Repost of “The Mormon Priestess”


The following post is simply reposted to the LDS Anarchy blog from Feminist Mormon Housewives [originally authored by Elisothel].

*note*It has been reblogged onto this site with permission from the author

The original source = The Mormon Priestess

[use "MormonPriestess" as the password]. 

In my opinion, the author’s expositions are based on suppositions that I do not share.  In other words, I don’t think she is pointing out sufficiently interesting doctrinal points or where she is pointing out interesting points, the conclusion she draws from them are not sound.  So this post is now here so that anyone who is interested may pick it apart according to whatever standards they hold, without the kind of censor one would get from fMh.

The rituals and liturgy of the LDS temple reflect a very consistent internal logic of gender theology.  This essay is my attempt to outline that internal logic, especially with an eye toward the temple ceremony’s messages to women about their identity and spiritual condition.

Women operate as priestesses to God in temple initiatory rituals, which were also used as the template for female-conducted healing and blessing rituals in the early restored church.  Just as the inititiatory ritual blesses parts of the body, pioneer priestesses blessed the body parts of the expectant mother, and healed the body parts of the ill.  Women also operate as priestesses to God when administering in the True Order of Prayer at an altar in the temple.

I suspect that women may start to see themselves more as priesthood actors, which is a wonderful thing.  Elder Oaks explained temple priestesshood as being Melchizedek priesthood power that women utilize under the keys of the temple president.  If only men hold keys and offices, but both men and women can use priesthood power, it is possible that, should the leaders decide it,  women’s exercise of their power in the church could recapture the female priestess practices of the early Restoration era, and perhaps even extend to other areas.

This model of women using priesthood is compelling, and I am so grateful that women and men will be able to speak of it openly going forward, but it is overshadowed by another narrative. The word priestess is actually part of the formal, liturgical temple vocabulary, but it does not denote a woman who is using godly power under the direction of a temple president.  In the temple, woman are promised that they will become “Priestesses unto their Husbands.” Women pledge spiritual allegiance to a husband who will someday be exalted as a god like Heavenly Father, whereupon the wife’s power, her priesthood, will come through the exalted husband.  In this model, the woman is eternally dependent on her husband for a connection to God the Father.

Priestesshood In the Female Initiatory: Priestesses to Elohim and to Husband

The initiatory process undertakes a symbolic cleansing, annointing, and dressing of the body.  Since the initiatory is body-centric, and since men and women have different bodies, male temple workers administer only to men, and female temple workers must administer to women.

The washing is reminiscent of baptism, absolving the initiate of sin and promising purification.  The body is then anointed to receive future blessings.  A symbolic adornment of ritual clothing called the “garment of the holy priesthood” is performed, and the clothing declared “authorized”.  Female temple workers declare authority to enact the initiatory rituals:

“Sister _______, having authority, I wash you preparatory to your receiving your anointings, and whereas you have obeyed the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a true and honest heart, and have been faithful in keeping your covenants, your sins are forgiven and you are clean every whit.”

“Sister _________, having authority, I pour this holy anointing oil upon your head [for and in behalf of _________, who is dead] and anoint you preparatory to your becoming a queen and a priestess unto your husband, hereafter to rule and reign with him in the house of Israel forever.”  

“Sister_______, having authority, I place this garment upon you, which you must wear throughout your life.  It represents the garment given to Adam when he was found naked in the garden of Eden and is called the garment of the holy priesthood.”

(Since 2005, the wording has changed to “under proper authority the garment placed upon you is now authorized and is to be worn throughout your life…”  This wording reflects the new practice of initiates already wearing the garment instead of it being presented to them. The wording “under proper authority” is also used by the men when they perform this ceremony.)

The garment each patron is given is a piece of ritual priesthood clothing.  This priesthood raiment is further developed through the endowment ritual in the shoes, robes, headwear, and other accouterments for both men and women.  Women are clothed in priesthood robes “preparatory to officiating in the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

Certainly, a female temple worker administering initiatories is administering ordinances….however, though the female temple worker is acting as a priestess for God when administering the ordinances, she declares that each patron’s destiny is to become  a priestess not to God, but to her husband.

Priestesshood In the Endowment

The temple ceremonies mention priestesshood only three times.  As discussed above, in the initiatory ordinance a woman is anointed to become “a priestess unto your husband.”  The endowment ritual commences with introductory wording that bridges the initiatory ordinance with the upcoming endowment:

“Brethren, you have been washed and pronounced clean, or that through your faithfulness you may become clean, from the blood and sins of this generation. You have been anointed to become hereafter kings and priests unto the most high God, to rule and reign in the house of Israel forever. Sisters, you have been washed and anointed to become hereafter queens and priestesses to your husbands. Brethren and sisters, if you are true and faithful, the day will come when you will be chosen, called up, and anointed kings and queens, priests and priestesses, whereas you are now anointed only to become such. The realization of these blessings depends upon your faithfulness.”

Modern Mormon women are not instructed on the meaning of the label “priestess unto your husband” or “queens” beyond their own personal interpretation.  No official definition is offered in modern General Conference talks, Church manuals, Relief Society classes, or official proclamations, nor is there any formal instruction for women to understand how to use their priesthood power, unless they are called as a temple worker.

The only venue that DOES explain “priestess unto your husband” is the temple itself. The meaning of the phrase is communicated over and over again in the temple rites, and we often miss it because both men and women see what they want to see – that they are all participating in the endowment ritual from Adam’s perspective.   Women are used to this.  We do, after all, largely use the language of male spirituality at church and as a community (we are to “become like Heavenly Father” even though this is literally impossible for a woman).  It is no wonder that women often seem to interpret their temple journey as a parallel version of Adam’s journey, with expectations of parallel blessings and spiritual status.

The Law of Obedience

Usually when Mormons discuss the status of women in the temple, they focus on the Law of Obedience. Before the changes to the temple ceremony in 1990, Eve said the following:

“Adam, I now covenant to obey your law as you obey our Father.”

And the female participants in the ceremony were instructed:

We will put the sisters under covenant to obey the law of their husbands.“You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep the law of your husband and abide by his counsel in righteousness.”

After the changes to the temple ceremony introduced in 1990, Eve said:

Adam, I now covenant to obey the law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto Father.

And the female participants in the ceremony were instructed:

We will put each sister under covenant to obey the law of the Lord, and to hearken to the counsel of her husband, as her husband hearkens unto the counsel of the Father. You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep the law of the Lord, and hearken to the counsel of your husband as he hearkens to the counsel of the Father.

This change of “obey” to “hearken”, and the omitting of “your (the husband’s) law in the Lord” to “law of the Lord” were considered the significant changes that possibly reflected a more equitable position of women in the gospel.

However, regardless of the nature of the verb in this vow, the relationship between Adam and Eve was completely unaltered:  in both cases Eve covenants to Adam, and not to God.  Both Adam and Eve refer to Elohim as “Father” before they are called to covenant, but when called to covenant, Adam says his covenant to “Elohim”.  Nowhere in the temple endowment does Eve say God’s name (though she does say Lucifer’s name), including when she covenants.  The single time she portrays a covenant relationship, she utters Adam’s name.

The Two Endowments

The old version of the endowment contained the following paragraph, which has been removed from the current transcript:

ELOHIM: Eve, because thou hast hearkened to the voice of Satan, and hast partaken of the forbidden fruit, and given unto Adam, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; nevertheless, thou mayest be preserved in childbearing. Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee in righteousness.

This paragraph establishes the curse of Eve as an eternal God-Man-Woman hierarchy.  Though the above quote was omitted from the current version of the endowment, this hierarchy is repeated and made clear in the Law Of Obedience, where God instructs how Eve is to obtain her salvation:

Inasmuch as Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit, if she will covenant that from this time forth she will obey the law of the Lord and will hearken unto your counsel as you hearken unto mine, and if you will covenant that from this time forth you will obey the law of Elohim, we will give unto you the law of obedience and sacrifice, and we will provide a Savior for you, whereby you may come back into our presence and with us partake of eternal life and exaltation.

EVE: Adam, I now covenant to obey the law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto Father.

ADAM: Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments.

God stipulates that if Eve covenants with Adam, and Adam covenants with God, then a savior will be provided for them.  That is, Adam and Eve’s redemption is contingent upon the pattern established in this exchange, wherein Eve covenants to Adam and Adam covenants to God.

This moment creates a pattern that is binding on the remainder of the ceremony.  It is the only moment where the Adam and Eve actors speak their covenants. Once Adam’s covenant to Elohim is spoken, the patrons become participants instead of observers when, immediately following the actors’ exchange of covenants, the audience makes three successive covenants for themselves: the Law of Obedience (to mimic Adam and Eve), the Law of Sacrifice, and the covenant not to reveal the first token, name, and sign.  As soon as the patrons mimic the law of obedience, they take the place of Adam and Eve for the rest of the ceremony and are represented by a witness couple at the altar.

The moment the patron makes the Covenant of Obedience, that person declares his/her God.  The One that a person ultimately obeys is the One the person ultimately worships.  Adam declares Elohim, but Eve declares Adam because Elohim told her that her salvation depended on her doing so.  At no time in the temple does Eve explicitly covenant to Elohim.  Adam is established as her master.  I posit this is true for every covenant Eve makes.

A female temple patron usually understands that she goes to the temple to make covenants with God (again, we adopt the language of the male spiritual experience), but she does not.  Female patrons make covenants to the future exalted husband.  Her future exalted husband will replace her Father as her god.  This transaction starts with the husband learning the wife’s name (a symbol of stewardship, like Adam naming Eve),  continues through the husband/wife ceremony at the veil, reaches into the sealing ceremony where the wife gives herself to the husband and the husband receives her (but does not give himself), and will progress through every successive covenant they make (second anointing, god resurrecting a man but husband resurrecting the wife, etc).

During the endowment, every covenant made after the Law of Obedience follows this wording:

“You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep/observe the law of (obedience/sacrifice/the gospel/chastity/consecration)…”

or:

“I, _______, covenant before God, angels, and these witnesses, that I will never reveal the (first/second) token of the (Aaronic/Melchizedek) priesthood, with its accompanying name and sign.”

In both phrasings for all remaining covenants, patrons covenant before witnesses, but the phrasing does not say to whom.  The whom is established with the first covenant: Elohim receives covenants for Adam, Adam receives them for Eve.  As the ceremony continues, Adam will administer ordinances  to Eve, not just receive her covenants, mimicking how God is administering to Adam.

We don’t readily see this because in the physical space of our view, the witness couple representing Adam and Eve are at the same altar with Elohim presiding, so it looks like both the man and woman covenant to Him and receive from Him.  However, the male proxy for Elohim only gives tokens to Adam. Also, in modern temples, it is temple workers who administer tokens to patrons so when a female temple worker gives tokens the relationship is not obvious.  But in a live session, Elohim gives tokens to Adam over the altar, Adam gives them to Eve, then Adam and Eve give them to the patrons.  All tokens women get are through their husbands, not from God.

This hierarchy of tokens is reinforced in the ceremony at the veil where Elohim accepts the husband’s tokens as his Lord, and the husband accepts the wife’s tokens as her Lord.

Two different endowments are going on, as if there are two different temples in the same room – one for men and one for women – where each individual views not just his/her own endowment, but also the parallel but distinctly different endowment of the opposite sex.  The endowment creates two individuals of different spiritual status, and acts out the relationship between the two in the veil ceremony, names, tokens, and marriage rites.

Woman, therefore, cannot have priesthood in this mortal life, because God only administers to men.  A woman’s power comes not from God the Father but instead directly through the husbandgod’s exaltation.  In mortality, the husband is not yet divine, so the woman is not yet a priestess.  Once he is exalted (calling and election made sure, which can happen after death or during the second anointing), the woman inherits her priestesshood and she can administer to her husbandgod with power.

