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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Excommunications (Page 5)

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Author Topic: Excommunications
scifibum
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Which modesty rules are you talking about?

The modesty rules for endowed (meaning having received certain rites in the temple) men and women are essentially the same, with exceptions for swimming and such. As the rules relate to the shape of the temple garments worn under other clothing, they are somewhat unique, and they rule out things like bare shoulders - so I'd understand "bizarre" here - but they aren't very much patriarchal rules.

There's also a wider culture that the LDS church is part of that holds that adolescent girls should wear modest clothing [which whatever] and are responsible for helping the poor boys/men avoid dirty thoughts and impure impulses [which arrggh rage]. But this is not at all unique to the LDS church, so I am not sure if it's what you are referring to.

If the former, no, it's going to change slowly if at all and won't be a predictor for the other thing.

If the latter, maybe, I think if that changed it would probably be due to reasons that you'd think would bode well for female ordination. However, it might not be as consequent as you think; there have been some rather categorical statements lately from the highest church leaders on the topic of female ordination. Even if they come around on how damaging and wrongheaded certain aspects of modesty culture can be, the remedy for that would simply amount to ceasing certain harmful preaching. The other change would be somewhat revolutionary and involve new teachings that are directly opposed to the previous teachings, which is a much higher bar even if a lot of the cultural inertia peters out.

But we do have the example of the civil rights movement preceding the church's change on blacks and the priesthood by only a couple of decades, so, maybe. They do hedge their bets - even stuff like ProcFam isn't entered into the canon, however much it's relied on otherwise.

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advice for robots
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I'm interested in the modesty requirements you're referring to. True, church members tend to dress more modestly than current norms, but it's not like LDS women are walking around in ankle-length dresses anymore. Is it about the way LDS women dress, or something else?
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Samprimary
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the Mormon church is, as is typical of any large socially conservative and heavily patriarchal organization, struggling with the objectification of women that is almost requisitely created when men-only leadership creates and polices policy enforcing modesty on women (with or without pretending that there is any equivalence in how they police male modesty, which there never is)

and when i say it is struggling with it, that's much more charitable than it sounds like on the surface. The church is struggling with it in the sense that it is trying to recognize and address the issues inherent in its own modesty enforcement policies. Even back in 1988 a then president of BYU was criticizing how he saw women saddled with the responsibility to control men's lust for them, thus it was their modesty that was ever more and more policed and men's advances that were policed less and less.

The end result is an, as I see it, atypical movement towards gender-neutral guidelines for modesty, at least as described in the rules as written for the Mormon church.

You see much less credible and minimal dialogue on enforced modesty in other conservative churches, even if to modern society, Mormonism's rules on dress and modesty (for women especially) has the appearances of being more archaic and weird in its restrictions and the level to which young people (girls especially) are instructed and policed on it, versus the norm.

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advice for robots
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quote:
the Mormon church is, as is typical of any large socially conservative and heavily patriarchal organization, struggling with the objectification of women that is almost requisitely created when men-only leadership creates and polices policy enforcing modesty on women (with or without pretending that there is any equivalence in how they police male modesty, which there never is)
Well, scifibum mentioned the temple garments, which kind of enforce modesty on their own because they are supposed to be fully covered by clothing. Both men and women (who have been through the temple ceremonies) wear those. If anything, the modesty requirement they impose is greater for men--the shoulders on the men's garment tops are much longer than the women's.

Church-owned schools like BYU have a dress code, but it's no more stringent for women than men. If anything is bizarre about it, it's BYU's policy against long hair and beards for men. You can't have a beard unless you have a skin condition that doesn't permit you to shave. Then you have a "beard card."

Other than that, while the church definitely does favor modest dress, I'm at a loss about all the policies and policing going on that enforces modesty in women, much less anything that the patriarchal patriarchy running the church has imposed on women but not on men.

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scifibum
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Modesty policing is directed mostly at girls, even though there's no large difference in the standards that would be prescribed for boys and girls were they to be explicitly codified - it's not like you'd have people saying booty shorts are alright for boys and not for girls - it's that people are primarily worried about and paying attention to immodesty in girls.

It's both a side effect and symptom of the sexual objectification of girls and women.

