Are Mormons ready for the Rise of the Priestesses? No. Of course they are not. That is not the question. The question is, are you and I ready as individuals? There has been a lot of commotion lately surrounding the issue of women as they are viewed in the Church. To be perfectly clear, it is not my intention to detract from the discussion within that context. Nor do I desire to discourage my sisters from acting on the spirit of equality that is stirring in the hearts of many these days. Any action taken to further the understanding of women and men as equals is valid and important in my eyes. What I want to do with my words here is to broaden the context to include not only the furthest reaches of prophecy but to take in the vital first steps of inner change that alone can ensure true and everlasting progress beyond the shifty, political moves that are presented to us as game-changers, when in truth they only perpetuate the boys vs. girls game of petty power struggle. The point I want to make is that men are wallowing in such a low and wretched state, spiritually speaking, that issue of equality between the sexes must, by definition start with an equal boosting of both men and women, together. So let me cut to the chase.
I read a post a while back at Feminist Mormon Housewives, written by a male guest author, Jared P., that was entitled A Kingdom of Priests. It is not so much my intention to critique it but to use its momentum to catapult some ideas to those Mormon priests and priestesses who are ready for real and royal Pre-Stood Power or at least an honest discussion on priesthood politics in the Church. The post does a good job of correcting the common conflation between “the full measure of our creation” and titles and offices. But the hopes and wishes expressed in this post for the actual fulfillment of the measure of our creation sound every bit as hollow, muffled and distant as the lightly lilting but Monsonotonous speeches of Thomas S. They ring with a little less conviction than the sexist sayings of Elder Voyd K. If one can not Pack half the punch that Packer does, then don’t count on much ever changing in your lifetime. To be fair I do not think for one minute that this was the author’s intention (to see positive change or real strides towards the fulfilling of humanity’s divine potential) but rather, he sought and succeeded in doing a little lip-service to ideals such as equality and peace. And that is fine. Let every man and woman go at his or her own chosen pace in accordance with the divine plan.
Jared most certainly speaks for the majority of his brothers and sisters and accurately communicates their affinity for warm fuzzy feelings – fluff-filling over fulfillment. Indeed D&C 121 states plainly that “almost all men” cling to safety cushions which are stuffed by a staff of stiff pretend priests who place pillows with carefully crocheted clichés over the faces of their sleeping wives to stifle and suffocate them. Their so-called “priesthood position” stems directly from their “dis-position” as unrighteous dominant partners who think they can domineer the Pre-Stood Power and hog the fallsecurity blankets of a defiled marriage-bed. The bedspread or counterpane is described as a fantasy land by the poet Robert Louis Stevenson in his children’s classic, The Land of Counterpane. Here the overgrown, sick child imagines himself a giant among men, sending “ships in fleets…among the sheets” and sprawling “houses out…cities all about.” – such masculine and Masonic imagery. Stevenson’s other well known children’s poem, The Land of Nod is also a subtle nod to the vanity of this League of Just Men who leave women outside their inner prayer circle. It is the vain dream of the Church of (Cain) the Firstborn who goes about building the first City-State and naming it after his own firstborn, Enoch. This is the anti-zion or ante-zion, a false illusion that appears before the real City of Enoch and sets itself against that which the Lord blesses because it wrongly sees itself as having emerged first like Esau. But it was his mother who knew and understood that Jacob was to preside. Nephi and Joseph of Egypt were not the firstborn in their families. Even Adam, in his confusion, wrongfully assumed superiority over Eve, thinking that seniority if only by moments should always reign. But what does Adam know about that which pre-seeded his self? Being that he does not remember clearly anything that happened before his physical creation and seeing as how he was asleep during the physical formation of Eve, he can not be a credible witness. Why then do we unquestionably accept his authority as near absolute?