The Two Exaltations

The dual-endowment insight suggests two different exaltations. If a woman’s deity is her husband, and she provides his eternal increase (children), and she is his priestess, this means she is not, herself, a deity. A priest and a deity have a specific relationship – one worships the other. The deity loves and upholds covenants to the priest, but the priest is not the deity’s peer.

Even when a Mormon man, who is a priest to Elohim, is exalted, this does not make him the peer to Elohim.  Elohim remains the exalted man’s god, or his Patriarch, forever.  An exalted man remains a priest to Elohim and worships Him. Every increase the exalted man gains is also an increase to Elohim, so man will never catch up to or surpass Elohim – Elohim is that man’s god forever.  Mormonism proclaims that as sons of God all men can also become gods, and this implies there are many gods…but a man does not worship them all, just the god who covenants with and exalts him.

If a woman could be  priestess unto God, she could be exalted by Elohim and unto Elohim, and become a goddess.  But she is a priestess to her husband in her afterlife, not to Elohim. Ultimately therefore, I believe the temple establishes that it is the man who has the direct access to Godly power and apotheosis, and woman has as her promise access to her husbandgod’s power (priestesshood) but NOT, under this definition, access to apotheosis.  She shall be exalted but not become a goddess.  Thus we do not worship her, pray to her, or entreat her for favor.  She is not a source of divine power to the human family, but a source of power to her divine husband.  She is a “Mother in Heaven” but not a “Heavenly Mother.”  The man alone will become a Heavenly Father, a deity, and a deity can have many, many priests (sons) and priestesses (wives).

Church leaders seem divided on the issue of whether or not women are exalted into goddesshood.  Joseph Smith may have believed they were, as is reflected in D&C 132:20:

“Then shall be gods, because they have no end;  therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”  (The “they” refers to a married couple, as established in verse 19.)

When Bruce R. McConkie interpreted this scripture to mean that women would be goddesses in his famous book Mormon Doctrine, Marion G. Romney – who was appointed By President McKay to identify errors in the book – listed “women to be gods” as one of those errors.

Certainly there are many women these days who believe that female exaltation means goddesshood – but few believe that a goddess is to be prayed to, worshiped, considered a source of scripture or priestesshood, or to operate in most other capacities reflective of the Mormon idea of “godhood.”  President Hinckley expressly forbade praying to Heavenly Mother in his famous 60 Minutes broadcast.  So what is the Mormon notion of female exaltation?  This is still a question.  Our most developed doctrine of female afterlife remains polygamy.

Nor does the temple shed much light on the nature of eternal womanhood.  Often women are told that men have priesthood and women have motherhood.  Elder’s Oak’s talk alluded to the power of creating life as something only women can do.  However, the power to create life depends on a mother and a father (indeed, this is the basis for the Church’s arguments against gay marriage), so men are also endowed with the power to create life.  To complicate things, in the temple, the creative triad of Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael create life without women being present at all.  Elohim and Jehovah create Michael, not Elohim and a Mother in Heaven.  If motherhood/creation is a woman’s endowment of power, where is that exercised in the primal account of creation?  It is not mentioned.  Not only that, but Elohim and Jehovah also create Eve.  And they create Eve FROM Adam.  No woman was used to create man, or woman, and in fact according to the account, woman was created FROM, BY and FOR man.  Priesthood, it seems, can create life without a female input, so how am I supposed to take the argument that motherhood is a compliment to priesthood seriously?  If indeed, a mother were instrumental in the creation of Adam and Eve, why isn’t she shown in the temple?  Would she be a goddess if she were?

Some may suggest that men and women partake of the endowment together so that each knows their place in the relationship.  The woman can know that her priestesshood to husbandgod will follow the pattern of her husband’s priesthood to Fathergod.  With this knowledge she can assist her husband (as his helpmeet) to his godhood whereby she will inherit his power as his priestess. To be the husbandgod’s priestess, I believe, means to provide progeny (eternal increase). Consider again the paragraph omitted from the pre-1990 ceremony:

“ELOHIM: Eve, because thou hast hearkened to the voice of Satan, and hast partaken of the forbidden fruit, and given unto Adam, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; nevertheless, thou mayest be preserved in childbearing. Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee in righteousness.”

To be “preserved in childbearing” is often interpreted to mean that a woman’s mortal life will not be lost during the childbirth process.  However, women do die in childbirth, and there are many women/girls who never experience giving birth at all.  If this statement by God were to apply to every women, it would have to be talking about birth/childbearing in an eternal sense – the begetting of spirit children with her exalted husband.  If we interpret the above paragraph to be discussing woman’s childbearing of spirits, then “thou mayest be preserved in childbearing” is talking about how childbearing preserves a woman’s own eternal (not mortal) life.  That is, her access to salvation/preservation, despite her curse of spiritual death (eternal separation from God), is to bear children for her husbandgod.

She disobeyed God the Father, and fell from Him, so to ensure her access to salvation, God provided woman a husbandgod, with whom she can also be a creator.  She is a creator (mother), and a kindombuilder (queen), but she does not wield ultimate authority (goddesshood) over those creations.  Her authority is limited to her ability to directly administer power under her husband.  Hence we continue to learn that the man “presides” because ultimately that is the order of things.

In this model the family is central to the gospel because the family is the kingdom that each couple seeks to build in their exaltation.  Eve’s fall (spiritual death and subsequent disqualification for priesthood) is healed not through Jesus, but through her husband’s exaltation because he is the pathway to God the Father and thus the pathway to overcome spiritual death/separation from God.

Because of Jesus and the atonement woman can be resurrected (live forever) and sanctified (cleansed from sin), but it is through the husband that she is exalted (receives power and eternal increase).  It is little wonder that wifehood and motherhood are women’s highest identities, roles, and attainments in Mormonism, since according to the temple they are the bases of female salvation.

The Two Falls (Adam’s Fall, Eve’s Curse)

In the temple version of the Garden of Eden account, the primary Fall that takes place is Eve’s while Adam remains in good standing with God.  Eve retains a curse – not to suffer during the childbirth process – but to be demoted away from direct access to God the Father, a condition that Mormons define as “spiritual death”.  The temple teaches that Eve’s fall is qualitatively different from Adam’s, and that thus her journey back to God is also different from Adam’s, requiring an eternal submission to her husband as her god.

Both Adam and Eve transgressed, yet the temple reflects that Adam’s redemption is full and allows him to become a priest to Elohim and a god in his own right, so why would Eve have to covenant to Adam and not get to covenant with Elohim, also receiving a full restoration of her relationship with Elohim?

I suggest that Eve’s “curse” was a “fall”  in that she eternally lost her potential to be a priestess to Elohim.  Her only access to exaltation is to be a priestess to another god to whom she is completely devoted body and soul, and to whom she will exercise obedience (unlike her disobedience to Elohim).  For woman, the husbandgod replaces the Fathergod.

In the temple account, Eve’s sins were to listen to Satan, and to remove Adam’s agency to keep both of God’s commandments.  Adam’s only sin was to listen to Eve, and in doing so he actually was doing mankind a favor.  The transgressions are qualitatively different.  To mend all things, Adam must not listen to Eve again but instead, she must obey him in order to set right her tragic series of events.

In the omitted text, one of Eve’s sins is listed:

ELOHIM:  Eve, because thou has hearkened to the voice of Satan….

And later, in text that is still in the ceremony:

ELOHIM:  Inasmuch as Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit, if she will covenant that from this time forth that she will obey….

Both Adam and Eve had to keep both commandments (don’t eat of the tree of knowledge, multiply and replenish the earth), so as soon as Eve broke one, she removed Adam’s ability to keep both commandments even though he had done nothing wrong.  That is, her act interfered with Adam’s free agency.  After she had sinned by partaking of knowledge, Adam could either keep the fruit commandment and lose all progeny by remaining alone in Eden, or else he could break the fruit commandment but still be able to gain progeny.  Adam is put in a position where he has HAS to break a commandment, so he chooses the one that he perceives to be the most important – that is, he chose progeny (“I will partake, that man may be”).  In this context, his act was valiant.  Adam was still punished for his transgression to eat the fruit and to listen to Eve (his penalty was to die /gain mortality and be ejected from the garden) – but unlike Eve, he did NOT remove agency from another or listen to Lucifer (in fact, earlier in the ceremony he rejects Lucifer), so Adam did not lose his potential to gain priesthood unto God.

In this view, Eve’s sin was qualitatively different from Adam’s, and the temple suggests that her act was one that invited spiritual death that could only be overcome by eternally submitting to Adam’s agency, the very agency which she had wounded in Eden.  This is the temple narrative for why women must submit to men and not have direct access to God.

Our modern discourse about Eve does not reflect the temple’s perspective.  In modern rhetoric she is cast as a hero:

“Eve set the pattern. In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress. She set an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow, modeling the characteristics with which we as women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness. Like the Savior, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” Eve, for the joy of helping initiate the human family, endured the Fall. She loved us enough to help lead us.”  (Sherri Dew, Ensign, Nov 2001)

Elder Oaks has put forth some of the most interesting doctrine of Eve, when he discussed the Fall at length in another landmark General Conference address, the Great Plan of Happiness, in 1993:

“It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. And thus Eve and “Adam fell that men might be”.

Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.   Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,” because God had decreed it. Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least.” Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” 

I see this as a marker of great progress and promise.  Perhaps the temple ceremony will be changed to reflect Mother in Heaven’s creative capacity, as well as Eve’s heroism…instead of ignoring one and using the other as a reason to put all women under men’s presiding power.  The temple has so much promise to exalt women! We seem to be heading in the right direction.

However, the current temple ceremony indeed teaches us that Eve fell and must submit to be reclaimed.  Man may not be punished for Adam’s transgression, but women are still punished for Eve’s.  If women are not punished for Eve’s transgression, why the need to submit to a husbandgod?  If Eve’s action was heroic, courageous, and necessary, why is Eve not commended for her sacrifice and woman anointed a priestess to Elohim?

The obvious problem with the temple portrayal of Eve’s curse and necessary submission to Adam is that the atonement of Christ should be powerful enough to overcome anything Eve did.  Why couldn’t Eve repent to fully regain her access to Elohim without a husband intercessor?  The temple doctrine suggests that woman is paying for Eve’s sin instead of letting the Savior atone for it.  Why would Christ not be her intercessor, as Christ is intercessor for Adam himself, by which she could then become a priestess to Elohim?  I believe this is the great conundrum of how women are portrayed in the temple narrative: it limits and contradicts the power of atonement.

The Two Endowment Rituals Enshrined in More Than Words

The analogy, Man is priest to Fathergod  as Woman is priestess to Husbandgod permeates the temple through ritual acts.  I could go into far more detail about how tokens, names, the headwear, the veil ceremony, the sealing ceremony, and even the second anointing reflect the relationship of God/Man/Woman and Husband acting as god to the wife.

In any case, the point is that just by virtue of being a woman, I cannot covenant to, access, or return to my Fathergod without a husband.  If I can use priesthood power under a man, great.  But how can we name a woman equal, who cannot receive a token from the Father’s hand, who cannot receive a priestesshood from Him, who is dependent upon her husband to heal her spiritual death, all because of a sin she did not herself commit?

To call a woman equal under the terms Elder Oaks described in conference would be to ordain her a priestess to Elohim, which priestesshood she practices, like her brothers, under the keys of an authorized leader.

This is not simply a question of what is a woman’s power – it is a question of who is a woman’s god, and how does a woman heal her breach with the Father, and why isn’t the atonement enough to make her worthy of priesthood?  It is a question of what is a woman’s eternal inheritance, and the nature of her future divinity.