It's really toxic when 1) (intentionally or not) the message is conveyed that boys can not control their reactions to immodest dress, AND 2) thoughts and impulses are equated to actions. This is a recipe for disaster for both genders. It teaches girls to internalize blame in situations and for things that are not her fault, and simultaneously teaches boys that it might be her fault too.

Even though this is not the explicit or intended message, it is implicit and very problematic, and IMO arises mostly from the combination of the two factors, when one or the other by itself would be much less damaging.

Solution: never teach girls or boys that their state of dress is responsible for whether someone else is staying pure. Current success of implementation: pretty good for boys, dismal for girls.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Other than that, while the church definitely does favor modest dress, I'm at a loss about all the policies and policing going on that enforces modesty in women, much less anything that the patriarchal patriarchy running the church has imposed on women but not on men.

Basically (and unsurprisingly because it is always, guaranteed, 100%, universally the case in all circumstances where men are in charge of policing the dress, body image, 'protection of chastity,' and modesty of women) there is no equivalency between the policing of male modesty and the policing of women modesty. Ever. The second "I could bet everything on it because there's literally no way I could lose the bet" bet I could make would be over whether or not there's anything even remotely resembling equal body policing and modesty policing in the LDS for boys and girls, because this has never been true in the history of any church culture or regulation. Ever.

Example reading relating to that fact:

http://bycommonconsent.com/2013/09/09/drowning-in-modesty-guidelines-at-girls-camp/

http://newyorkerinutah.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/another-byu-modesty-note-the-toxicity-of-shame-in-lds-culture/comment-page-3/

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BlackBlade
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As an aside, I thought David F. Holland of Harvard made some very good remarks on this topic.

Link.

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BlackBlade
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Nelson:
quote:
What I don't understand is how and why you perceive women as (potentially) not being able to fully replicate the responsibilities (like making judgments with God's authority) which men within the church monopolize.
This is what I keep saying. You're wrong about what I think. As I said before I believe women are fully able to be leaders in the same way men are. What they have not been is asked to do so. Whether that is a function of members of the church not wanting to ask or contemplate that, or some other reason I cannot say.
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Rakeesh
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afr,

quote:
Well, whatever. I think you're trying to stuff what I just said into what you want it to mean. These aren't prison guards and they aren't military commanders. It's not a prison, nor it is the military. Members are not sworn to take orders, nor are they forced to do so. If you are approaching a cliff, the signs warning you that there is a cliff ahead are not necessarily giving you orders. Yet if you choose to ignore the signs' warnings, you will have to deal with the consequences.
I admit this peeved me enough that I stepped away from the conversation for awhile. I feel your response was unnecessarily dismissive and flippant, but on further thought it seemed likely it was due to a misunderstanding.

To clarify, my point was not that counsel is akin to military orders, or to liken the Mormon church to prison. It was simply to highlight the usual definitions of the word 'order' versus a word such as 'counsel', and to point out that many of your reasons for why counseling shouldn't be considered an order would apply equally well to things everyone considers orders without question, such as orders in the military.

---------

Jon Boy,

quote:
The Relief Society presides primarily and exclusively over women, though it answers to the bishopric at the ward level, and the general Relief Society board and presidency answer to the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency at the Church level.
Not that you were suggesting otherwise, but if one of the groups that is showcased as a prime example of the equal power of women in the church is itself answerable to male-only groups like bishops, the Quorum, and the First Presidency...well, I don't really see how to square that circle.

-----------

I think it's to the church's credit that the very mechanisms it has in place for change over time, particularly the notion that understanding of the will of God is imperfect, invite a kind of criticism and challenging skepticism, from without and as Kelly shows from within, to itself. While I remain personally very, very leery of ideas such as 'endangering the faith of others'-seriously allergic, really-the Church's willingness and even insistence to admit that it has the right path but not the perfect understanding is a big plus for me.

But perhaps perversely, this means it sometimes gets graded on a harsher curve than others. With a religion as conservative or more so that didn't admit to some uncertainty right up front, external frustration would be there but for me at least there would be a part of me realizing, "How can 'this is God's will be challenged?'" But with Mormons, that question is different. With the admission of some uncertainty, the question is almost, "How can this interpretation of God's will NOT be challenged?"

