Okay, I’ve read the press release, and I’ve heard the replies. I have friends on both sides. So here are my thoughts for different groups outlined for each:
Ordain Women members:
I don’t get it. I mean, I get wanting the priesthood, but why not just leave and go to the Community of Christ. I’m not saying that you should leave, but I look at the testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and say, “It’s really similar”. I mean, like your family has been shopping at Walmart for generations, but Target is in the same parking lot, and sells stuff that is very similar. Why not switch? Yes, stand where you are, but if you stop shopping at Walmart, and move your business to Target, it ALSO changes things.
I’m sure you are able to come up with reasons, but I want the point made, that you are sticking with this organization for reasons that may not be completely up to you. Perhaps it’s the peer pressure on family. Maybe you have a testimony of Mr. Monson specifically, (although I’d challenge you to pray over the leadership of the Community of Christ, after studying it out in your mind first). But I think the main reason you are staying in an organization that disrespects you and your goals is because of cultish behaviors the organization used on you.
When groups use these behaviors, even when the group is wrong about end of the world dates, people become more committed. And I’ve seen several facebook posts and Joanna Brooks statement that the church refusing to allow the protesters in has rededicated people to the cause.
Just think, Target is across the street, it’s cheaper; and you’d get beer in the deal. Just saying.
To the LDS who rush to defense of the church
Stop it. Just stop it. You’re bullying and supporting an organization that is bullying a minority. Women who dare to want to ask for ordination are easy targets.
If you cannot state any reason why women should not be ordained beyond “The leaders said so” or “God says so” you’re making the church more cult-like.
NOTICE: I DID NOT SAY THE CHURCH WAS A CULT. I am not attacking the church. I’m attacking the behavior that drives the church to be more cult-like.
You see, the word “cult” is almost useless because of how emotionally charged it is. However, there are behaviors identified by groups as harmful for being “cult-like”. Here is the big 9 (source Cults 101 + the Human Givens institute for number 9):
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (In this case, Men over Women)
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary.
- The group discourages learning
Now let’s see how the LDS who rush to the church’s defense create a cult-like atmosphere
First, they unquestioningly support the status quo. They state that “God wants it that way” despite there being no scriptural backing for women not holding the priesthood (beyond perhaps 1 Timothy 2:12, where it says that women shouldn’t even speak in church, but I don’t think any members seriously hold with that scripture or else the Relief Society would be a problem.). Second, they are telling these women they shouldn’t question the status quo. No doubt in how things are today is permitted. I don’t think the third point applies. But in the forth, I think that the Ordain Women press release did try to tell the members how to think and feel. That they should accept their roles (or rolls) and not be unhappy about it. I will wager that the church will even have a talk to this effect during conference.
But the LDS member who rushes in defense of the church commonly states something similar as well, saying “Women who want the priesthood are thinking wrong” or “They should be content”. Thought and emotional control is implicit if not explicitly stated in most posts.
That the group that is “With the leadership” often uses tone of voice to imply they are better than (“I never wanted the priesthood!”) the other group is also cult-like in nature. That posts and discussion of it often makes statements such as “He’s the prophet, no one should tell him what to do but Jesus” hits right on the head for the 7th and 8th traits of a cult. The prophet should be held accountable to the membership, that’s what Joseph Smith taught in the law of common consent. If the membership voted for something even against a revelation he let it stand.
And now the ever famous number 9. This wasn’t listed on Cult 101, but it’s often cited that the number of degrees and love of learning of the LDS implies the religion is not a cult by members, so I wanted to cover it.
Specifically, if you are a scientist, or a lawyer or a historian; if your profession is computer programmer or zoologist; and your reasoning is “Because God said so” or “Because the brethren say it should be that way” you are guilty of making the church more cult-like. You have the learning, but you have to apply it.
Take your profession and apply it to the question at hand. Would a computer programmer accept that only women can program in C++ because the CEO said so? Does the historian simply ignore that women ordained and blessed people in the church until into the early 1900’s. Does the seminary teacher ignore that there is NO revelation (That I’ve been able to find) actually stating that women are forbidden from the priesthod? Does the scientist appeal to authority rather than construct an experiment (Double blind ordinations and healing where the person being blessed does not know if it is done by a man or a woman, for example to see if God heals at the same rate regardless of gender. A/B testing with placebos, good enough for websites and penicillin tests, should also help with God, yes?)
My point is if you turn your brain off, shout down the voices that raise questions and rush to the status quo with blog posts and testimonies all based solely on a leadership decree, it’s bullying and making the church a worse place.
Please follow your leader’s advice and “Just Stop it”.