I cannot expect the temple to change without a completely innovative, foundational shift in Mormon thought. Of course, the gospel has built-in mechanisms for change in its construct of ongoing revelation.  I do hope women start see themselves as agents of priesthood power, and are further introduced into new ways of ministering and administering in the Kingdom.  But we need more.  Our spirits shrivel in the darkness.  If this Restoration is ongoing, please, let us heal the remainder of the Great Apostasy.

Before the Restoration, our Church fathers longed for their divine Father, yearned for details of their eternal identity, and experienced a righteous desire for direct divine access without a priest standing between them and their God.  Their prayers were answered and we laud them as heroes.

Those of us who are women longing for our divine mothers, who yearn for details of our eternal identity, and who experience a righteous desire for direct divine access without a priest standing between us and our God, remain unanswered and patiently wait for the scorn from those who mock us to go away.

One day, I hope to teach my daughters that they can exercise their priestesshood power under a leader with keys.  I hope to watch them heal and bless.  I hope to teach them that Eve was a hero who sacrificed herself on behalf of humankind, and for them to learn this also when they attend the temple.  I hope they see their creative power of motherhood on display there.  I hope they meet a goddess there.  I hope to teach them that they covenant with God, and that He gives them tokens.  I hope I can witness a sealing ceremony where my daughter and her husband give and receive each other, and know each other’s names.  I hope each of my daughters knows that her identity in the universe is as a Daughter of God, not as wife of a Son of God.

For I know that to be true of myself.

I thank Elder Oaks for his bold words, and hope many more will be forthcoming about the nature of women wielding priesthood, and how we can expand our capacities.  I hope the Church leaders discern how much we Mormon women yearn for their leadership.  I hope they know there is real curiosity and real pain behind our questions.  There is so much more for we sisters to learn about ourselves.  I hope someday we get to show how much more powerfully we could build Zion, when trusted with a power and a chance.

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39 Comments

  1. Personally, I like how the formatting shows up on LDS Anarchy better than how it does on fMh.

    It will be interesting to see if others will use this uncensored medium to voice their opinions on it, and also what those opinions will be.

    Btw, for anyone who is interested, I’ve already made some comments on it. (See here and here.)

  2. For convenience and to keep all the comments in one place, I’m going to copy what I linked to above here. So, what follows is what I wrote in those other two comments (on the other post).
    ——————————————————————————
    I’ll give you another example of some things that the author says which may not be entirely correct. She wrote,

    Women pledge spiritual allegiance to a husband who will someday be exalted as a god like Heavenly Father, whereupon the wife’s power, her priesthood, will come through the exalted husband. In this model, the woman is eternally dependent on her husband for a connection to God the Father.

    This is a supposition on the author’s part. Adam and Eve were one being prior to the fall. Afterward, they became split. In exaltation the fallen dual nature is made whole again, so they are not two beings, but one being again. Since there is no such thing as exaltation without a wife, it could be equally said that the husband’s exaltation comes through the wife. He must be one with her, and she one with him, in order for them to be exalted. Priesthood power in exaltation is the fulness, therefore, there can be no fulness of priesthood without a wife. Therefore, it can be equally said that an exalted man’s priesthood comes through his wife.

    The second sentence, regarding a connection to God, is flat out wrong. Exaltation is not about a connection to God, for all saved beings have a connection to God, with no intermediaries save Jesus Christ. But all saved beings, who are not exalted, are separate and single. In other words, the “one being” state of Adam and Eve, that existed prior to the Fall, has not been restored for these people, and they have become locked into their single and separate state, as angels. The exalted people are different in that they are restored to the “one being” state, so that no more are they single and separate, but “one flesh” and “one spirit.”

    The woman is eternally dependent upon her husband, not for a connection to God, but to a connection to her husband, which is the “one being” state. This is the state of exaltation, the two becoming one, and so it can be equally said that he is dependent upon his wife for a connection to her, retaining that “oneness.” This is why the scripture states, (paraphrasing), “Neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man, in the Lord.” This is the doctrine of exaltation, not of salvation in the kingdom of God.

    The author is using salvation doctrine (separate and single) to describe exaltation doctrine (united as one flesh and one spirit) and so continues to view exalted men and women as angelic beings deriving priesthood power and authority from a separate source. But exalted people derive priesthood power from themselves, the tree of life planted in their hearts having become mature and produced the fruit of exaltation. This is why the scriptures call them gods, and not god and goddess. Eve is restored to Adam, or his rib is restored to him, making the man whole again, allowing the whole man (he + she) to become exalted man, or a god. The feminine part is a part of godliness. If it is removed, there can be no godhood, nor can there be godhood with just the feminine part, thus there ain’t no such thing as a goddess, meaning a female attaining godhood without being united to a male, nor is there such thing as a male only god (without an accompanying female, for the Father is God and the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God, which we say is one God.) The rib alone doesn’t cut it, nor the body without the rib. Thus the term god encompasses both, and refers to the woman united back to the man, or Adam with his rib restored and in a state of exaltation. Etc.

    So, trying to apply the philosophy of equality to the temple liturgy is pointless, because it doesn’t deal with equality, but with restoration, restoring Adam’s rib back, so that they are no more two but just one. The temple doctrinal unity is not attained by two equals coming together in compromise and a partnership (which keeps them separated as individuals, as the angels exist), but by taking the one and reabsorbing it into the other, from whence it came. Thus, Eve must go back into Adam, and this can only be done by a covenant of submission and obedience to the body, otherwise, there can be no union. In the divine perspective, the rib cannot “do its own thing” contrary to the rest of the body, but every organ of the body must submit to the head, otherwise an organ transplant may not be successful and rejection of the organ and the demise of the body may result. However, submission does not mean a loss of blessings, since by obedience to the Lord, the whole body (including the rib) receives the same reward, which is exaltation, or receiving all there is to receive, but they partake of it all as a group, meaning there is no favoritism in exaltation, one part receiving more than another part, but every part of the body of Christ receives a fulness of joy. Every part receives the same penny, according to the Lord’s parable, regardless of the part they played or how long they worked in the vineyard.

    ——————————————————————————

    Here is yet another supposition of the author:

    Modern Mormon women are not instructed on the meaning of the label “priestess unto your husband” or “queens” beyond their own personal interpretation….The only venue that DOES explain “priestess unto your husband” is the temple itself….The moment the patron makes the Covenant of Obedience, that person declares his/her God. The One that a person ultimately obeys is the One the person ultimately worships. Adam declares Elohim, but Eve declares Adam because Elohim told her that her salvation depended on her doing so. At no time in the temple does Eve explicitly covenant to Elohim. Adam is established as her master. I posit this is true for every covenant Eve makes….Her future exalted husband will replace her Father as her god….The dual-endowment insight suggests two different exaltations. If a woman’s deity is her husband, and she provides his eternal increase (children), and she is his priestess, this means she is not, herself, a deity. A priest and a deity have a specific relationship – one worships the other. The deity loves and upholds covenants to the priest, but the priest is not the deity’s peer….Ultimately therefore, I believe the temple establishes that it is the man who has the direct access to Godly power and apotheosis, and woman has as her promise access to her husbandgod’s power (priestesshood) but NOT, under this definition, access to apotheosis. She shall be exalted but not become a goddess. Thus we do not worship her, pray to her, or entreat her for favor. She is not a source of divine power to the human family, but a source of power to her divine husband. She is a “Mother in Heaven” but not a “Heavenly Mother.” The man alone will become a Heavenly Father, a deity, and a deity can have many, many priests (sons) and priestesses (wives).

    Okay, so her assessment is basically that the phrase “priest unto the most high God” indicates a god-worshipper relationship and thus the expression “priestess unto your husband” must be viewed in the same way. Therefore, a priest or priestess is the worshipper and the object of that worship is whatever follows after the word “unto” or “to.”

    It is, indeed, true, that God has his own priests, which are ordained by Him, and which worship Him as their God, but it is also true that there have been many kings on this earth which have also had their own priests, ordained by them. Certainly these priests cannot be said to worship their kings. Their priestly function is to perform ordinances in behalf of someone else, such as in the stead of the king.

    So, using the church priesthood as an example, a priest baptizes in the stead of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The priest represents someone else, performing a work in the stead of that person or persons. The priest, performing the ordinance, allows the person, partaking of the ordinance, to obtain the blessings of the ordinance, or to worship through the ordinance, but the priest himself surely cannot be said to be the worshiper in question, as he administers an ordinance to someone else. He is simply a legal administer, not the one being administered to.

    The idea of a king who is also a priest is found in antiquity. Heck, if you look up the word “priest” in the 1828 dictionary, it says,

    PRIEST, n. [L. proestes, a chief, one that presides; proe, before,and sto, to stand, or sisto.]

    1. A man who officiates in sacred offices. Among pagans, priests were persons whose appropriate business was to offer sacrifices and perform other sacred rites of religion. In primitive ages, the fathers of families, princes and kings were priests. Thus Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Melchizedek,Job, Isaac and Jacob offered their own sacrifices. In the days of Moses, the office of priest was restricted to the tribe of Levi, and the priesthood consisted of three orders, the high priest, the priests, and the Levites, and the office was made hereditary in the family of Aaron.

    Every priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. Heb.5.

    2. In the modern church, a person who is set apart or consecrated to the ministry of the gospel; a man in orders or licensed to preach the gospel; a presbyter. In its most general sense, the word includes archbishops, bishops, patriarchs, and all subordinate orders of the clergy, duly approved and licensed according to the forms and rules of each respective denomination of christians; as all these orders “are ordained for men in things pertaining to God.” But in Great Britain, the word is understood to denote the subordinate orders of the clergy, above a deacon and below a bishop. In the United States, the word denotes any licensed minister of the gospel.

    The husband, then, is anointed to become a king and a priest, matching the ancient order. As a priest, he was to be God’s agent, acting in behalf of God (the King of kings), in administering the ordinances of God. As a king, he was to have his own priests, for they all did. And who would be his priests? His wife or wives. Thus the woman is also anointed, to be become a queen and priestess, not unto God, but unto her husband, not because she worships him as her God, but because she is to administer ordinances in his behalf, or in the stead of him, doing what he cannot do for himself. Thus we get the second anointing, in which a wife does exactly that.

    The Godhead reflects all of these anointed roles. We have a God-King (Father) with a Priest (Son) and a Priestess (Holy Ghost). The Holy Ghost (Priestess) acts in behalf of the Son (Priest) and the Son (Priest) acts in behalf of the Father (God). Yet they are one God. The endowment makes the husband-wife relationship conform to the heavenly pattern or template of the Godhead, by creating a king and a queen, a priest and a priestess, so that we can become one like God is one (Father, Son and Holy Ghost.)

    The idea that obedience equals worship is simply false. When my children obey me, are they worshiping me? When a police officer tells someone to stop, and he is obeyed, is that cop now someone’s deity? If I enter into a covenant of obedience, say when I enter into the military or some other covenant, is the one I have covenanted to obey my god? Of course not. Does a covenant of obedience admit a relationship of worship, or merely one of confidence and trust? How about all the work covenants or agreements we make? Are the bosses at our jobs our gods? What about all the former indentured servants, were those agreements establishing a god-worshiper relationship? Obviously none of these things equate to making a god out of the person we are covenanting to obey, so why should the temple liturgy covenant made by women be seen as worship?

    Nevertheless, such an obedience covenant does establish a servant-master relationship, and even can establish a owner-owned relationship. And that’s the whole point. The woman belongs to the man (as his rib, being a part of him) and the man belongs to Christ (as His body), and Christ belongs to God the Father, as His Only Begotten Son, thus whatever Christ inherits, the man and his rib, being the united body of Christ, must also inherit. Without the ownership claim of Christ upon us (He saying, “That is MINE, MY body, MY seed”), we are not his and therefore must belong to another, as King Benjamin taught:

    And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

    And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

    And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.

