like they need to be separated— but I think because it gives us an understanding of how this law worked in Bible times and also I think gives us kind of a perspective into what the system was for ranking the needs of people, right? So in a system that disproportionately oppresses women, widows, for sure, are in a category of socioeconomic status that will suffer greatly if they do not have some kind of protection offered to them. And again, because orphans are considered those children whose father was deceased and they will not inherit land, by definition orphans are most likely disproportionately girls as well. And so the poverty of these two groups of orphans and women is socioeconomic and it cannot be changed unless the system changes. Therefore the system demands their care.  And unfortunately, these women are entirely dependent on the system that's set up for their care and it's not always followed through with, like, we'll come across a couple of examples in the Bible, like the story of Tamar, who had claim on care through her husband's family line and it was not provided. So she had to be totally “bad-A” and go through and figure out how to get it for herself and she did. But in context of the Doctrine and Covenants, and especially in context of a more modern setting, we can look at these broader definitions of widow and orphan and expand their meaning to mean those who fall in intersecting identities of oppression and poverty.

[27:18]  So in modern times, that definition expands from merely girls and women and moves into the four biblical groups, broadly black women, immigrant women, disowned women and disabled women. This overlap of identities matters when we're talking about oppression. Widows are only poor when the law or the system makes them so and orphans are only uncared for when their surviving parent is unable to care for them. And so I appreciate this perspective on the system set up to care for widows and orphans— not because I think it's a bad thing, I think it is a good thing— but I also think that it demonstrates, in some ways, where women do not have the same opportunity to care for themselves and care for their children as a man would if his wife had passed away. And so I think it's important to look at this from all sides and all perspectives, especially when it comes up in the Doctrine and Covenants. 

Elise: [28:31] I really appreciate you outlining those kind of distinctions and categories for us. I also think that it helps us think about two women who are named explicitly in the background of section 83. Their names are Phebe Peck and Anna Rogers. And I wish I knew a little bit more about them. I'm going to share what we do know, and also a little bit of an imaginative rendering of these two women.

[28:55] But from what we do know— and this comes from the Saints book— Phebe Peck, she was a really faithful woman, she had three kids who were baptized. She was married to Polly Knight's brother. And we've talked about Polly in a previous episode, which means that she was probably welcomed into the Knight family. But the Saints text says that she also missed her own family and friends in New York. The Saints book says, “shortly after her children's baptism, she wrote to two of her friends about Zion. ‘You would not think it a hardship to come here’ she told her friend Anna. ‘for the Lord is revealing the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven unto His children’.” And I don't know if this is Anna Rogers? It's actually not, it’s Anna Jones Pratt, but alas I still think that Phebe Peck and Anna Rogers were friends. So it was hopeful for me to see Phebe writing a letter to Anna, but it's a different Anna. The Saints book continues— and I think this highlights Phebe's faithfulness and exuberance for the gospel— “Phebe urged another friend, Patty, to listen to the gospel message. ‘Could you but see and believe as I do’, she wrote, ‘the way would be opened and you would come to this land and we should behold each other and rejoice in the things of God’.” 

[30:15] And just with a small snapshot about Phebe and the reminder that Joseph Smith was friends with both Phebe and Anna, I think that we can see that they were really, really good friends. In my mind, I'm imagining them being friends with one another, but it sounds like they were good friends to those around them. I would also guess that both Phebe and Anna were pretty honest about their situation and bold and asking for their needs to be met. Especially if we follow the line that Joseph Smith's friendship with these women may have prompted him to ask the Lord how the law of consecration relates to widows. Maybe Phebe and Anna were funny and vibrant, intelligent, caring. Maybe they were good dancers or great writers. We can see here Phebe writing a lot of letters to her friends. And I'm reminded of the importance of widening our circles and making friends, especially making friends with those who at first glance, or maybe first chat, may seem quite unlike us. For example, me, thinking, “Well, I don't think I have a lot in common with a stay at home mom with kids.” LOL. That was my best friend. That is my best friend. That is how you and I met. 