Are we satisfied to poo-poo and postpone indefinitely Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother’s deepest desire for us as Their Sons and Daughters? Even though the words of Paul to the Corinthians are quoted in the Feminist Mormon Housewives piece, there is no eagerness here to “put away childish things”. We can not preserve the Child-like/Christ-like qualities which Jesus told us were necessary to inherit the Kingdom of God, without putting away child-ish things. In modern American English the ending “ish” is frequently used to describe something that approximates or even copies a certain characteristic but nevertheless is not an authentic or full embodiment of that characteristic. If we need to become as little children to enter the Kingdom, does “child-ish” suffice? “Ish” is also used these days in many circles as a euphemism for “$#!+”. We know were falling short and even digressing away from our child-like natures when we resist change and assume the role of self-ish brats who should have been potty-trained long ago, but instead insist that our Heavenly Mom and Dad bear the responsibility for changing us out of the squishy ish-filled diapers we so proudly wear. Somehow I don’t think that “Wear Diapers to Church Day” can even be justified as the baby-steps that would be appropriate for “Infants on Thrones” as Joseph Smith described us in the King Follet Discourse. In many parts of the Afrikan bush the children are diaper-free and fully potty-trained by a much earlier age than babies in modernized areas of the world. This is just a temporal example of a much deeper spiritual concept. By babying our spirits we do ourselves a great disservice.
We bask in the vainglorious flattery of the “Brethren” and the Relief Society Presidency as they remind us of the specialness of our generation. Like spoiled royal brats we throw temple tantrums and let Christ, our whipping boy, receive the lashes which in a just and fair society would go to us. Engl-ish culture has us fascinated by nannies with Brit-ish accents who claim to know precisely what it takes to raise up a righteous generation. But we’re no Angels, only Angel-ish. We do not live as the Angels in Heaven do, but make a mockery with our vain ideas of perfection. If we must turn to English literature in an attempt to understand angels, we can do no better than the writings of William Blake.
“It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels, but because they do not expect holiness from one another, but from God only.”
Anglos are not angels and through all phases of our society from Victorian to today, we will hold to our place in this man’s world by cleverly putting the woman up on a pedestal which is nothing more than a glorified auction block.
In an address from last year’s October Conference Melvin Ballard Jr. speaks of being anxiously engaged (presumably in a good cause). But the title of his talk is more in line with the neural linguistic programming within its main body than with LDS Scripture and would be more accurately titled “Bee Anxiously Engaged.” In it Ballard compares “good church members” to honeybees. White men who imagine themselves on the top of the Pyramid or Hive are like bees.
Did you know that bees communicate with one another through a special dance? It is true. But what do those busy bees talk about with one another? Why, work of course. Like the majority of males living in any one of the many white male dominated nations of the earth, conversation is intrinsically centered around bzzzyness. Modern man is all abuzz with making cold contacts consisting of questions like “So, what do you do?” and “How much honey does that make?” In nature bees are constantly exchanging info about where to find more nectar. Karl Von Frisch conducted an experiment wherein a hive (Church or Government) was placed at the foot of a radio tower with an abundant food source atop (Heaven). 10 bees were “taken up” to the top and shown the food source like holy men who get a glimpse of the Order of Heaven. These bees were then sent off to tell the rest of the hive about their find. The message was conveyed via their non-verbal language which consists of a fixed set of signals for communicating location. The problem is; bees’ fixed signals all relate to horizontal distance only. They can not manipulate their system of communication to create a ‘new’ message indicating vertical distance. Von Frisch watched as the bees flew frustrated in all directions but were unable to locate the heavenly supply. Obsessed with accumulating more and more wealth and conceptualizing their souls to be solely de-fined by their finery, the swarms of working class, Christ-shun, Caucasian men who make the “world” go round are so completely convinced that they are the “Bees Knees”. Never pausing to bend the knee and confess their nothingness, with the tongue of angels. Taking their capital and industry as evidence that they must be the representatives of the summit of society, they have no real concept of “up” and sadly; can not seem to devise one.