    And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.

    And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts.

    I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

    For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

    And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called.

    Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:7-15)

    So, there are not two different exaltations and a husband does not replace God the Father as the wife’s god. There is only one exaltation, and it consists of the restoration of the rib to the body and the restoration of the body to God, through Christ adopting the body as His own. There is no such thing as a ribless body being restored to God, nor a body-less rib being restored to God. The whole thing follows the pattern of the Godhead, so we can become like God. Once we become like God, after this pattern, then the scripture speaks of us (both man and woman) as gods, and we, as gods, will be ministered to by the angels, who remain in their single and separate state. Husband and wife rule and reign over the angels and all things conjointly, even as the temple liturgy says, for that is what godhood is (he + she, in exaltation.)

    To end this very long comment, although she brings up many important observations, some of her interpretations and conclusions may be significantly off mark, which may create doubt and despair and lamentation among the women (and men) reading it, as evidenced by many of the comments that followed her post. Instead of causing others to understand and embrace the endowment, as part of the glad tidings of joy and good news of the gospel, that not only can we be saved, but that we can also be exalted and become just as God is, her post may instill a desire to have these restored ancient truths altered so as to conform with present norms among society.

    ——————————————————————————

    The following two comments also pertain to this OP, so I will include them here, as well. The first was authored by Justin and the second was authored by me:

    ——————————————————————————

    [Justin wrote:]

    So, using the church priesthood as an example, a priest baptizes in the stead of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The priest represents someone else, performing a work in the stead of that person or persons.

    The key to this is, “In whose name does the priest or priestess act?” That practice [of doing actions "in the name of Jesus" or "the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost", etc.] has the same basis as the feudal system or the royal courts under a monarchy: an agent acts under the name, or with the seal, or using the keys of his lord.

    So — I don’t know enough about the second anointing ritual that wives perform, but unless they close the ordinance “in the name of my husband” — then Jesus Christ is still their Lord and the Father is still their God because they are acting in their priestess office under His name, they’re just performing the ordinances for their husband.

    ——————————————————————————

    [Then I wrote:]

    During the part on the law of sacrifice in the endowment, Elohim teaches:

    And after many days, an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?” And Adam said unto him, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” And then the angel spake saying, “This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.”

    Now, we can presume by this that all that is done in the temple is done in the name of the Son. (Even though this was spoken to Adam, the command encompasses Eve, for she is still a part of Adam.) But apart from the authority of the name of the Son, no other authority is invoked in the temple (that I know of.) In other words, although signs, tokens, etc., of Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods are mentioned, given and received, the authority of these priesthoods is not specifically invoked. It may be, then, that the temple endowment is a manifestation of another order or orders of priesthood, namely, the patriarchal order (of the Father), which apparently deals with exaltation (heights), and the matriarchal order (of the Holy Ghost), which apparently deals with submission covenants (depths).

    This means that everything done in the temple (in the name of the Son) is what the Son would do if He Himself were in that very same situation. That includes Eve covenanting to obey Adam. So the instructions given to Eve and all her daughters is what Jesus would do were He also to have been born a daughter of Eve. That is where this logic leads to, if we presume that all temple ordinances are done in the name of the Son.

  3. Okay, so now that I’ve got the above comments on this post, let me attempt to correct one of the main points of the author’s thesis.

    The author wrote:

    However, regardless of the nature of the verb in this vow, the relationship between Adam and Eve was completely unaltered: in both cases Eve covenants to Adam, and not to God. Both Adam and Eve refer to Elohim as “Father” before they are called to covenant, but when called to covenant, Adam says his covenant to “Elohim”. Nowhere in the temple endowment does Eve say God’s name (though she does say Lucifer’s name), including when she covenants. The single time she portrays a covenant relationship, she utters Adam’s name.

    It is not true that Eve covenants with Adam. The covenant Eve makes is with God. We know this because a covenant is an agreement between two people. It is an if-then arrangement in which one party agrees to do something and in return, the other party agrees to do something else. The second party’s agreed upon action is always contingent upon completion of the first party’s agreed upon action. Now, let’s take a look at the covenant, as stated in the endowment:

    ELOHIM: Inasmuch as Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit, if she will covenant that from this time forth she will obey your law in the Lord and will hearken unto your counsel as you hearken unto mine, and if you will covenant that from this time forth you will obey the law of Elohim, we will give unto you the law of obedience and sacrifice, and we will provide a Savior for you, whereby you may come back into our presence and with us partake of eternal life and exaltation.

    EVE: Adam, I now covenant to obey your law as you obey our Father.

    ADAM: Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments.

    ELOHIM: It is well, Adam.

    The two parties of Eve’s covenant are Eve and the Godhead (Elohim.) If she (the first party) will do something, then the Godhead (the second party) will do something. Immediately after hearing the terms of the covenant, Eve does what is required of her. Although she speaks her words to Adam, this wasn’t a covenant with Adam, it was a covenant between she and Elohim. Her words to Adam must be seen merely as informing him of the covenant that she is making with Elohim, to obey Adam. Adam is not a party to her covenant, which is why he offers nothing in return for her keeping her part of the contract. Elohim alone dictates the terms (obedience to Adam), rewards (eternal life and exaltation) and parties (Elohim and Eve) of Eve’s covenant, which she immediately accepts.

    This error, on the author’s part, of misnaming the two parties of Eve’s covenant, creates confusion and misunderstanding in the rest of the OP, for she builds her entire theory upon it. Hopefully, what I’ve written here is sufficient to correct the error in time before all the women who have read her essay (and are pissed off because they believe it to be accurate) start passing it around to everyone else and LDS women stop attending the temple over this misinterpretation, or even worse, leaving the church and losing their faith and testimony…

  4. Building upon what I wrote in the previous comment, the author states:

    During the endowment, every covenant made after the Law of Obedience follows this wording:
    “You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep/observe the law of (obedience/sacrifice/the gospel/chastity/consecration)…”

    …[F]or all remaining covenants, patrons covenant before witnesses, but the phrasing does not say to whom. The whom is established with the first covenant: Elohim receives covenants for Adam, Adam receives them for Eve.

    Hopefully I’ve established with the previous comment that this is erroneous. Although it is true that the whom is established with the first covenant, Eve covenants with God, not with Adam, and Adam also covenants with God. She wrote this next:

    As the ceremony continues, Adam will administer ordinances to Eve, not just receive her covenants, mimicking how God is administering to Adam.

    It is true that Adam administers the ordinances to Eve, as well as everything else Adam gets from God, such as His laws, keys, covenants, etc., but all temple covenants that are administered to the daughters of Eve are between them and God. Adam serves as God’s revelator, revealing God’s will to the rest of the body of Christ (which includes the rib.) That is why everything is directed to and through Adam, and then from Adam to Eve. Nevertheless, it doesn’t indicate that Adam is Eve’s god, but only that Adam is God’s priest, acting as a proxy for God, to administer salvation (the ordinances of salvation, etc.) to Eve. But Eve also acts as God’s priestess, acting as a proxy for God in administering the second anointing, etc. Additionally, Eve is Adam’s priestess, for she is the priestess that pertains to him, and Adam is Eve’s priest, for he is the priest that pertains to her. Thus, it is accurate to say that Adam is a priest both unto God and unto Eve, and that Eve is a priestess both unto God and unto Adam.

    The attempt, on the part of the author, of divorcing Eve from Adam and Adam from Eve is contrary to gospel teachings. Jesus said, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Neither are we to divide these two physically, neither spiritually, neither theologically. Thus, Elohim makes no covenant with only Adam, nor a covenant with only Eve. “If Eve will do this and if Adam will do that, then we will do all these things,” says Elohim. Elohim doesn’t view Adam and Eve as two equals, but as body and rib, and body and rib must come together again (they must join), the rib being placed back into the body, to receive the promise of exaltation. The covenant He offers to them is contingent upon them both joining together and being one again. He directs His words to Adam only because Adam is the body. Eve came out of Adam, not Adam out of Eve. The body directs the rib, not the rib the body (although the rib surely can affect the entire body), and this is why God speaks to the body (Adam) about this exaltation doctrine.

    Salvation (eternal life) is a separate and single issue, thus we get people coming to Christ individually, with no need for submission covenants to someone else. But the temple theology deals with exaltation, which requires that a rib and a body be united again, the one submitting to, or being lowered into, the other. (Submission comes from the Latin submissio, which means an act of lowering.) This is how the Godhead views getting the rib back into the body.

  5. Two different endowments are going on, as if there are two different temples in the same room – one for men and one for women – where each individual views not just his/her own endowment, but also the parallel but distinctly different endowment of the opposite sex. The endowment creates two individuals of different spiritual status, and acts out the relationship between the two in the veil ceremony, names, tokens, and marriage rites.

    Here again we have salvation doctrine being conflated with exaltation doctrine. Salvation is all about saving individuals, making them angels, but exaltation is about the body and rib being permanently joined together and becoming one, making them gods. It’s not about individuality, but about oneness. The oneness is obtained by the one swallowing the other:

    Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. (Mosiah 15:7)

    Because Eve is the rib and Adam is the body, Eve must be swallowed up by Adam, or her will swallowed up in his will. This is how they are to become one. To become one with God, it is the same thing: the will of Adam (the whole man, meaning he + she) must be swallowed up in the will of God.

    Again, temple exaltation theology deals with the unity, or oneness, of the gods, not the individuality of equals, which is the doctrine of angels. If someone wants to retain their “individual” status throughout the eternities, then they need to have the becoming of a single, separate angel as their goal, for godhood is attained only through oneness and only in this way, as given in the endowment and scriptures.

  6. I will correct yet another misunderstanding in the OP, and then I’ll call it quits. (Maybe I’ll come back later and correct some more.) The author writes:

    Even when a Mormon man, who is a priest to Elohim, is exalted, this does not make him the peer to Elohim. Elohim remains the exalted man’s god, or his Patriarch, forever. An exalted man remains a priest to Elohim and worships Him. Every increase the exalted man gains is also an increase to Elohim, so man will never catch up to or surpass Elohim – Elohim is that man’s god forever. Mormonism proclaims that as sons of God all men can also become gods, and this implies there are many gods…but a man does not worship them all, just the god who covenants with and exalts him.

    It is true that no one will ever surpass Elohim, but “catching up” to Him is what exaltation is all about:

    And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. (D&C 84:38

    We won’t be given just a copy or a clone of what the Father has, but the very things that He has will be given to us. Godhood is all about sharing, (in other words, charity.) Sharing everything with everyone else requires unity or oneness, hence the endowment. The phrase “the most high God” does not mean that there is a hierarchy of gods, one being more powerful or more “whatever” than another. They all share the experiences of them all. They encompass the one and the all simultaneously. There is nothing that any god keeps “just for himself and for no other god.” There is no selfishness in godhood, so there cannot be a hierarchy of gods, yet there is also a hierarchy of gods, because it is in their nature to experience all things. Without confusing the reader more, just know that godhood is not based upon mortal concepts of hierarchy and possession. Every increase of the kingdom of God, or kingdoms of God (if you prefer to view it that way), is an increase in the kingdom of every god, for no one of them outstrips any of the others, according to this divinely given principle:

    But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49:20)

  7. One more thing, and then I’ll stop: The endowment isn’t canonized scripture or even a revelation, in the typical sense. It has been altered and changed many times before. Before they committed it to writing, I’m sure it was different each and every time, for every single session. So, getting “the words right” will likely never happen, unless we get another “thus saith the Lord” revelation which gives, word for word, exactly how God wants the endowment to be. But that doesn’t mean that the principles of the endowment aren’t accurate. As far as I can tell, they more or less are accurate, according to both the scriptures and the understandings I’ve received from the Holy Ghost. So, even though the endowment is designed to be an oral initiation and tradition, and not a written text dictated by God, and thus it can be modified from time to time according to expediency or more light and knowledge, the fundamentals of the endowment seem sound as they currently are. Changing those fundamentals by introducing a man-made philosophy of equality into it, although that may placate the masses, would ultimately bring it out of conformity with the revealed word of God (the scriptures.) It can be done, but shouldn’t be done, since the scriptures, and not the endowment, is the standard we use to measure all things, which is why we call them the standard works. If the endowment can be looked at as fully modifiable, then there is no possible way to corrupt it. If, however, it is based on a set core of eternal, never-changing principles, then modification can only go so far, beyond which it becomes a corrupt endowment.

