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LDS Church Responds to Ordain Women

Here is the full memo/letter from the LDS Church sent to Ordain Women about the planned protest for the Priesthood Session of LDS General Conference on April 5:

TO: April Young Bennett, Debra Jenson, Kate Kelly, Hannah Wheelwright FROM: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
SUBJECT: Ticket and Meeting Request
DATE: March 17, 2014

Dear Sisters,
Thank you for your letter and email.

Some wonderful conversations have been held over recent years, and are continuing to be held, relative to women in the Church and the invaluable contributions we make. The recent changes you have seen, most notably the lowering of the missionary age for sisters, serve as examples and were facilitated by the input of many extraordinary LDS women around the world.

Women in the Church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme. Declaring such an objective to be non-negotiable, as you have done, actually detracts from the helpful discussions that Church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns, and hopes of women inside and outside of Church leadership. Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His Church.

The priesthood session of General Conference is designed to strengthen men and boys as they receive specific instruction about their roles and responsibilities; therefore we are unable to fulfill your request for tickets. You are certainly welcome to view the live broadcast of the priesthood session on lds.org, the Mormon Channel or BYUtv. We invite you, as our sisters, to participate with women everywhere in the parallel meeting for women and girls on March 29, and hope you will join us in a spirit of love and harmony. The women’s meeting is a remarkable gathering of worldwide sisterhood, and was proposed and planned by the presidencies and boards of the Primary, Young Women and Relief Society as a time to focus on ennobling and eternal doctrines relating to women.

Your organization has again publicized its intention to demonstrate on Temple Square during the April 5 priesthood session. Activist events like this detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at General Conference. Please reconsider.

If you feel you must come and demonstrate, we ask that you do so in free speech zones adjacent to Temple Square, which have long been established for those wishing to voice differing viewpoints. They can be found on the attached map.

As fellow Latter-day Saints and friends of the Church, we invite you to help us maintain the peaceful environment of Temple Square and ask that you please follow these details in your continued planning. In addition, consistent with long-standing policy, news media cameras will not be allowed on Temple Square during General Conference.

Again, we hope you will join us for the General Women’s Meeting on March 29 and contribute to the strength of sisterhood in our communities.

Kindest regards,

Jessica Moody
Public Affairs,
On behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Responses to the letter from Ordain Women can be found in the Deseret News.

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Comments

  1. Rob Perkins says:

    “Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His Church.”

    A very clear exposition of that doctrine, grounded in scripture, would be most welcome.

    • See Elder Anderson’s wonderful talk last conference. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/power-in-the-priesthood?lang=eng

      Also, Elder Christofferson touched on this subject quite powerfully as well.

      • Rob Perkins says:

        Elder Anderson’s talk does a powerful job of reiterating the possibilities for expansive and fulfilling service within the Church. But it accepts as normal the status quo, and doesn’t directly answer the questions raised by Ordain Women.

        Put more broadly, why *don’t* we ordain women? I can understand the social, cultural, and political reasons for arranging things the way they’ve pretty much always been arranged throughout history. I can explain them to my daughters, express my ignorance as to “otherwise why”, but, I cannot point to a scripture and tell them that’s where God established it. They remain satisfied that it is God’s Church and that they’re not imperiled eternally by role divisions. But they and I are confounded as to the reasons why they can’t pass sacrament trays or say the ordinance prayers. “You’re a girl” is not really a reason to them.

        So, what is the *doctrinal* basis for it? Where is it found, declared as a point of doctrine, in the LDS canon? If it is doctrine, as claimed, it ought to be searchable as a point of doctrine.

        • The doctrinal basis is that God has to date only extended his priesthood to those that are male. In biblical times the priesthood was only extended to those of Levi, in the time of Christ to the gentiles and today to all worthy males. It is possible that female ordination will one day happen. However, for that to happen will require direct revelation to the Lord akin to Peter’s vision or Official Declaration 2.

        • Rob Perkins says:

          Why?

        • We Don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that. God does know however.

        • Rob Perkins says:

          But that is not an answer to my question.

        • Kristine says:

          That really isn’t at all clear. There is, in any case, scriptural and historical precedent for a much broader role for women–Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna, Junia, Priscilla, Emma, Eliza… And that’s just the ones whose names end in A!! 🙂

        • Rob Perkins says:

          Yes, of course. But what I’m interested in is a doctrinal exposition on the matter. The Proclamation on the Family is not a document about ordination, but it is the most recent official document to delineate gender roles. An expansion on it might be instructive, if officially given.

          There must be a doctrinal basis, grounded in canon, which can support Sister Moody’s letter. It’s acceptable to me if it’s first-order reasoning combined with true things about the social state of the Church throughout the world. Anyone?

        • What is doctrine? Whatever it is, it clearly is not one that is rooted in canon. Ours is more like common law, it is rooted in practice with a heavy deference to those in position of authority. It gives minimal weight to texts or theology.

        • Rob Perkins says:

          As far as usage goes, “doctrine” can reduce to “the thing we do according to a plan”. If that’s what the press office means, then there’s nothing more to be said about it, I guess.

        • I think “there’s nothing more to be said about it” may be what they were getting at. However, I do not think they were using doctrine in a particularly nuanced or meaningful way. I think the PR office was primarily focused on the details of the protest and the priesthood session. But we sure do throw around the term of concept of doctrine like it is a concrete thing.

        • Broader role sure . . . but there is no evidence that they ever had the priesthood, and Elder Anderson and others have made it clear that in this time only men are given the priesthood. That might change, but until it does, I will follow the Lord and his Prophet and Apostles.

  2. C. Rider says:

    OW will not stop ever, no answer of ‘no’ from the church will ever satisfy them. They have been quite clear on that. Behind the women’s ordination protest demonstration, if you look at the sites they primarily converse in you’ll see that there lurks a whole gamut of demands, same sex marriage solemnized in the temple, elimination of all difference in roles between genders, etc.

  3. …men may hold the keys of the priesthood, but the power on the priesthood can be exercised by every church member…
    Can’t remember where i pick that up, but i love it!

  4. naturadeorum says:

    May I remind you that people of Black African ancestry have been barred to LDS priesthood for a very long time, and that this doctrine was conveniently changed when the pressure became too strong (similar to the official discontinuing of plural marriage)? There are several hints that point to women exercising ruling positions in the primitive Christian Church. Even if you take the Bible literally, you don´t have more reason to deny women the same rights as men do when it comes to ministering (“priesthood”) than you have to mandate a brother marrying his brother´s widow if they haven´t had children, or to ask people from refraining to eat foods that contain blood.

  5. A decent starting point to nail down the green Jello of doctrine might be the Gospel Principles Manual since we just spent two years using it as a study guide in PH and RS and use it to teach new converts. What does it say about priesthood?

    • Only I am allowed to give homework assignments here. Would you like to share what it says that you think might be helpful in this discussion? That said, the Gospel Principles Manual seems an odd place to start. It would be like trying to resolve a historical dispute by turning to a middle-school social studies text book.

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