Channing: [31:28] Yep. I love that story. 

Elise: [31:30] Also, how are we to know the true needs of others if they are not our friends, our true deep friends, because there's a difference between knowing and knowing about, right? And on the other hand, being a true deep friend allows us to advocate for the needs of our friends as if those needs were our own, like maybe Joseph Smith had been doing here. And I like to think Phebe and Anna may have been doing for one another and doing for all of the other widows in their community. In this way, this looks and sounds a lot like allyship to me. And I think I'm seeing a thread between allyship and friendship.

[32:12] I also like to think of Phebe and Anna as being really good friends and partners in crime, kind of, I can imagine this is my own rendering, but I can imagine them kind of like doubling up on Joseph Smith to help gain explicit access to the storehouse and like working with one another to make these things happen.

Channing: [32:28] I love thinking about Anna and Phebe in this way, it kind of reminds me of the relationship that I have with my own sister-in-law where she and I definitely, we have our own conspiring work together to try and make things happen. And I think also continuing on with this imaginary portrait sketch that you've done of these women, I think I can also imagine them asking for what they needed; childcare support and sustenance. And I can also imagine that these women were acutely aware of the low status, discrimination, the stereotypes of evil and bringing bad luck, and the lack of legal rights to inheritance or property that follows widows. And they probably also knew that being treated this way doesn't just hurt them, but it hurts their community, specifically their children, as they may not have shelter or food or education.

[33:26] And these are all important elements to imagine and picture when we think about Anna Rogers and Phebe Peck, because we've said this before in our Book of Mormon episodes, even if we don't have explicit information about these women, we definitely have implicit information and we can imagine what their lives and their needs were like, because they're not so very much unlike our own.

Elise: [33:52] Yes. Thank you for imagining these women with me. And this is maybe the point in the episode where we're flashing forward into the future, into the next week, talking about section 84. We've gone back and forth about how to engage with, or not engage with, approach or not approach, section 84, especially because it's such a long chapter and a significant portion of it focuses only on the priesthood. And please remember, we've already done an entire episode about the priesthood. It's actually called “The One Where We Talk about the Priesthood”.

[34:22] But really what we want to say about this section is that you get to choose how you engage with the text. As the official ordinance and authority of the priesthood excludes women, we're not responsible for learning about, engaging with, or creatively unpacking the Priesthood. Like Channing has said in another episode, “unfortunately, knowing about priesthood power and the privileges it affords you within an institution is a poor pathetic substitute for actually having the ability to hold and use it.”

[34:55] And honestly, I don't know what more to say. How many times can we say that this is not equitable or fair? How many different ways can we say that the priesthood excludes women and then just turn around and make poor justifications that are always rooted in sexism, hierarchy, patriarchy, benevolent patriarchy for why this exclusion is okay.

Even more, why are we always trying to find a way to justify that the priesthood, the way that it's organized right now, is God's divine order? 

Channing: [35:27] Yeah, I totally agree with you Elise. And one of the ideas that we had for what to do with the section of the text is we were going to record an episode that was like two minutes long and it basically just said exactly what you said. Women are not responsible for engaging in the priesthood when it actively excludes them over and over and over again. And so luckily we don't have to do that because someone else has already gone to great lengths to showcase in an even more creative way, what our feelings are about the priesthood. And there's a really lovely vignette piece titled Dear Mormon Man, Tell Me What You Would Do. And this is written by Amy McPhie Allebest and she actually has her own podcast and her own Instagram that we definitely highly recommend. It's called Breaking Down Patriarchy. And she goes through and reads different feminist texts and breaks them all down and kind of walks us through a feminist approach to life. And so we highly recommend her podcast, and we were super thrilled to make the connection that this is the very same Amy that wrote this article that we came across a few years ago, that we're just really, really in love with. 

Elise: [36:48] In this piece, she flips the script of men and women's roles in the church to highlight the pain that women may feel being in an institution and in a faith that excludes them at every turn. This entire piece is worth a read but given that section 84 is about the priesthood and even sections 81 and 82 are about the creation of the first presidency, which is exclusively male and tied to the priesthood, we wanted to read just a few paragraphs here.