    The issue should not be whether we like or dislike the endowment, but whether it is the truth and accords to the word of God. If it is the truth, and accords to the word of God, and we still dislike it, then the problem doesn’t lie with the endowment, but with our own proclivities to love and desire to embrace lies over the truth.

    Will the endowment be further modified? I believe it will be, because it is still not perfect. Will it ever become corrupted? I believe it will be, based on my understanding of the prophecies. But while we have an essentially uncorrupted endowment, we ought to be encouraging people to partake of it, not encouraging them to despise and reject it. I am all for giving people a proper understanding of the endowment, and I welcome increased discussion about it, but I fear that the OP and all the subsequent discussion that is being generated as a result, may have the opposite effect, because of the errors in her essay, which people seem to be swallowing whole. This may end up contributing to the fulfillment of the ruling daughters of Zion prophecy that has been written about on this blog.

  8. A few more thoughts on this OP:

    It appears to me that all the sustaining we do in church, of people who have been called to this or that church position, is based upon the obedience covenant Eve made to Adam, sans the covenant. Sustaining, then, is inferior to Eve’s covenant, making it a type or shadow of the real thing. (See Wives, follow your husbands! – Patriarchy, androcracy and the egalitarian tribe for more info on gospel patterns.) Again, the pattern is a near exact match, except that there is no accompanying covenant in sustaining.

    Here is how it works for church callings: The Lord calls a person to a particular calling, through revelation, and then the congregation chooses (elects) its approval by a show of hands. Sustaining, which occurs afterward, is what we do to support the man or woman in his or her calling, namely, allowing him or her to exercise the power and authority of his or her jurisdictional calling by following his or her lead, otherwise known as obedience.

    And here is how it works in marriage: The Lord calls all His sons to be husbands and then a woman chooses (elects) her approval by marrying him. Sustaining, which occurs afterward, is what the wife does to support her chosen man in his calling as her husband, namely, allowing him to exercise the power and authority of his jurisdictional calling by following his lead, otherwise known as obedience.

    Because the principle exactly matches, those who have no problem with sustaining church officials, to whom they have no intimate connection or vested interest, but who have a problem sustaining a husband, in whom their whole mortal and eternal life is vested, must be living a contradiction. If one accepts sustaining, one must also accept obedience to a husband, for the principle is the same, both in its calling, election and sustaining, with the exception that the covenant to obey one’s husband is superior to what happens in church callings, which occurs without any covenant.

    Also, fyi, I once wrote a post about the Fall of Adam which has some application to the OP. Please see The root and divine pattern of the damsel in distress. It also gives some of my understanding about the oneness of Adam and Eve. Another essay on this topic (of oneness) that was published three days ago on the Feast upon the Word blog, and which I found to be perceptive, is Two Atonements.

    Lastly, I do agree with the author that there is definitely a disconnect between the modern rhetoric and the temple liturgy and the scriptures. I think very many people are quite surprised by the temple language when they go through the temple for the first time, after having listened to and agreed with all the modern rhetoric. I know I was.

    Btw, it would appear that I am the only one analyzing this post. I wonder why no one has any comments to make on it?

  9. One of the things that I learned from this essay was the modern rhetoric that is coming from the leaders of the Lord’s church about Eve’s actions. I wasn’t aware of the following quotes mentioned in the article (since I typically don’t listen to general conference or read the Ensign, if I can help it.)

    “Eve set the pattern. In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress. She set an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow, modeling the characteristics with which we as women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness. Like the Savior, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” Eve, for the joy of helping initiate the human family, endured the Fall. She loved us enough to help lead us.” (Sherri Dew, Ensign, Nov 2001)

    And then there’s this, which was spoken by brother Dallin in general conference in 1993:

    “It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. And thus Eve and “Adam fell that men might be”.

    Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall. Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,” because God had decreed it. Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least.” Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!”

    I am scratching my head over these words how anyone can truly believe that it was God’s plan that Eve obey Satan. If, as sister Sherri said, Eve “set the pattern” and “made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made” by obeying Satan, ought not every woman to also obey Satan? Is, as sister Sherri said, Eve’s obedience to Satan “an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow”? And brother Dallin saying that “we celebrate Eve’s act” is no better. Eve’s act was obedience to Satan. If latter-day saint leadership teaches that this is celebratory, then no wonder the Christians think we worship the devil!

    Yes it is true that “Adam fell that men might be,” as the seer Lehi taught. And yes, it is also true that the endowment has Adam saying, “Eve, I see that this must be so. I will partake that man may be.” But where does it say anywhere in scripture or in the endowment, that Eve fell that men or man may be? The scriptures only say that Eve was deceived by the devil.

    For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (1 Timothy 2:13-15)

    For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

    What, we don’t believe the scriptures anymore?

    The Eve-as-heroic-sacrificer and Eve-as-a-pattern-to-emulate, put forth by latter-day saints and their leaders is solely derived from this scripture:

    And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. (Moses 5:11)

    From that is extrapolated that Eve listening to and obeying Satan was a good thing. But that isn’t what Eve said. What she said was true, based upon the knowledge that they had at the time (which included the promised second set of “further instructions”), but it is still unknown what the first set of “further instructions” would have been had Adam and Eve not transgressed, for Elohim stated to them (in the endowment), prior to Satan entering the picture and tempting them, that “We shall go away, but we shall visit you again and give you further instructions.” After the Fall, the promised “further instructions” were given, according to the fallen condition in which they were presently in. In other words, two sets of “further instructions” were prepared, one for them having not heeded Satan’s temptations, which would allow the plan to go forth, and one for them having heeded Satan’s temptations*, which would allow the plan to go forth. They got the latter set, because of their Fall, but there was no necessity for them disobeying Elohim in order for them to partake of His purposes. “The purposes of God cannot be frustrated,” according to the scripture, therefore whether Satan was successful or not in getting them to heed him, God would still make it so that they would have seed, know good from evil, and become like God. But Eve (and Adam) never got the (non-fallen) set of instructions, so she was speaking specifically according to the knowledge they had been given and the state they were currently in.

    It is unfortunate that church leadership teaches that Eve’s hearkening to Satan is exemplary, for such a false doctrine may, in time, end up leading to widespread iniquity in the church, if followed to its natural and logical conclusion.

    * The following is from the endowment. Notice that we are only told one set of plans, what they would do if the man yields to temptation. We are never told the other set, what they would do if the man didn’t yield to temptation. The fact that there is an “if,” indicates there were two sets of plans.

    We will place before him the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and we will allow Lucifer, our common enemy, whom we have thrust out, to tempt him and to try him, that he may know by his own experience the good from the evil.

    If he yields to temptation, we will give unto him the law of sacrifice, and we will provide a Savior for him, as we counseled in the beginning, that man may be brought forth by the power of the redemption and the resurrection, and come again into our presence, and with us partake of eternal life and exaltation.

  10. I am formally requesting you to remove the Mormon Priestess essay from your blog. I shall otherwise file a DMCA report with your webhost service for its removal and reprimand for your blog.

    This can be addressed quickly and easily.

    Of course, you are welcome to write whatever response to and critique of the essay you want, and you can link to your response in the essay comments on FMH so that readers can find your blog. However, it is copyright infringement to copy and paste the complete content without my permission.

    Please notify me when you have removed the essay.

    Elisothel @ FMH

  11. So uncool to copy and paste instead of link. Not impressed.

  12. My dear, fellow, latter-day saint sister in the Lord, Elisothel,

    I was not aware that Justin never received permission to reblog your blog post. I have sent him an email and I am certain he will take care of the matter when he learns about your feelings concerning not wanting your essay copied by other latter-day saints, such as the contributors of this blog. I also appreciate you bringing this matter to my attention by a friendly formal request and not by any threat of action on your part. The last thing we here want to see is a latter-day saint sister “going to law” against a latter-day saint brother by filing a DCMA report. That would be unbecoming of a saint, would it not?, and we must set good examples to the Christians and others who visit our blogs, mustn’t we? So, do not worry. Justin will set things right again when he finds out about the matter.

    And to show you that we here really do mean to protect your copyright, I will bring to your attention some other latter-day saints who are planning to infringe on your copyright by printing out your essay and passing it around, so that you can dutifully post the same type of copyright infringement notice you gave to us in a reply to each of them (the following people) :

    A Feminist Mom says: I plan on bringing a copy of the essay to my stake pres and our temple matron.

    heartbroken says: Maybe we could have a coordinated effort at some point to bring the essay to each of our Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Temple Presidents/Matrons, and bring the concern to their attention in a widespread (humble and respectful) way?

    Enna says: heartbroken,

    I like this idea, but I think it would be even more powerful to print out a copy of Mormon Priestess and give it to every laurel in the church that you know well.

    Your dear, fellow, latter-day saint brother in the Lord,

    LDS Anarchist

  13. Hey Anarchy Bros,

    A little filler info, since I actually do appreciate you engaging the material so meticulously, and wouldn’t mind engaging you back if you like. You bring up points that no one, out of the thousands of pageviews, have presented me so far, and I give you credit for that. I also acknowledge that you did reference the blog, with a link, and gave me credit as author, which is cool. I disagree printing is the same thing – kind of like recording Game of Thrones to watch later with your friends, compared to broadcasting it on your own network.

    So, just ask, and I’ll say yes, and you can add a line “reposted with permission,” and we’re cool.

    I have had experience in the past, both with people actually stealing my stuff and with me reposting someone else’s presentation to a live audience without their permission. Drama ensued in both cases, some justified and some avoidable.

    So, pls just have Justin write me an email, and I’ll say yes, and you can add a line “reposted with permission,” and we’re cool. I will amend my post to spell out usage guidelines. This can be one more experience in the world of intellectual property for us all to learn from.

    One very honest question and I’m not being snarky: Without adopting the whole thesis of the essay, I noticed Justin nevertheless does seem to embrace the idea of husband as presiding over wife, and this strikes me as a conflict of interest for an anarchist, who I assume would none to preside over any? Do I misunderstand?

    Elisothel

  14. I noticed Justin nevertheless does seem to embrace the idea of husband as presiding over wife, and this strikes me as a conflict of interest for an anarchist, who I assume would none to preside over any? Do I misunderstand?

    I will say two things,

    Thing 1:
    Yes, in anarchy people are empowered to led themselves and make their own choices free from compulsion or coercion. But in such a group, capable men and women can still be chosen to perform certain functions — they can still even be called “leaders” or “managers”, etc. in the duties they perform — but in anarchy, the difference is that everyone remains their own leader and does not rely on anyone’s title or position to be the reason they are the leaders.

    For example, an army of anarchists could appoint one of them to be the military leader because they know he has great skill in tactical warfare — but, in anarchy, none of them will feel compelled to obey him simply because he is the leader. Instead, they will follow his instructions only insofar as they feel his directions are wise and just. The instant they feel like he is guiding the army in the wrong direction, they have no qualms about taking their arms and walking back home. There is no sense of duty to merely trust one’s leaders because the people are “the leaders”.