Very few W.A.S.P.s (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) ever transcend the worker-drone mentality of the Beehive and achieve the level of angels among us. If a white man grows his hair and beard out and adopts in his heart, the crazy idea of Jesus that Love Is All We Need, he will unfailingly be mocked by the “Big Boys” in General Conference no less. It took a year or two of frequent repetition from his faithful companion Yoko Ono, but once the truth finally sunk in, John Lennon put it succinctly and directly, plainly and preciously, as Nephi would say, into a song: Woman is the Ni**er of the World.
The so-called progressive mind-set that is gaining popularity these days within the religious realm can not be defended as truly progressing us towards a brighter future if it refuses to pull out our dark past and examine it in the light. In many deep-seated ways, the concepts of “priesthood” as well as “eternal progression” have been de-spiritualized since the early days of Mormonism. I contend that this is a major problem because, even though most will undoubtedly say that priesthood is not the issue, they grossly misunderstand not only me, but also the role that theology plays as an entry point for ideas that shape our world. Most Mormons wouldn’t recognize true Priesthood Power if it stepped up and slapped them across the face, which it wouldn’t because it operates on the principle of non-cohersion. But still, when they are dished a back-handed perversion of the priesthood, to the point of a spiritual (or even in some cases physical) slap across the face they rarely question the overall institution behind that force. Now before you say in your mind again that the question of priesthood is not even a real issue when it comes to the objectives of the women’s equality movement within the LDS Church today, remember to speak for yourself. And in as much as you feel more or less qualified to speak for your sisters remember that, while the problem may not be that most Mormons do not know what priesthood is, the lack of gender equality present is a direct result of mistakenly thinking that we do know what priesthood means.
So whether you see it as a women’s rights issue, more political in nature or just a case of making a few aesthetic corrections, plastic surgery to improve the Church’s image, that is all very well. But any of us who identify that a problem, or even just a need for change no matter how big or small exists, will have to be willing to connect the dots between the state of things today and the past roots. It’s either that, or we admit that we are phonies who have no serious goals for effecting positive adjustments into the future. Bandying about with band-aids and polite banter never changes policy, let alone hearts and minds. Changing hearts and minds has been given over to the jurisdiction of religion in countless ways. We may say that this is a personal domain between a person and God in an attempt to steer clear of sticky theological discussion. Then why even talk about it with others, what is the point of religion at all? I know many women and men who take an interest in this topic may honestly feel that it is wrong for them to pronounce judgment on another’s heart or mind. Regardless of the truthfulness of that principle, we do it all the time to varying degrees and like it or not, the teachers of religion in the very forum where we are seeing inequality to be an issue, are themselves, the worst offenders. So in the spirit of keeping ourselves honest, let’s explore, at least briefly, the roots of the problem.
We will start with some quotes from a past president of the Church. Not because I think the majority of people who read this are ready for such a revolutionary act as scrutinizing the main Church leadership. I for one, do not even believe that the real solutions require us to waste much time looking at anyone other than ourselves. But for those who are more interested in changing the Church to their comfort than in listening to the discontent inside themselves and hearing that pre-stood power that creates worlds without number speak to them about how they can transform their own world – I say, your solution should be simple and straightforward. From a legal perspective and although unseen, a spiritual standpoint, Thomas S. Monson is the one you want to talk to. If you think this would be unnecessary or even beside the point, I would tend to agree. But at least take a look at what you and your leaders have inherited. Or alternately admit the lack of true conviction behind your words and the pointlessness of the actions you take to supposedly establish some semblance of equality between men and women in the context of the LDS Church. Without further ado, here is the promised presidential prattle.
“It is much more difficult for wives to learn than it is for husbands, because women have not the degree of light and knowledge that their husbands have; they have not the power over their passions that their husbands have; therefore they have to suffer one for another until they get power over themselves like unto those that have advanced more fully in the knowledge of our God.” President Lorenzo Snow, (The Blessings and Privleges of the Saints—Obedience to Council Volume 5, pg 315)
Another gem from sweet old Lorenzo Snow given in the same talk in 1857:
“You very seldom find that husbands and wives are perfect; but perhaps it is very well that the husband is not perfect, because, if he was, he would be placed at a great distance from his wives. It requires a great exertion on the parts of wives to keep pace with their husbands.”