Channing: [37:17] So most of her article is written as if it was from the perspective of a man reading it. Amy writes:

 “Every Spring and Fall, you and your family gather to hear the counsel of the prophetess and her apostelles, women called by Heavenly Mother to be Her special witnesses. You gaze at the front of the conference, awed by the righteous power of those women, organized into special groups of twelve and seventy, forming a visual wall of feminine strength. At one point you notice below them and to the side, a small group of men sitting together. They must be nice too, you think. Occasionally men give talks, but you never see a man pray in Conference.

Elise: [38:02] “You grow up with the kids in your ward family. At eight years old you are baptized and confirmed by your mother, as all the kids are by their mothers (except one of your friends, whose older sister is sixteen and has become a priestess — she gets to baptize him). Your grandmothers stand next to the baptismal font as witnesses, and the saving ordinance is presided over and recorded by the sisters of the priestesshood.

The girls join Girl Scouts of America, which is hosted by and integrated with the Church structure. Girl Scouts provides awesome adventures for the girls, and the ward supports it heartily with its budget and callings, which you raise your arm to sustain in sacrament meeting.

Channing: [38:34] “You turn twelve, and the girls in your Sunday school class begin receiving the priestesshood and passing the sacrament. You sit in the pews with the fathers and the children, watching those girls handle the ordinances with responsibility and reverence.”

Elise: [38:50] A little bit later, “You love school, and your teachers encourage you to to pursue your passions, but you have been taught the truth: that your Goddess-given duty to be a husband and father in Zion is your most important (which actually means only) role. At some point it occurs to you that your teenage girl friends will be wives and mothers, and they will get to have careers and the priestesshood. Your church leaders try to comfort you by reading the Prophetess’ Proclamation on the Family, which clearly states that mothers preside over their homes in love and righteousness, but that the two genders work as equal partners, so it all works out. You think a lot about those words preside over.”

[39:39]  I hope that you can get a sense, from even the small amount that Channing and I have read, just how powerful this piece is. In fact, I would encourage you, if you get bogged down by section 84, or you get incredibly frustrated or upset and you just don't have the words or the bandwidth to engage with a priesthood that excludes you, I would encourage you to read this piece and share it with others.

Channing: [39:57] My experience reading this piece was twofold. First, I was like, yes. Now the men in my life will understand how I really feel, all this time. And secondly, I was surprised at how emotional I felt reading the article. I was like, Can you imagine if we included Heavenly Mother in this way? Can you imagine if I could look at General Conference and see myself represented in all of the authority in the church? I got kind of teary-eyed thinking about that and thinking about the potential and it's true, that's the potential. And I think that that potential part is absolutely key here. Even when we are looking at section 81, which is mostly entirely dedicated to the priesthood, but there are some verses there that I really, really loved. In verse five, it says, “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees..” Verse six says, “And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shall have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.”

[41:15] And this makes me remember that mansion that we talked about in the plan of salvation episode that Elise so beautifully illustrated for us. It's this imagining of a really big house that we all live in together and has so many rooms, but again, we only get there if we're all there together, only after we learn to live the law of care and succor or consecration can we really begin to imagine a Heaven that is really inclusive and loving. And in section 82, there were even more verses that I loved, even more verses that offered me a lot of hope.

[41:55] Verse 17 says, “and you are to be equal”. Verse 19, “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God”. And even when I read these verses and I think we're so far, we haven't gotten there yet. These also include a hope, a glimmer of hope, that mustard seed of hope that this potential and the dream is there. And sometimes, a hope and a dream is all we need to push us forward into the future that is radically inclusive, welcoming and loving.

Elise: [42:43] Friends, thank you so much for joining us on this 2 in 1 episode. Whether you split it up or listen to it all at once to get a little bit ahead, we hope that you really, really enjoy it.

Channing: [42:54] We love you so much. And we're so grateful to have been able to spend this time with you. We can't wait to talk to you again soon. Bye!

Powered by Blogger.