I think what this can sometimes result in is a higher frustration, even anger and hostility, when what seems to be obvious problems aren't addressed. It's perverse because in the long run, Mormonism has a significantly better mechanism for addressing such problems than many other similar religions.

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Jon Boy,

quote:
The Relief Society presides primarily and exclusively over women, though it answers to the bishopric at the ward level, and the general Relief Society board and presidency answer to the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency at the Church level.
Not that you were suggesting otherwise, but if one of the groups that is showcased as a prime example of the equal power of women in the church is itself answerable to male-only groups like bishops, the Quorum, and the First Presidency...well, I don't really see how to square that circle.
Yeah. I'm not going to argue that women have just as much priesthood authority or that there's no inequality or sexism in the Church. Whether or not it's fundamentally right or wrong and what should be done about it are questions that I don't feel qualified to answer.
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Nelson Elis
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quote:
quote:
What I don't understand is how and why you perceive women as (potentially) not being able to fully replicate the responsibilities (like making judgments with God's authority) which men within the church monopolize.
This is what I keep saying. You're wrong about what I think.
Well, in my defense, I did preface my statement with "I don't understand," which is sort of in the same ballpark as admitting to being wrong about what you think, right?

What you said was:
quote:
I also don't find it intrinsically sexist if the sexes have separate roles to play and cannot fully replicate each other's responsibilities.
The context of the statement outlines the contemporary reality that the given role/responsibility of women in "God's revealed plan" is about making babies, and the role/responsibility of men is about making binding judgments and decisions, and performing salvific ritual actions.

As I mentioned, I do understand your "cannot fully replicate the other's responsibility" comment in the sense of men being unable to fully replicate the female responsibility--which the context suggests is "baby-making." I don't see it as sexist to imply that men may not be able to perform the role of having babies. What I don't understand is is how your comment makes sense in terms of the inability of the female to replicate the male responsibility--which the context suggests is judgment-making/ritual performance.

From my perspective, the implication that females may not be able to replicate the male responsibility of holding the authority to make judgments and perform ritual actions IS sexist, in a pretty definitive way.

I'm not trying to assert what you personally think, BlackBlade. I'm admitting that I don't understand what your statement could reasonably mean...

[ June 28, 2014, 02:22 AM: Message edited by: Nelson Elis ]

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BlackBlade
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OK. That makes sense.

Because leading and performing rituals to Mormons requires that God give authorization, or else those things mean absolutely nothing.

If the way things are setup is sexist, well then that's up to God to explain why things are setup as they are. For me personally, it does not bother me that I will never know what it's like to conceive and bear children. Just as it does not bother me that I may never hold a leadership position in my church. I will admit that laying hands on the sick and healing them, passing the sacrament, and confirming somebody a member of the church are all beautiful experiences.

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Nelson Elis
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quote:
For me personally, it does not bother me that I will never know what it's like to conceive and bear children.
[Big Grin]

How forbearing of you!

I've reconciled myself to the deprivation of such a divine experience, as well.

In a similar vein, I'm not all too bothered that I didn't get to perform the atonement ritual, either.

But there is a qualitative distinction between the blessed duty to perform such transcendent functions, and the priesthood duty to come to binding judgments in God's name, BB.

Surely some categorical distinction should come to mind...
quote:
If the way things are setup is sexist, well then that's up to God to explain why things are setup as they are.
Or the men who claim God set it up in such a way...

[ June 28, 2014, 10:32 PM: Message edited by: Nelson Elis ]

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BlackBlade
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quote:
I've reconciled myself to the deprivation of such a divine experience, as well.
You jest, but having children has been an incredibly transformative experience for me and my wife. My sister who has reproductive issues is moving heaven and earth to try and bear children.

quote:
But there is a qualitative distinction between the blessed duty to perform such transcendent functions, and the priesthood duty to come to binding judgments in God's name.
Men do not hold a monopoly on passing judgements. Women can certainly declare things in God's name, and those things are binding. The key ingredient is not whether the gender of the spokesperson is male, it's whether God was indeed speaking through that individual.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Women can certainly declare things in God's name, and those things are binding. The key ingredient is not whether the gender of the spokesperson is male, it's whether God was indeed speaking through that individual.
So if a mormon woman said, with utter conviction, that God is speaking through her with the instruction to educate the faithful that women should hold the priesthood, what would the church's response be?
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BlackBlade
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It's not a theologically unsound concept to me. I imagine the church's response would be mixed. I would listen and pray over the matter.