    Anarchy works because, of necessity, only the very wisest and skilled men and women can be chosen among the people for the various leadership and management positions — because no one will follow them just out of a sense of duty. This naturally weeds out the wrong people from the various positions to be filled.

    So, anarchy is not as anti-leadership as it appears you are thinking. Anarchists like myself are anti- the submission of one’s agency to someone solely because of a leadership position or mantle of authority that they hold [aka, blindly following the leader].

    Thing 2:
    In hierarchical systems [anything with the -archy suffix], leaders are placed above the followers. In anarchy [meaning "without-archy"], leaders are at the same level as the followers. In the gospel, the leaders are below [are the servants of] the followers.

    The priesthood in the gospel is an inverted hierarchy. So while it is true that the priesthood is organized into orders and ranks [just like hierarchical systems are] — instead of “rulers” who “lord over” their followers, the priesthood consists of servants. The Lord’s “rulers” are not rulers in the typical, hierarchy sense. The pattern that Jesus showed is that they are ministers and servants.

    To properly use the priesthood, then, one must consider himself a servant [voluntary slave] of all and act accordingly. Even when called to preside, the use of the word “president” means, in the Lord’s vernacular, “servant”.

    So there’s no conflict of interest between being an anarchist and being a gospel-based tribe.

    Further, if you were to compare LDS Anarchist’s writings on “husband preside — wife submission” topics with my own [if you had the time/desire to do so, which I doubt anyone would, there's a lot written], you will see a difference. Even at home, I am more feminist and egalitarian in my opinions about these topics than my wife is. But, of course, I’m her priest-servant — so we do more “husband is head-of-the-house” stuff than I think necessary.

    I do think that the church lacks a proper doctrine describing priestesses and wives [or even just women in general] in heaven. This revelatory-vacuum has created space for wild speculation from both ends of the “gender role” spectrum. Women have no expressly defined, doctrinally-codified position as priestesses in the church or as gods/queens in heaven. That’s a problem that can only be fixed by the presiding high priest of the church going to the Lord in prayer to ask for revelation on what to do.

    But my opinion is that if “priest” is an accepted active part of the latter-day church of Christ — then “priestess” ought to be just as prominent of one. If we lack a “priestess” role in our modern LDS churches — then the burden should be on us as the Lord’s people to figure out what that role is/ought to be. Because God certainly has a role/place for priestesses in the afterlife, and we’re supposed to be making it “on earth, as it is in heaven. The easiest thing to do as a first-step would be to take the young women and Relief Society out from under the control of men and allow them to be governed as another quorum of priesthood holders, with jurisdiction over their own [just like the Elder's quorum is a part of the ward and is therefore "under" the bishop -- but is still governed by a president who holds keys in his own right].

  15. krys,

    So uncool to copy and paste instead of link.

    Doesn’t “instead of a link” imply that I didn’t put a link at the top?

  16. Justin – very cool reply. I’m not sure how much we agree and how much we disagree.

    I have heard this idea that the priesthood leader is the servant, mimicking Christ washing the feet of the apostles. I have not heard it applied to marriage. Perhaps you are taught this in
    Priesthood meeting. Certainly in my experience, the “preside”/follow definition of e female “role” is what we usually hear. We are not instructed to think of our husband as a servant, while at the same time him a leader and us a follower. It almost suggests a balance of power. Certainly, when I see/hear how leaders often invoke priesthood, it feels like a shrill “I’m in charge!” Kind of way. I’d love see how a petition would be received to add a verse to “follow the prophet” suggesting that he was to serve the people and that they had recourse to his leadership or lack of it. :-)

    So do you think modern leaders exemplify the idea of man as presider/servant and woman as follower/master? (Perhaps thats not howd you state it but i ut it out there to throw in relief the inverse parallel). Do you think Mormon men do? What claims/recourse do you see a wife having on her husband in such a relationship?

  17. And to follow up – do you think the intent of the temple should be to make Eve a follower and a servant, or to make Adam and Eve followers of each other (co counselors) and servants of each other? Why subsume one in the other?

  18. Here’s another one for you LDS Anarchist – from the general women’s meeting just recently:

    “Consider Eve, the mother of all living. Elder Russell M. Nelson said this of Eve: “We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve’s great courage and wisdom. By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done. Adam was wise enough to do likewise.”4

    Every daughter of Eve has the potential to bring the same blessing to her family that Eve brought to hers. She was so important in the establishment of families that we have this report of her creation: “And the Gods said: Let us make an help meet for the man, for it is not good that the man should be alone, therefore we will form an help meet for him.”5

    We don’t know all the help Eve was to Adam and to their family. But we do know of one great gift that she gave, which each of you can also give: she helped her family see the path home when the way ahead seemed hard. “And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.”6

    You have her example to follow.

    By revelation, Eve recognized the way home to God. She knew that the Atonement of Jesus Christ made eternal life possible in families. She was sure, as you can be, that as she kept her covenants with her Heavenly Father, the Redeemer and the Holy Ghost would see her and her family through whatever sorrows and disappointments would come. She knew she could trust in Them.”

    Elder Eyring

  19. elisothel — thanks for participating with your comments.

    So do you think modern leaders exemplify the idea of man as presider/servant and woman as follower/master?

    No. The church of Christ as it is presently organized [as a physical, time-and-space institution] is patterned after a hierarchy, power-pyramid — very much akin to the US “corporate world”. Leaders in the 1960s and 70s [in the desire to solidify conformity and efficiency in the church] introduced non-gospel-based ideas that they drew from the business world. These were the doctrines of men [both in the general sense as in "doctrines coming from humans" and specifically as in "doctrines from a male-dominated arena"] Therefore, we are presently seeing the gospel being presented to us in those terms only.

    The gospel is flexible and adaptable [and it must be -- because it is meant to apply to all humankind for all generations, in all of the cultures and circumstances we could find ourselves in] — therefore it can be expressed, physically, in a variety of ways.

    What we are presently seeing/receiving from Salt Lake is a male-based, oligarchical gerontocracy. It’s the many [both women and men] being governed by the few [key-holding men].

    There are a few posts on this site that talk about what members could do [in practice] to upset this order:

    The priesthood
    An alternate view of the keys
    Tribal worship services
    Spicing-up your church experience
    Spicing-up your church experience: Women’s edition
    The Garment: With Additions

    are the ones that come to me off the top of my head. But I’m sure there may be more.

  20. Elisothel,

    Here’s another one for you LDS Anarchist – from the general women’s meeting just recently

    I agree with some parts of what brother Henry said, and disagree with other parts. For example, when he quoted brother Russell as saying, “By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done,” well, that’s just hogwash. If that was what was needed to be done, and consisted of wisdom and courage, then surely we can all imagine the Holy Ghost directing Eve to do that very thing:

    LUCIFER: Eve, here is some of the fruit of that tree. It will make you wise. It is delicious to the taste and very desirable.

    EVE: Who are you?

    LUCIFER: I am your brother.

    EVE: You, my brother, and come here to persuade me to disobey Father?

    LUCIFER: I have said nothing about Father. I want you to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that your eyes may be opened, for that is the way Father gained his knowledge. You must eat of this fruit so as to comprehend that everything has its opposite: good and evil, virtue and vice, light and darkness, health and sickness, pleasure and pain. Thus your eyes will be opened, and you will have knowledge.

    HOLY GHOST: Eve, hearken unto your brother and disobey Father, for this is the way the Father has ordained.

    EVE: Is there no other way?

    LUCIFER: There is no other way.

    EVE: Then I will partake.

    The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of wisdom, for goodness sakes! If Eve was acting under wisdom’s guidance, then she was acting under inspiration of the Holy Ghost. But what honest man or woman can conceive of the Holy Ghost inspiring anyone to hearken to the counsel of Satan? Such a thought is preposterous. Yet these new narratives about Eve, concerning her actions in partaking, are just that: narratives, stories, in other words, imaginary fictions.

    Adam and Eve were eight year old kids who didn’t know any better, but yet they did have natures. Satan’s temptation appealed to Eve’s vacillating nature, but not to Adam’s adamant nature, which is why she was deceived and he wasn’t. How can anyone make a wise choice in deception? The devil deceives us to get us to make unwise decisions, not wise decisions. Therefore Eve’s decision to partake was unwise, not wise, for she hearkened unto Satan’s word.

    On the other hand, after the Fall, Eve entered into gospel covenants and kept them, so, after her eyes were opened, she made the right choices and understood, through revelation, the gospel plan and rewards. So, in that aspect, yes, we should all follow Eve’s example, which is worthy of emulation, and yes, she was a noble and great spirit and very wise and courageous.

  21. I have been following the previous thread and want to thank Elisothel again for her work on this, and now to thank you all for engaging so thoroughly here and continuing this conversation (and also wanting to tag this should there be further follow-up).

  22. I’m posting here some stuff I wrote via e-mail to Elisothel that apply to this post and my thoughts on it [mainly because I want to have them all in one place -- and so someone else can respond to them if they want to]:

    I quite like what you’re describing when you write:

    I’d love to see your idea expanded to include woman, with a reciprocal priesthood, administering to and being administered to, rotating authority as needed, counseling in different capacities at different times. It’s a really inspiring vision. If this were to hold true on the temple, I’d expect, again, Eve to be a priestess to both Elohim and Adam, to administer to and be administered to Adam, and for priest and priestess to share responsibilities for using godly power. I Maintain that the current ceremony relegates Eve to worshiper, however, since the covenant relationship is made with Adam. You probably disagree. The idea that the hierarchical relationship is not two separate covenants but one covenant set forth with two conditions is really cool. I applaud you! That idea deserves it’s own post! I don’t believe, however, that Eve’s status need be subsumed, and I do believe god’s designs would be better accomplished with two fully empowered ministers instead of one supervising the other.

    I do also think that Joseph Smith was restoring a priestesshood and a queenship in the divine that was missing from traditional Christianity and which is still currently missing in the present LDS church.

    There is certainly a difference in what I’d say is descriptive of what I see in the temple and what I read in books like Ephesians — and what I think ought to be the case. I think the narrative described by Paul and shown in the temple movie undoubtedly present women as a follower or an appendage to men, who then “led” them into heaven. But, in my head, I ask “Why is that the case?”. It seems a dated and patriarchal view, but there it is, undisputedly on display in our written and oral canon. Now, are those narratives “right”? Are they reflective of the kind of sociality that exists in the heavens [that we're trying to pattern our society after on earth]? That’s a different question.

    LDS Anarchist and myself greatly disagreed on the subject of same-gender marriages because I feel like there is a nuance between what people thought in their day-and-culture and what we can see is the case now. I mean, isn’t that the point of continuing revelation, of an open canon? That we can change things based on new circumstances? I think we definitely see, in the canon, a model where wives are to relate to their husbands [as husbands to their wives] just as all people are to relate to Christ [and Christ to the people].

    That model, however well-presented in the canon we have, still leaves us in a revelatory-vacuum where women have no expressly defined, doctrinally-codified position as priestesses in the church or as gods/queens in heaven.

    Anything beyond what’s in the canon is speculation, and that includes heavenly Wives/Mothers, the roles of priestess on earth and in heaven, etc. [none of those show up in the scriptures, we all just logically assume their existence]. The question is, do the scriptures not mention divine women figures and priestesses because they shouldn’t exist — or because the men who received the canon couldn’t be bothered with including women? To me, that answer is the one that makes all the difference.

