I recently read an essay by Tresa Edmunds entitled “The Next Generation of Mormon Feminism” which was published on Patheos.com as part of a collection of essays on the topic of the future of Mormonism. Sister Edmunds feels that we are at the “brink of a Mormon feminist renaissance,” facilitated by Internet technology which allows like-minded LDS women, and not just academics, to support and protect each other, and to coordinate and evangelize in ways previously unavailable.
She describes young women who are choosing to leave the church rather than “shrink themselves down and become less” to fit into the role prescribed by the Church for women because the “vision we give them of their future is not a future they want.” To confront this issue, she and others have created “Women Advocating for Voice and Equality” (WAVE). Their objective is to change the church.
I empathize a lot with these women. I have watched over the last 6 years, mostly from the sidelines, as these Internet communities of Mormon feminists have grown. They often have heartbreaking stories of abuse and pain, often caused by men who wickedly point to church doctrines in order to justify their unrighteousness.
But this new wave of Mormon Feminism will fail.
Sister Edmunds explains their method for effecting the changes she would like to see in the church this way:
“If we look for a model of effective change for women in the church, we can look to the issues of birth control and working women. For decades, leaders preached about the evils of birth control, until women flat out rejected the counsel. They preached about the dangers of women working outside of the home, but women continued to do it in greater numbers until leaders have had to accept it. Strict essentialist gender roles often bear so little resemblance to our actual lives, we just have to keep living in the manner best for our family, and things will catch up.”
So, according to sister Edmunds, the way to effect change in the Church is through actively rejecting the counsel of the prophets with which we disagree until they are forced to accept and change; disobey and disregard until the rules are changed. If I am misunderstanding then I apologize in advance.
Do these women understand what they are advocating? When has a people or an individual ever been blessed because they rejected the words of the prophets?
Even if we withhold judgment about whether the changes they seek are good or not, and even disregarding whether their approach achieves its ends or not, the means by which they intend to accomplish those changes are not of God.
The fact that women rejected the prophet’s counsel regarding working outside the home until the practice became so widespread that many women, regardless of their personal preference, were forced to enter the workforce in order to support their families as two-income homes became the economic baseline for meeting normal family financial needs does not mean that the counsel was not inspired and correct.
Even though the Lord had told him ‘no’ multiple times, Martin Harris persisted in asking the prophet Joseph for permission to take the manuscript of the Book of Mormon home to show his dubious wife, until finally the Lord gave him what he wanted. The results were disastrous.
Despite prophets’ contrary counsel, the Israelites wanted a king, and finally the Lord gave them one. The second book of Chronicles relates the long term tragic results.
Be careful what you ask for because if you persist, eventually the Lord may just give it to you even when he knows that you are wrong and has said so previously.
It’s possible, I suppose, that the new Mormon feminists will ignore, disobey, and agitate until they get what they want. But if they do, in the long run it will be to their condemnation and sorrow.
Many of these women think that the church should change to allow women to be ordained to and serve in offices in the Priesthood. I have no idea whether that change will ever happen or not. God can decide to give His priesthood to whomever will best accomplish his purposes, and I cannot say that he wont decide to extend priesthood offices to His daughters one day. But I can say that the method by which the Mormon feminists aim to achieve this and their other aims is completely contrary to the Priesthood itself.
Section 84 of the book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church explains:
“And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. ”
Trying to receive the priesthood by rejecting the guidance of the Lord’s authorized servants is a contradiction because the oath and covenant of the priesthood itself requires that we receive his authorized servants.
That doesn’t mean that women have no recourse to bring about changes in the church. There is a proper model: Obedience, submission, and supplication, instead of disobedience, defiance, and evangelism. God actively guides His Church. If there are changes that need to be made, then they should be addressed with Him directly. If women and men will humbly submit to the counsel of the Lord’s authorized servants, and raise their voices in continual, faithful supplication to God concerning their sorrows and griefs, He will see their humility, obedience, sacrifice, and righteousness and He will hear their pleas. And because of their obedience and faith He will bless them, and if necessary intercede according to his superior wisdom and love.
I am not advocating submitting to an abusive husband or to unrighteous dominion by priesthood leaders. But I am advocating submission to the counsel and teachings of the prophets and apostles, even if you disagree, and keeping your disagreements generally private, trusting that the Lord hears your prayers, and relying on the Lord to correct his servants if they should be corrected, and trusting Him if he does not.
This approach requires that you believe that the Lord is real and guides His church, that the priesthood is real, that the prophets and apostles of the church are in fact His servants, that he hears and answers your prayers, and above all that he loves you.
Isaiah warns us in chapter 50:
“Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.”
If they seek to illuminate their way with the sparks and fire of feminism, instead of obeying the voice of the Lord’s authorized servants and trusting in God, then the new Mormon feminists will fail. The path of disobedience can only end in apostasy and sorrow.