There are many instances of the church going astray and God sending someone to bear witness of the truth. I don't think the leaders are remotely that out of touch with God however.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
It's not a theologically unsound concept to me. I imagine the church's response would be mixed.

Well, not that it couldn't be mixed in the future, but I think this Ordain Women lady is sort of presently the face of that, if as I've been told she is claiming to speak for what God has helped her know is the true state of affairs the church should attend to.

That, and when I asked a couple other groups of people I know who are fully or largely mormon, about if someone were to say this while within the church, in each case I got: Elder Ballard, "Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets"

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MattP
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There is a concept of stewardship in the LDS church that is tightly bound to the concept of revelation. Generally speaking, people are only entitled to revelation pertaining to their stewardship. For a LDS woman that would be her family and her callings (church assignments). Most people I know would say that she is not entitled to revelation for the entire church. Only the prophet and his immediate advisors may receive such revelation as their stewardship includes the entire membership of the church.
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Nelson Elis
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quote:
You jest
It's more that my tongue gets caught in my cheek from time to time.
quote:
Men do not hold a monopoly on passing judgements.
No, but certain men claim to hold a monopoly on passing binding judgments upon others in the name of God.
quote:
Women can certainly declare things in God's name, and those things are binding.

Can they declare their judgments as the binding will of God?

Can they declare judgment on their fellow saints, and revoke the right to salvific sacraments? Can they kick a fellow soul out of God's kingdom for disobeying their counsel?
quote:
The key ingredient is not whether the gender of the spokesperson is male, it's whether God was indeed speaking through that individual.
I'm not certain what we're cooking, but I would suppose that the key ingredient in any kind of fare is whether one is recognized as having the authority to speak for God, in a way that is recognized to be binding for other individuals.

And you do realize how fatuous platitudes like "what matters is whether God is speaking through an individual" sound, when the example at hand is a woman claiming that God is speaking through her, and church authorities revoked her access to the sacraments of salvation, and kicked her out of her religious community for saying what she believes, with the explicit reasoning being NOT that what she was saying doesn't actually come from God, but that what she was saying resulted in other members believing her, and that it was causing such members to experience doubt that the patriarchy has the exclusive right to speak to God's will?

From where I'm sitting, it seems clear that what really matters is preserving the exclusivity of the right to speak for God that the boy's club of mormon authority has arrogated for itself.

[ June 29, 2014, 04:03 PM: Message edited by: Nelson Elis ]

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BlackBlade
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I'm not loving having my words called "fatuous platitudes". Just as you probably would not appreciate my dismissing your words as ingrate malcontentment.

Perhaps you are better versed than me in Sister Kelly's position, but I don't recall her saying that she has had a revelation from God in the sense that she has written out or spoken it to a group of people. Rather she feels that ordaining women to the priesthood is consistent with scripture and that she personally feels through the spirit it's God's will.

quote:
a woman claiming that God is speaking through her, and church authorities revoked her access to the sacraments of salvation, and kicked her out of her religious community for saying what she believes, with the explicit reasoning being NOT that what she was saying doesn't actually come from God, but that what she was saying resulted in other members believing her, and that it was causing such members to experience doubt that the patriarchy has the exclusive right to speak to God's will?
Until we sort out the "Speaking for God" assertion, I'm not sure it's useful to follow the rest of this statement.

quote:
From where I'm sitting, it seems clear that what really matters is preserving the exclusivity of the right to speak for God that the boy's club of mormon authority has arrogated for itself.
I disagree. I think it's more likely the leaders of the church feel that the decision not to ordain women is a function of God's will, not that they personally have any ethical qualms with women being ordained to the priesthood, or fear women having authority.
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Samprimary
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quote:
From where I'm sitting, it seems clear that what really matters is preserving the exclusivity of the right to speak for God that the boy's club of mormon authority has arrogated for itself.
it is never this simple nor would that be how they consciously understand their motivation. so that's not what would matter to them at all.
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Nelson Elis
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quote:
I'm not loving having my words called "fatuous platitudes"
I apologize for offending. I have a personality disorder where I sometimes say things I think regardless of how it might make others feel.