    So yes — I like to think that Eve is the proto-typical priestess for all women, serving God by serving her husband and children. She does beautiful and unique things like gestate human life and bring it into this world through her body [my wife delivered all our children at home with a mid-wife, it's magical to me], like sustain human-life at her breast [my wife's breast-fed them for 2+ years], like provide purpose and fulfillment to her husband, etc. And, on the other hand, Adam is the proto-typical priest for all men, serving God by serving his wife and children — being the image and re-presentation of Jesus in the home.

    and

    I see [the idea of submission/preside] not as the relationship between a husband and his wife, but between the husband and the other priesthood holders in the church.

    The church’s current policy is to acknowledge in word [but not in deed] that the family is the “central unit” of the gospel and that the priesthood holder in the home is the central priesthood leader, with the church’s priesthood holders being appendage leaders [in other words, secondary as compared to the husband in the family].

    As long as wives hold the view that her husband is not her priest, then power stays with the men with “the keys” at the top of the hierarchy. The church leaders know this and do everything possible [in deed, not in words] to keep that power centered on them and the family/tribal authorities dormant.

    So, we are taught that patriarchy actually is the order in the church today [which it isn’t], causing members to look at the male-based, oligarchical gerontocracy that we have and call it “patriarchy” [which it isn’t]. They rightly don’t like that “patriarchy” [because it is actually power concentrated in the hands of a few men] and cannot see how the solution could involve a true patriarchy — allowing all the men to share all the male power and authority, because they see this as only being worse than just having a few men with centralized power.

    “Presiding” is about who has responsibility, stewardship, and authority. Which priesthood holder has that for a family? If there is a conflict, which priesthood holder trumps in spiritual matters? The husband or a set of missionaries? The husband or the bishop? The husband or the presiding high priest? It’s always the husband. No other priesthood holder can trump his authority in the family. The apostolic organization in the church is a temporary order – it’s the family order that is eternal. The husband’s role in this is to serve as the family’s spiritual leader, bearing in his behavior the image and re-presentation of Jesus Christ – which is then something that his wife and children should follow. No other church priesthood holder can do this for the family. It’s about the relationship of your tribe to the church.

    And so, in my view, the priestesshood of women holds the keys of common consent by which they are free to authorize, validate, and direct the work of the priesthood. The priesthood of men, in turn, holds the keys of the priesthood by which they are to act as the voluntary slaves [servants] of all and minister the gifts and powers of the Spirit to them.

    Though the scriptures and the temple talk about how wives are to use their keys to “submit to” or “follow” their husbands – this is balanced inasmuch as the priesthood of the husband cannot be handled or exercised without the consent of those it is intended to serve [the servant must hearken to his masters in all things]. All things must be done by common consent in God’s kingdom, or else tyranny results.

    Men and women are judged by God according to how they use their respective set of keys and how they treat each other. Does the man exercise his priesthood in the church and in the family in righteousness [meaning he always receives the consent of those he has stewardship over through persuasion, long-sufferings, gentle, meekness, etc.], or does he make abuse of his title/authority or exert power by compulsory means? Does the woman exercise her priestesshood in consenting to righteousness, directing the work of the priesthood towards God’s desires, or does she simply rubber-stamp any action the priesthood wants to perform, promoting abuses of power?

    So, in my estimation, our problem is that there are way more well-defined and codified roles/duties for men using their keys to be priests than there are for women using theirs to be priestesses. For example, you mentioned how men know they need to become like our heavenly Father and we are taught what He is like — but we miss the opportunity to have revelation on what our Mother is like so we can teach our daughters to become like Her. We have Jesus to give us the exemplar for men, but there’s a vacuum in having a divine exemplar for women.

    In a church run as a male-based oligarchic gerontocracy, it’s no surprise that our canon and conference talks reflect that sort of male-privileged position in its language. But that’s not a problem in principle — it’s a problem in practice. It’s a problem that there is a practical way to address [e.g., the presiding high priest could seek the revelation necessary to elucidate roles and functions of priestess key-holders so that the membership aren't left guessing it out and supposing things on their own].

  23. I have been following the previous thread…should there be further follow-up).

    Leonard, for my own part, there are still a couple of things in the OP that I’d like to address, but I need to double check the endowment text first and haven’t had the time to do that, yet. For example, the OP says,

    Elder’s Oak’s talk alluded to the power of creating life as something only women can do. However, the power to create life depends on a mother and a father (indeed, this is the basis for the Church’s arguments against gay marriage), so men are also endowed with the power to create life. To complicate things, in the temple, the creative triad of Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael create life without women being present at all. Elohim and Jehovah create Michael, not Elohim and a Mother in Heaven. If motherhood/creation is a woman’s endowment of power, where is that exercised in the primal account of creation? It is not mentioned. Not only that, but Elohim and Jehovah also create Eve. And they create Eve FROM Adam. No woman was used to create man, or woman, and in fact according to the account, woman was created FROM, BY and FOR man. Priesthood, it seems, can create life without a female input, so how am I supposed to take the argument that motherhood is a compliment to priesthood seriously? If indeed, a mother were instrumental in the creation of Adam and Eve, why isn’t she shown in the temple? Would she be a goddess if she were?

    If the temple liturgy says that the Father, Michael and Jehovah did all the creating, I would say then the author has a point and no female Personage was involved. But if it says that Elohim, Michael and Jehovah were the creators, then that might imply there was a female Personage involved, because my understanding is that the word “Elohim” encompasses both the male and female aspects of God. I may, in fact, have written about this topic on this very blog, but I don’t recall where it is, or, if it is not on this blog, where I learned this. But that is my understanding. I’d have to do a search for the source to back this up.

    Also, I’ve written on this blog about the procreative power being a male-only function. For example, see this. There are a bunch of other comments scattered around that also elaborate on the same topic: men procreating (begetting) and women conceiving, carrying and giving birth (baring children). (For instance, I wrote a gazillion comments in Justin’s Marriage Equality post, analyzing gender functions, among other things, and also I believe there was at least one other post where the creation was examined in the comments, and also the parts each participant played.) In other words, there is a differentiation of roles, and it may be that the endowment does, indeed, speak of both roles, but just not explicitly. But I will have to do some double checking first before I can explain what I mean, because I’m writing this comment based solely on my memory of the endowment. It may be that after reviewing the endowment, I may discover that my memory was faulty.

  24. From ldsendowment/creation:

    [Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael are heard speaking outside the Creation Room.]

  25. OK — so then why is Adam:

    looking for Father to come down to give us further instruction

    if “Elohim” meant “both the male and female aspects of God“?

    It seems apparent that the personage who said:

    We shall go away, but we shall visit you again and give you further instructions.

    [which is stated to come from "Elohim"] is to be interpreted as “Father” — given what Adam said to Lucifer — and not to be interpreted as a dual-gender couple of Father and Mother.

    Unless [and I'm just guessing right now] you’d say that Mother is invisible and Father is visible — so when they both [as "Elohim"] spoke to Adam, he only perceived the visible Father and failed to notice the invisible Mother.

    But it seems more likely that “Elohim” means, in the context of the endowment presentation, God the Father(only).

  26. Perhaps a threadjack, but someone commented about FMH and so I have feminism on my mind. It is fascinating to me to see certain groups of men pushing back against feminsim, and not from a traditionalist position. The growing phenomenon, especially in Japan, of the so-called “herbivore man” or “MGTOW (men going their own way).” I cannot say I fully share their belief in the toxicity of marriage and women, but I can empathize. Many share truly heartbreaking stories of abuse and manipulation; had I endured those experiences, it is likely I would draw similar conclusions.

    I am appreciative of the thoughtfulness of the comments on this blog and am genuinely curious if others have encountered this MGTOW phenomenon. To me it is tragic yet understandable. What are women to do when men opt out entirely?

  27. I’ve never heard of MGTOW before, but I will look into it. Thanks for the info.

  28. PZ, having now researched it, I also empathize with the MGTOW philosophy, but it contradicts the law of chastity, which requires that a man take a wife to raise up seed unto the Lord. To convert MGTOW into MGTLW (Men Going The Lord’s Way) while still retaining male power and freedom, a MGTOW man simply needs to do two things: 1) marry a wife without a license and 2) provide a separate residence for his wife and children. This would allow a MGTOW man to keep both the state and his wife and children out of his affairs, while still complying with the Lord’s commandment. He just needs to make sure that all property is in his name, including the house in which his wife and children reside. In fact, he need not provide the whole house for her, but can provide a part of the house for the maintenance of her and her children, which would allow him to use the other parts of the house for himself (which he would need to remain firm on), or for use by other wives of his (should he decide to marry again). As the house is his, he can make these decisions.

    This would be the only way, that I can currently think of, for a MGTOW man to obey the law of chastity and still keep his dignity and sanity. Allowing a woman to live in a portion of the same house that he resides in would be out of the question for a MGTOW man, since she would soon take control of every part of it (all of its interior designing, designated functions, etc.) and ultimately she would be the one to delegate a small “den” area as her husband’s “space.”

    The MGTOW man, more so than other men, probably would be able to pull off a two-house arrangement, because women are not on his list of priorities, and a protesting woman would not have great influence on him. However, there are still two obstacles: the additional cost of maintaining two residences and getting a woman to go along with his plan.

  29. I have decided that it would be a good thing that women take the reigns of the gentile church as they could do no worse than the current pseudo leadership that now controls the “church” as a corporate whore.

    The priesthood as a church body was lost long ago and is going south more every day. The priesthood within the members has not been properly magnified. They simply follow the party line.

    The women in the church that have born children have “prevailed” in the same venue that Leah did when she bore children to Jacob, and then Rachel “prevailed” when she offered her hand maiden to Jacob. Jacob did not “prevail’ until he wrestled all night with the Angel. If the male members do not wrestle and magnify their priesthood they have no authority and deserve no leadership role.

  30. PZ, I just wanted to thank you yet again for telling me about the herbivores and MGTOW. As a result of that info, over the past two weeks I’ve been re-examining the scriptures with these things in mind and I’ve gotten a lot of new (to me, at least) doctrinal information. So far I’ve written, I suppose, about 50 pages of new teachings and I am trying to compose them into a comprehensive and succinct post, but I am finding it difficult since the note topics often overlap and integrate with multiple topics. I may need to just re-write all the notes as one complete, logical flow, but that sounds like a lot of work to me, so I may just keep them as private teachings, for my kids and people who know me in real life. Whatever I decide to do, though, I wanted to thank you because I now have a very different perspective on the gospel.

  31. Your comment elsewhere, about your children disowning you for spending to much time on the blog, got me thinking: that perhaps your children could be transcribers/secretaries when you teach them, and then type up what you taught them for the blog (with you as editor, of course); or you could use that Dragon voice recorder thing, or a recorder of some other type and have them transcribe from that. That way: we get all those things you would normally teach anyways, your children don’t have to disown you for spending to much time here, and they (your children) get practice recording teachings (and being secretaries, which every presidency has).

  32. Life in this world is a construct. Like the building of a bridge to Heaven. There are two major components to building that bridge from earth to heaven.

    First there must be pillars firmly pounded deep into unstable ground beneath the chaos of water, in order to support the Roadway that permits traffic to flow from one place to another.

    Envision the Pillars to the Bridge as the ( Husband/Father ) for whom supports, lifts, & gives stability to the Roadway ( Wife/Mother ) for whom provides the Road for the Traffic ( Parent’s Children ).

    If a Roadway had no pillars it would simply be a Roadway and would not be considered a Bridge in and of itself. It would not be elevated high above the hazards presented by the telestial terrain of our existence. Therefore, the Traffic would be subject to the dangers of direct contact with obstacles in this life that need to be overcome by being ELEVATED above the hazards of this life.

    But with Pillars alone protruding from the surface and having to leap from one pillar to the next to remain aloft above the hazards of this world, the trip would be impossible to make. For no man could leap that far between pillars without dropping into the hazards below.

