Kate Kelly Excommunicated

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of the Ordain Women movement in the Mormon church was formally excommunicated today. For those unfamiliar with excommunication, it severs all ties between the Church and the individual. All ordinances on behalf of the individual are no longer valid, including the sealing ordinance by which husbands, wives and their family are sealed to each other for time (this life) and eternity.

Unlike excommunication in the Catholic Church centuries ago, members of the LDS faith are not forbidden to associate with Ms. Kelly. “Disciplinary councils” which is the formal name given to church proceedings such as this, are often referred to as councils of love. While that is difficult for the average person, especially the ex communicant to understand, the reasoning is this. The excommunicated person has been found to have violated one of God’s laws. For Latter-day Saints, especially those (like Ms. Kelly) who have been through the temple and made sacred covenants with God, allowing them to continue in full faith and fellowship in the Church while in a state of transgression, would compound their error. It is much like when Adam and Eve, after having eaten of the forbidden fruit, were barred from the Tree of Life, first by cherubim and then by expulsion from the Garden, “lest they partake of the fruit and live forever in their sins.”

For Ms. Kelly her future is in her hands. If she sincerely repents, which will undoubtedly require her to stop agitating for the ordination of women and probably admit her complicity in trying to persuade others away from the teaching of the Church, she can be re-baptized and have all ordinances restored.

Contrary to how this might be spun in the media, this is not a human or women’s rights issue. It is a religious liberty issue that addresses the right of any religious organization to place certain responsibilities on those who wish to claim the benefits of membership. Right now Ms. Kelly seems not to grasp that distinction.

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Ordain Women Part III

This topic has just about been beaten to death but I have one more thing to add. I recently came across a great blog post by Katie Liff entitled “To My Brothers and Sisters in the Ordain Women Movement.” Katie (if I may be so personal — we haven’t been formally introduced) makes note of a comment made by one of the Ordain Women members: “We don’t want to just nurture.”

Well, let me flaunt the high-profile, important jobs that we priesthood holders perform. For most of the past 35 years, since 1979, I have been called to the Young Men’s organization. From 2000-2013 I served continuously in the YM, holding such lofty positions as Scoutmaster (by the way, BSA doesn’t allow female Scoutmasters, though they do allow co-ed Venture leaders in co-ed Venture crews); Venture adviser; Varsity coach; etc. What did I do? I taught them to cook, to wash their hands before eating, to set up tents so when it rained it didn’t swamp them. I took them on camping trips and outings, resolved disputes, counseled boys who weren’t sure where they were going in life, helped them back on track, prayed for those who wavered and fell away, attended mission farewells and homecomings and tried, with varying success, to make them into men who would be worthy priesthood holders, good husbands and fathers and contributing members of society. In my dictionary, that qualifies as “nurturing.”

I can count on one hand the number of times I “used” my priesthood in the sense Ordain Women wants. Twice I gave blessings to young men who requested them. The rest of the time I was not “using” the priesthood as these women visualize it. The rest of the time I was doing exactly what these dissatisfied nurturers don’t want to do anymore.

Since 2013 I have been in the High Priest group leadership in our ward. I visit other High Priests and single, elderly sisters in the ward. I help them when I can, I listen to their concerns, I pray for them, I put their names on the lists at the temple. Occasionally I take a meal that my wife has prepared to someone’s home. It is true I have given more blessings in the past year than I have in the previous 13 but only because the group that I am nurturing is older. That still sounds pretty much like nurturing to me.

I have never been in a bishopric, stake presidency, mission president or other high-profile position. Whenever it’s time for a new bishopric to be called in our ward I take an extended vacation. I’ve thought about leaving a beer can or two on my front lawn during these times (just kidding about that part). I do not aspire to any such position and I daresay very few bishops, stake presidents or other high-profile officials ever did either.

Service in the church is mostly nurturing. That’s the whole point of mortality. We’re all here to help each other gain exaltation. If that isn’t nurturing I don’t know what is.

Ordain Women?

LDS (“Mormon”) General Conference is this weekend. A group of women who tried to gain admission to the Priesthood Session held on Saturday night at the October, 2013, General Conference are planning to try again. These women, members of a group called Ordain Women are asking The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to change its stance on allowing women to hold the priesthood.

The LDS Church is a lay church. Except at the very top levels no one receives any pay for his or her work on behalf of the Church. All males are eligible to hold the priesthood at age 12. Depending on the office held, this allows the priesthood holder to baptize and confirm new members, bless babies, give priesthood blessings and preside in various offices.

Ordain Women believes that the male-only policy marginalizes women and excludes them from the full blessings of membership in the church. Their website has several profiles of members who profess to love the church but feel women are second-class members because they lack the priesthood. In reading these profiles one gets the sense that these people (some are men) are earnest in their belief. However in reading some of the reasoning behind their position, one also gets the sense that in one way or another they have lost sight of what the church is about.

One woman uses the examples of Peter being told in a dream that he can kill and eat animals that hitherto had been forbidden under the Mosaic law; Samuel answering the Lord’s call in the Old Testament and even Joseph Smith in having the audacity to begin a new religion. Each of these, this woman argues, went against the well-established norm but resulted in sea changes.

What these examples overlook is that in none of the cases did the person involved actively seek what was given. Peter did not ask the Lord if it was now permissible to eat previously forbidden meat. Samuel did not ask the Lord to be called. Joseph Smith did not go to the sacred grove asking for permission to start a new church. All of them were attempting to act within the status quo. Another example is Nephi when he killed Laban. Nephi did not go to the Lord with the idea of justifying murder; in fact, when he first was told to slay Laban he was repulsed.

The other thing that this approach overlooks is the nature of the church. To be a member requires a belief that God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. If you can’t believe that then the whole church falls apart. If God and Jesus Christ didn’t appear to Joseph Smith then the whole thing is a sham, one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on humanity. But if they did appear then you have to believe that Jesus Christ leads the church. There is no way to claim you are a faithful member and simultaneously deny that Jesus Christ, not Thomas Monson, leads this church. And if you do believe Jesus Christ is at the head, then by protesting the priesthood policy you are claiming to know better than the Lord what’s best for His church.

I have no problem with people wanting change. My point is that bringing publicity to the issue to force change isn’t appropriate in this situation. The church is not a democracy. Public opinion won’t change policy the way the Civil Rights or Gay Rights movements have changed policy in the United States. So the only justification for publicly demonstrating like Ordain Women plans to do is to justify their own egos or bring shame on the church.  If they want true change, they need to pray and fast in secret and their Father in Heaven will reward them openly. If they ask openly for these things “that they may be seen of men [and women],” they have their reward. Matt.6:5.

Looking at the profiles of the people, most are far too young to know of, let alone remember, Sonia Johnson. She, too, began as a faithful member.