I can see how such language can offend, and ask your pardon, since it has. My intent was to give a sense of why my tongue is sometimes wrung so wry in my responses to you.
quote:
as you probably would not appreciate my dismissing your words as ingrate malcontentment.
Hmm. People have dismissed my words as worse before. I can usually appreciate where they're coming from, even if it generally means that there is a great gulf between our respective modes of understanding.

I suppose my reaction would probably depend on the context. For instance, if you asked me if I realized how ungrateful my malcontentment sounded, my level of appreciation for the characterization would probably depend on whether I could see that I was being ungratefully malcontent, and whether I could appreciate how cheery gratitude would be a more appropriate disposition, in context.

Since you bring it up, is there a contextual reason that my disposition toward mormon authority should more appropriately be one of gratitude, rather that malcontentment?
quote:
Perhaps you are better versed than me in Sister Kelly's position, but I don't recall her saying that she has had a revelation from God in the sense that she has written out or spoken it to a group of people.
I don't recall saying that she was claiming to be a formal revelator, either. What I meant with the phrase "God is speaking through her" is that I understand that she has claimed that she believes that the spirit of God has inspired her actions.

I don't think that a formal revelation incident of some specific kind is requisite in order to characterize her claims the way I did.

In any case, if the issue were really about whether or not her actions and advocacy were indeed inspired by God, she wouldn't have gotten told in her excommunication letter that her allegedly inspired beliefs were not the problem.

The letter makes it very clear that the central issue in the excommunication decision isn't about whether her actions were legitimately inspired by God.
quote:
quote:
From where I'm sitting, it seems clear that what really matters is preserving the exclusivity of the right to speak for God that the boy's club of mormon authority has arrogated for itself.
I disagree. I think it's more likely the leaders of the church feel that the decision not to ordain women is a function of God's will, not that they personally have any ethical qualms with women being ordained to the priesthood, or fear women having authority.
I didn't suggest that church authorities were gynophobic. I implied that their priority is the preservation of the tenability of their own exclusive claim to divine authority.

[ June 30, 2014, 12:57 AM: Message edited by: Nelson Elis ]

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Nelson Elis
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quote:
it is never this simple nor would that be how they consciously understand their motivation. so that's not what would matter to them at all.
I couldn't speak to what they consciously understand their motivations to be. And the way I worded my statement may have been misleading: I wasn't trying to imply that the core intent is to exclude women--I meant that the priority is about preserving the integrity of their exclusive claim to speak for God, as opposed to determining whether God is indeed behind the message at hand.

And I'm not idly speculating--the letter of excommunication makes it pretty clear what the priority of the authorities in the case actually is.

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BlackBlade
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Nelson: Apology accepted. [Smile] I will try to keep your disorder in mind when we discuss things so that I afford you more patience.

quote:
Since you bring it up, is there a contextual reason that my disposition toward mormon authority should more appropriately be one of gratitude, rather that malcontentment?
I wouldn't presume to tell you how your disposition towards Mormon general authorities ought to be. Having no clue what your life experiences have been as they pertain to that.

It's not really useful for me (I think) to tell you how you ought to feel about opinions anyway. What matters to me is understanding where you are coming from, and communicating my own place to you.

quote:
I don't recall saying that she was claiming to be a formal revelator, either. What I meant with the phrase "God is speaking through her" is that I understand that she has claimed that she believes that the spirit of God has inspired her actions.
Well saying you feel inspired is a different kettle of fish from a formal revelation is it not? I routinely hear people say that they are inspired to say things that after hearing, my own sense of inspiration says, "NOPE!" That was a huge struggle of mine when the leadership of the church started presenting Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution, and Prop 8 to California's. It's still something I reflect on and wrestle with daily.

If Sis. Kelly has a unique revelation that sidesteps the established revelatory channel we all sustain as members of the church, that can only happen if the leadership of the church has totally fallen into apostasy (a serious claim to be sure).

But that's the interesting thing about being excommunicated. If she is right in what she is doing, the Stake President and Bishop's decision won't matter at all in a spiritual sense. People who should not have been excommunicated have been before. It is only if they are right that she need reconsider what she is doing. Whether she is right or the general authorities is a subject I am presently undertaking in my own meditations. I hope to get an answer.