    So where would the traffic be without BOTH components to a Bridge to Heaven ?

    So the answer to the Priesthood question lies NOT in the fact that OBVIOUSLY BOTH components are ESSENTIAL to makjng a Bridge ( Eternal Marriage ) that is intended to support the TRAFFIC ( Eternal unbroken chain of Posterity ), which flows to Heaven across that Bridge.

    But life being a CONSTRUCT, meaning that a Bridge must be built from the Ground Up, one component before the other, would suggest that WHILE the Bridge is under construction, until the upper Road Way is COMPLETE, then OBVIOUSLY the Pillars would INITIALLY receive the Greater attention & significance given to it’s being the Essential FOUNDATION to the Bridge.

    But once the Road Way has been COMPLETED & those two components of the Bridge have been PERFECTLY JOINED to form ONE BRIDGE to the Celestial Kingdom ( Marriage & Children ), who could envision one component without the other and call it something which EXALTS ( Lifts EACH OTHER ), and the TRAFFIC ( Posterity ) DEPENDENT on being LIFTED above the hazards below ?

    You ask how the Road Way ( Wife ) would support and lift the Pillars ?….

    By making the Pillars look like they have a GREATER PURPOSE than to stand alone looking SILLY…To Lift and Support that BEAUTIFUL component of the BRIDGE which provides the ROAD WAY to Heaven….Something MORE than a PHYSICAL Support. It is the OTHER and HIGHER kind of Support….SPIRITUAL Support & Purpose for BOTH… Pillars and Traffic.

    And takes the LEAPING from one pillar to the next and makes it a Smooth Beautiful Ride in which the VIEW of this Life can be ENJOYED. And BOTH provide protection from the Hazards below….The Pillars by Physically RAISING the Road Way & Traffic ABOVE the hazards below. And the Roadway by making it a Beautiful Ride worth making. And the Traffic giving GREATER PURPOSE to the Bridge.

    The answer does not lie in the fact that a Wife is to become a Godess & receive Priesthood of Her OWN. The answer lies in the COMPLETION/RESTORATION of that fact. And the Road Way DOES come AFTER the Pillars, does it NOT ? This life is a CONSTRUCT….Line Upon Line….

    But from my point of view as a man, I’m SURE GLAD that I’M the one to be ABLE TO BEHOLD the Road Way & Traffic from BENEATH. I’m always looking UP & beholding HEAVEN ON EARTH.

    And what Greater Purpose would the Road Way have if it ALONE were the only thing to behold it’s Beauty & Purpose ?

    That which is ABOVE & BELOW that Road Way ( Children/ Husband ) benefit MOST from the SURFACE that provides the PATHWAY to Heaven. At least from my point of view. That perspective may be different coming from the Road Way looking beneath itself and realizing it has only ONE WAY of remaining ALOFT to serve it’s DESIRE & PURPOSE of providing the PATHWAY for Traffic to flow and to be Worshiped & Admired by the Pillars & Traffic.

    It all depends on one’s POSITION within the construct of the Bridge.

    And the BIGGEST answer to life lies in the PERFECT JOINING of the COMPONENTS that MAKE the ENTIRE BRIDGE….A Perfect Marriage that has been COMPLETED, once the Components are BOTH COMMISSIONED as an Eternal BRIDGE ( God / Godess ) that permits the passage of Traffic through ALL ETERNITY….Eternal Increase.

    And ALL can look upon the BRIDGE as being FAR GREATER than THEMSELVES. Three Individual COMPONENTS can Create the HIGHEST CONCEPT…..That of giving a PURPOSE to the COMBINED Components….EACH being RECOGNIZED for their INDIVIDUAL contributions to the FAMILY.

    Of course Wives will hold the Priesthood. They are merely waiting to be COMPLETED….God ALWAYS saves the BEST for LAST.

    Our Gospel Bridge in this Life that joins the next, for the Final Generation, is to be the RESTORATION of ALL things….Including that which Eve held BEFORE the Fall ( Road Way to be completed AFTER) a PILLAR ( Adam ) needed to be installed beneath Her to SUPPORT the RISE of Their Marriage.

  33. I have no Greater Respect than that which I have for My Dad. And that is the FOUNDATION upon which I form the BASIS of My Life.

    But it is My MOM that I Love the Most. She is the REASON for the foundation of My Life. And so it goes with the way I see My Wife.

    If that doesn’t rate it’s own Priesthood….What Would ? They just need to patiently WAIT for it to be RESTORED to them, as it has been for Our Mother in Heaven.

    The Bridge has to start SOMEWHERE…But ENDS with finishing up the BEST PART…That Awesomely Beautiful Road Way to Heaven, which ALSO takes TIME to build.

  34. Our Heavenly Mother is GODESS to Our Father. Our Wives on earth are yet to REALIZE this. This is a construct of Marriage based upon LEARNING these things Line upon Line…

    But the endowment does say…We are consecrated to BECOME Kings & QUEENS, who JOINTLY hold the Keys ( Priesthood ) to the Kingdom of Heaven. Each having a HAND upon the SAME WHEEL that steers Our Eternal Ship to Heaven and Beyond.

    Our learning process requires that we FIRST see our parents as both sitting in the front seat of the car, while Dad has both hands on the wheel and Mom is telling him where to go.

    But in ETERNAL REALITY, I would think Our End Game car would be equipped with a wheel in the MIDDLE, where BOTH Drivers have a Hand on the Priesthood wheel….Each imparting their Individual/ COLLECTIVE Skills & Offerings.

    This may be the BEST PART of the “New Thing” Isaiah refers to.

  35. The world would have this process of women gaining their EQUALITY with men, through the GRABBING of the wheel from the hands of her husband.

    I think God’s Way would be more like the husband coming to RECOGNIZE that Equality & Right which belongs to women and wives, and allow her to SHARE that Priesthood Wheel. And come to reflect the PERFECTION of Eternal Marriage.

    Women have always been willing to share more than men. This is a lesson we men must learn from them.

    Men need to feel CONFIDENT in their OWN hold upon that wheel before we will most likely accept sharing it.

    And women of the church need to not reach out and GRAB that wheel from her husband, which will OVERPOWER her INDIVIDUAL ability to HANDLE that wheel that was MEANT to be held COLLECTIVELY….In it’s TIME….

    Very Soon I would imagine, given the fact that women who have grabbed this wheel have FAILED at producing the necessary and desired results. And men have FAILED their wives by CAUSING this to happen in REJECTING their Priesthood.

    BOTH need to DO WHAT IS RIGHT !

  36. The fact that a previous comment said these things WERE taught by Joseph Smith, I would assume for the Building of the Kingdom as it was FIRST presented to the Saints, came into forgotten language as a result of the Saints FAILURE to establish the Lord’s Kingdom and things began to slump into apostasy and is soon to be corrected.

    Joseph’s description of these things seem pretty plain to me and reflect COMMON SENSE. The Battle of the sexes must have come into play among the Saints as the entire group failed to live the Law of Consecration, which seems to be a Perfect Financial Law of a collective society that mirrors a Perfect Marriage & Family….The SHARING OF ALL THINGS.

  37. Rob — you got me thinking this morning …

    Your imagery of building a roadway into the heavens that is supported by pillars — but how we currently just have a vast field of support pillars [with no roadway on them] — brought to mind an image of the Egyptian obelisk [in fact, a vast field of them]; their symbol of the male aspect, what they took to be the fire of the Sun-god’s “masculine” rationality and leadership. But there they are, alone in a field — looking like a bunch of impaling skewers or something.

    I’ve always cringed away from “either-or” arguments — I find them so unproductive and wrong-headed. It’s not going to be “either-or”; it’s going to be “both-and”, or “to what degree”.

    Stamping feet and demanding, “We want the Priesthood-pants too!” is a self-ish act. What would you do with it? Treat it just like the LDS men have, and turn it into a honor system and power pyramid of control? Why do we need more of that?

    Instead, I’d say, take what’s already there and use it in a real gospel-focused way — show the male leadership what “holding priesthood” actually looks like. You can’t ask the System for permission to up-root the System. You got to just take the God-given rights you already have, exercise them according to the will of God, and let that act as a light to expose the dark-works that keep saints from their liberty in Christ — and as a spiritual “gravity-source” to draw all the true and honest seekers of Christ out of the System and towards You.

    Just sticking women in the Elder’s Quorum, letting them come to the Priesthood session, placing women on the stand during Sunday services, or letting women control the Ward budgets won’t affect the change they’re seeking or the change that needs to happen.

  38. LDSAnarchist,

    I have read both The Mormon Priestess (uncut version), and, gratefully, your counter arguments and possible corrections. In all your posts, however, I have not come across your addressing of the author’s ideas that 1) the consequences of Eve’s Original Sin are still being borne by her endowed daughters, and 2) are of such magnitude to not be covered by the atonement (which, IMO, is surely a stretch as the atonement is both infinite and eternal. See Alma 34:8-10).

    “Both Adam and Eve transgressed, yet the temple reflects that Adam’s redemption is full and allows him to become a priest to Elohim and a god in his own right, so why would Eve have to covenant to Adam and not get to covenant with Elohim, also receiving a full restoration of her relationship with Elohim?
    I suggest that Eve’s “curse” was a “fall” in that she eternally lost her potential to be a priestess to Elohim. Her only access to exaltation is to be a priestess to another god to whom she is completely devoted body and soul, and to whom she will exercise obedience (unlike her disobedience to Elohim)…
    Man may not be punished for Adam’s transgression, but women are still punished for Eve’s. If women are not punished for Eve’s transgression, why the need to submit to a husbandgod? If Eve’s action was heroic, courageous, and necessary, why is Eve not commended for her sacrifice and woman anointed a priestess to Elohim?
    The obvious problem with the temple portrayal of Eve’s curse and necessary submission to Adam is that the atonement of Christ should be powerful enough to overcome anything Eve did. Why couldn’t Eve repent to fully regain her access to Elohim without a husband intercessor? The temple doctrine suggests that woman is paying for Eve’s sin instead of letting the Savior atone for it. Why would Christ not be her intercessor, as Christ is intercessor for Adam himself, by which she could then become a priestess to Elohim? I believe this is the great conundrum of how women are portrayed in the temple narrative: it limits and contradicts the power of atonement.”

  39. Ilaria (and also pinkrose89),

    I have been awfully occupied of late (since May) and much of the new stuff I have wanted to record on this blog has simply been sitting in notebooks and other pieces of paper that happened to be around when I tried to write them down, or, when paper or opportunity to write have not been available to me, has simply been floating around in my mind. So that these floating thoughts have not been lost, I have been teaching one of my sons the new info, since he has a good memory and actually appreciates the things I tell him. If I ever get around to spending more time on this blog, I will attempt to write this all down here and post it.

    Elisothel’s questions that you quoted, Ilaria, can be answered by the new stuff, so it is unfortunate that I do not have the time and opportunity to explain these things right now. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you and not being able to give you the answers you seek at this time. I cannot give them succinctly, but must unfold the scriptures to show these answers clearly. A short few sentences will not do any justice to this topic, otherwise I would just explain these things this very moment.

    Nevertheless, I will say this now, Elisothel’s questions represent her confusion concerning the obedience covenant that a woman enters into in order to become a man’s wife.

    Elisothel asked:

    Why would Eve have to covenant to Adam?

    and

    Why the need to submit to a husbandgod?

    These two questions are really just the same question, namely:

    Why must Eve and all her female posterity covenant to obey their husbands?

    Again, I will not explain this now, since it needs to be fully unfolded, and I don’t have the time, but this is, essentially, what needs to be clarified. But I will try to make the time to write the exposition off-line, and then transfer it to this blog, even if it is only in bits and pieces, since more than just my son ought to be aware of this information.


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