Oh but this is not the mood or attitude anymore, right? This type of thing is no longer a problem. Yeah, like racism is no longer a problem since Obama took office. While the problem of inequality by definition manifests itself in a variety of ways, this is not evidence that the morphed fruit is in no way connected to the lofty branches. I am of course applying the analogy of the wild fruit given in Jacob 5. If the roots are worth saving then we must disencumber the tree of the lofty branches. The very fact that these quotes have been tucked away is evidence that we have never even begun to deal with these issues. If I believe God wants me to be a racist I have no reason to examine racists behavior. If I believe God condemns homosexuals, I have no reason to examine my homophobia. If I believe God made men superior to women, I have no reason to examine my sexism. Once we take the opinions of man as God’s Will, life seems very simple. The problem is that God knows and deep inside we know we are embracing a lie. The more the lie becomes manifest in the world, the more frequently God will send the Father of Lies to shake up the faulty foundations upon which so-called Master Builders construct. The Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 28:19, makes it clear that this shaking is necessary so that growth and progress might continue. Whether you see yourself as working for fair and equal treatment of women within the Church or you are actually seeking to exercise those latent, God-given powers within you, I think it is safe to say that some shaking will be necessary for all of us at one point or another.
I would like to dive in a bit deeper to examine the essence of Pre-Stood Power vs. man’s ideas on priesthood for the benefit of all my brothers and sisters, whether merely curious or truly desirous to more faithfully fulfill their life’s calling. I find it more helpful to use the term Pre-Stood as a reminder that the Powers of Heaven stood before and will stand long after the foundation and passing of the Earth. It is in essence, the essence, the Love, that which was before and that which remains, according to Jesus, Paul, Alma, Joseph and countless other teachers. The word Pre-Stood helps us to understand that all conferral of said power is not just an ordination but a re-ordination. All men and women have already been fore-ordained. If that is too much for some so-called priesthood holders to accept we can slightly adjust the wording to say that everyone ordained to the priesthood in this life received a pre-ordination. If you do not feel this to be true, then I would suggest that it is a personal problem and maybe you need a PPI (Personal Priesthood Interview) with God to determine whether perhaps there has been some mistake in issuing that which is sacred to you who through unworthiness can no longer sense the pre-ordination of the Great Ones which Father Abraham witnessed. The LDS acronym PPI is one that should be familiar to many Mormon men and women as well. It is an operation of what Dallin Oaks, J.D. referred to as the “priesthood line” of authority in a 2010 address. Oaks condescendingly cautioned against the perils of the “personal line” and placed it firmly under the jurisdiction of Church leaders. I wonder how many other Mormon men were left scratching their heads at this de-lineation and de-liberation of a supposedly continuous line of authority of which Christ Jesus freely gave and commanded us to freely give (Matt. 10:8). This obsessing over lines or lineage is nothing new. But confusion is compounded when one stops to consider that it is persons who hold the priesthood, hence the term Personal Priesthood Interview. So isn’t all priesthood personal? Indeed we may say, along with the apostle Paul, that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:4), but in practice we betray this trust He has placed in us by respecting priesthoodlums and their policy over eternal principle.
While it may very well be foolishness to seek Heavenly power from worldly men, it is arrogance to assume that you hold and magnify the pre-stood power if you are found mocking a movement for equality within the institutional church. All men who assume themselves worthy pre-stood holders and are not diligent in encouraging their own wives and even any misguided but honest LDS women who feel the Holy Spirit of change blowing through the rafters of a condemned Church and as thermal currents in their own hearts to magnify their female pre-stood power more fully; those men are not magnifying their own pre-stood but are letting it dwindle. If you can not see the differences between a movement for equal treatment of the feminine gender in the LDS Church and the ancient prophecies regarding the establishment of Zion then you are deeply confused about and unfamiliar with the order and powers of Heaven. Latter-Day Saints should prepare in their own hearts, minds and families for the Millennial Reign of Christ, for the Restoration of All Things and for the Rise of the Priestesses.