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BlackBlade
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Oh, snap. I seem to have passed 14,000 posts without realizing it.
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quote:
afr,

quote:
Well, whatever. I think you're trying to stuff what I just said into what you want it to mean. These aren't prison guards and they aren't military commanders. It's not a prison, nor it is the military. Members are not sworn to take orders, nor are they forced to do so. If you are approaching a cliff, the signs warning you that there is a cliff ahead are not necessarily giving you orders. Yet if you choose to ignore the signs' warnings, you will have to deal with the consequences.
I admit this peeved me enough that I stepped away from the conversation for awhile. I feel your response was unnecessarily dismissive and flippant, but on further thought it seemed likely it was due to a misunderstanding.

To clarify, my point was not that counsel is akin to military orders, or to liken the Mormon church to prison. It was simply to highlight the usual definitions of the word 'order' versus a word such as 'counsel', and to point out that many of your reasons for why counseling shouldn't be considered an order would apply equally well to things everyone considers orders without question, such as orders in the military.

I apologize for my tone there. It was at the point where I was starting to feel the dog pile coming. I try to keep that tone out of my posts here (although I have often been the recipient of it myself) but I was starting to feel pretty frustrated right then. I guess I still bristle at the implication that what's going on in such a conversation between a bishop and a ward member, say, is comparable to a prisoner being given the "choice" between obedience or death. Orders without question is definitely not a good description of such an exchange. Honestly, I couldn't care less if the right word is "counsel" or something else. Whatever word would best describe it, it's not a place where members are being given orders, even implied--because the purpose of the exchange is not ultimately coercion or force.

You've never been anything but respectful to me, Rakeesh, while always giving me plenty to think about. So again, I apologize for being short with you.

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Nelson Elis
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quote:
Well saying you feel inspired is a different kettle of fish from a formal revelation is it not?
Yup.

Specifically, it seems like the fish in the latter kettle are probably red herrings.

I wasn't the one that brought up "revelation." I asked if women could come to binding judgments in God's name, you responded by suggesting that what really matters isn't gender, it's whether God is speaking through the person.

I tried to spin your response (which seemed like a bit of a non sequitur to me) back to the topic, but we seem to be on different tracks...

Rather than continuing to hash through the tangent, I'll simply note that my initial question was rhetorical: as I understand it, in the LDS view of authority, women don't have the power to make binding judgments in God's name.

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
It's not a theologically unsound concept to me. I imagine the church's response would be mixed. I would listen and pray over the matter.

There are many instances of the church going astray and God sending someone to bear witness of the truth. I don't think the leaders are remotely that out of touch with God however.

Saying the Church's response would be mixed is very generous, I think. Latter-day revelation has been pretty clear on the matter: revelation comes through the proper channels.
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Samprimary
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related conclusion to process within religious orthodoxy

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/14/church-england-general-synod-approves-female-bishops?CMP=twt_gu

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Rakeesh
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Afr,

No apologies necessary. Naturally you're more invested in this subject than I am, and you are on the receiving end of more criticism in this context.

quote:
I apologize for my tone there. It was at the point where I was starting to feel the dog pile coming. I try to keep that tone out of my posts here (although I have often been the recipient of it myself) but I was starting to feel pretty frustrated right then. I guess I still bristle at the implication that what's going on in such a conversation between a bishop and a ward member, say, is comparable to a prisoner being given the "choice" between obedience or death. Orders without question is definitely not a good description of such an exchange. Honestly, I couldn't care less if the right word is "counsel" or something else. Whatever word would best describe it, it's not a place where members are being given orders, even implied--because the purpose of the exchange is not ultimately coercion or force.
The comparison is not valid, I think, because both are equally coercive or immoral. After all, obviously a bishop or other church official won't have the authority to bludgeon or pepper spray or torture (excuse me, 'solitary confinement') a wayward member of their church. The comparison is valid because there is, well, an element of coercion in both. Not nearly the same, of course, but I chose such incendiary examples because they were incendiary, to illustrate that coercion is not a black and white thing. There's degrees.

For example, on the far end of non-coercion, I might send a blind email to someone attempting to persuade them to, say, vote for a given candidate. Let's take it further-I send such an email to a New Zealand citizen. Setting aside the weirdness of this, no coercion at all there. It's all persuasion. On the end of maximum coercion, you might have a military officer at some points and places in history with a pistol aimed at the back of advancing infantry in front of him, threatening them with summary execution if they don't continue to advance. Setting aside the needs of war and such, this is just about maximum coercion-a specific demand backed by a serious and immediate threat of violence.

Then there are examples of counseling such as Dogbreath mentioned. His example is especially useful, I think, since it's in a military context that is adjacent to much stronger and less persuasion-oriented examples of coercion. In the sort of counseling he mentioned, the threat is not immediate, not guaranteed, and not really one of violence or incarceration, but there is an understood threat there as well-an understanding of coercion: 'if you don't do these things or take steps towards doing so, there will be consequences'. It doesn't matter whether or not the person counseling is entirely in the moral, ethical, and military right and the one being counseled couldn't be more wrong. There is still a threat (or a promise, if you like) of a negative consequence if one doesn't make some changes. The way you have described counseling in a church context sounds not very dissimilar to what Dogbreath described. Less structured, less rigid, more ambiguous-but both the bishop and the one being counseled certainly understand that they're there because there's a problem, and if this problem isn't resolved, there will be negative consequences beyond simply the bishop's disapproval.

Incidentally coercion does not need to be completely free of a carrot to still be coercive. In all the examples mentioned here, there are incentives as well as disincentives. Sometimes those incenvitives are marginal to say the least, even simply a difference in degree of punishment, but they're there.

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Dogbreath
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Going a step further, one could argue any advice given when one person holds some authority over someone else - whether pastor/churchmember, teacher/student, boss/employee, officer/soldier, psychiatrist/patient, doctor/patient, etc. - can be seen as coercion. Which is why fraternization is actually a crime you can go to jail for in the military, and you can loose your license, or get fired, or sued in almost any of the other context. Or in a case I discussed a while back, get charged with rape. (The rather disturbing pastor who convinced a girl he was "counseling" that Jesus wanted her to sleep with him)

This is because, whether spoken, implied, or even intended, there's always a very real psychological force carried by comments in those situations. "He hits on me and it makes me uncomfortable, but I don't want to say anything because I could loose my promotion." "I don't really want to go to her party this weekend, but if I say no, maybe she'll pass me over or fire me", "I don't really like the way he touches my arm and looks at me, but he might give me an F on my paper if I don't smile back." These reasons and more are why I try to stay somewhat distant and professional at work, because I don't want my Marines to feel like they have to be my buddy to earn my approval.

So if I have the ability to excommunicate you, i.e, I can choose to cut you off from your church, your community, and your way of life, any friendly advice I give you, even the most innocuous, seemingly inert thing, will hold far more weight than, say, an intense counseling session from a peer.

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Dogbreath
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(And note in the above examples, in every single one of them the coercion could be entirely unintentional. I.e, your Sergeant might simply feel embarrassed and apologize if you ask him to stop flirting with you, your boss might be secretly relieved you turned down her invitation, and react perfectly normally, your teacher may simply be a touchy feeley person, and may thank you for letting him know so he doesn't make anyone else uncomfortable. The point is that they're all still inappropriate because the implied threat is still present, and the threatened person doesn't know if the gun is loaded, so to speak)

(1000 posts!!!!! And it only took me 5 1/2 years [Wink] )

[ July 15, 2014, 06:12 AM: Message edited by: Dogbreath ]

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BlackBlade
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[Big Grin]
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quote:
Less structured, less rigid, more ambiguous-but both the bishop and the one being counseled certainly understand that they're there because there's a problem, and if this problem isn't resolved, there will be negative consequences beyond simply the bishop's disapproval.
I saw similarities with Dogbreath's military counseling example as well. If you call this coercion, even if it's on the light end of the coercion scale, then it's a terminology thing we've been disagreeing on. I see coercion as someone in a position of authority using whatever leverage they have to force a person in their charge to do something against their will. That's different, IMO, than even what you've described in what I quoted above--what I assume you're calling coercion on the light end of the scale.

You said the hypothetical conversation might be as follows: "if you don't do these things or take steps towards doing so, there will be consequences," and that that conversation carries an understanding of coercion. I don't see that situation as coercive or necessarily leading to some coercive situation. A member of the military is being told by her commander that something she is doing is in violation of some military code or rules. She is being given the opportunity--the choice--to correct her behavior and avoid the consequences written into said rules for when they are broken. Will it be the commander who would have to carry out the prescribed punishment? Possibly. Does that mean the commander is coercing her to act a certain way? IMO, no. The commander isn't using any more leverage with this soldier than what the soldier agreed to abide by when she joined the military.

If the commander took it further and told the soldier, "Listen, if you don't act a certain way, I'm going to make your life hell, and I know just where to squeeze," then that would be a form of coercion. But that is not automatically implied in the session where the soldier is being informed of impending consequences of misbehavior.

I feel that any organization that runs on specific sets of rules and that has prescribed methods of action for certain situations (i.e. almost any organization with a definite mission and central structure) has to handle cases like this in an orderly manner or fall apart because they're doing nothing to maintain their integrity. Any HR generalist is going to have the same kind of conversation with an employee who's crossed the line--they're not being coercive any more than a bishop having that conversation with a member who has crossed the line. In both cases, the member knows full well what the rules are and has agreed to be subject to them in order to be a member in good standing of the organization. You really can't maintain an organization's integrity without members who follow its rules.

I do resent the implication that any such situation (pastor/churchmember, teacher/student, boss/employee, officer/soldier, psychiatrist/patient, doctor/patient, commander/subordinate, etc.) is coercion. It could easily be used for coercion. But that doesn't automatically make it coercion. I am strongly opposed to such abuse of any such relationship, just to make that clear, and I definitely see a line between a normal leader/member relationship and a coercive one.

quote:
So if I have the ability to excommunicate you, i.e, I can choose to cut you off from your church, your community, and your way of life, any friendly advice I give you, even the most innocuous, seemingly inert thing, will hold far more weight than, say, an intense counseling session from a peer.
That's a big oversimplification and not super accurate. A member will usually meet with their bishop first, the leader of their local congregation, or ward. The bishop really is going to do his level best to help that person make the changes he needs to make to continue in full fellowship in the church. You're right, it's a weighty matter, and nothing's really innocuous in such a series of conversations. However, and I want to make this clear if I haven't before--we're not talking about the bishop's caprices here, as you've implied, but the choices the member has made on his own.

If what the member has already done is a grave enough violation of church rules and policy, or if over time the member fails to correct his course of actions as the bishop has prescribed, the bishop will refer the member to the stake president, who has the authority to determine what action from the church's standpoint will be taken regarding the member. The stake president will likely interview the member to a considerable extent, possibly with the bishop present as the member's advocate, so that he can make the most informed decision possible.

This is how such matters are handled. I don't see why you wouldn't expect the church, like any organization, to have mechanisms in place to deal with the breaking of its rules and policies. If you are approaching this from the standpoint of the beliefs and commandments from the divine that the church adheres to as being empty and worthless when it comes to deciding some cases of church membership, then I guess it doesn't matter what I say here. But those are well known, agreed to, and taught regularly by church members and are necessary for continued good standing in the church. Church members in the situation of possible excommunication are there because the actions they've chosen to take are in grave violation of some church policy well known to them, not because some leader wants to hold their life in his hands.

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Dogbreath
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I was actually arguing your side somewhat - since any conversation between a subordinate and an authority figure (or even more basically, between anyone who has power over someone else, in any way) is, at least somewhat, coercive, it's something of a moot point. [Smile] It does put a huge amount of responsibility on the authority figure to be careful with how s/he counsels and advises someone, since it can and will be taken much differently than advice or counsel from a peer. I feel like a lot of workplace drama is caused by bosses who don't actively take this into account.
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You're absolutely right--the perception of such situations from the outside often turns them into something with sinister overtones, and it's easy to assume the worst possible motives. And the authority figure does have to tread carefully to avoid crossing lines or having counsel taken in the wrong way.
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Nelson Elis
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quote:
I do resent the implication that any such situation (pastor/churchmember, teacher/student, boss/employee, officer/soldier, psychiatrist/patient, doctor/patient, commander/subordinate, etc.) is coercion.
According to the dictionary, coercion is the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

If "counsel" effectively boils down to telling an individual to modify their behavior, in a way which is involuntary, at the threat of excommunication, then it is definitively "coercion," regardless of how much we may resent the lexical law of the Logos.

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