Breaking the Patriarchal Grip

an argument for governance equality through sacred disobedience

Sonia Johnson, LDS Feminism Activist

By Brad Carmack First drafted in May, 2012


Table of Contents
Breaking the Patriarchal Grip:..............................................................................................................1 an argument for governance equality through sacred disobedience .........................................................1 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................4 Part I: Gendered Theology...................................................................................................................5 1. The Problem ...............................................................................................................................5 Sexism in Zion.................................................................................................................................5 The Closed Door Problem................................................................................................................6 You can buy anything in this world with assumptions ....................................................................7 Boy or Girl? ....................................................................................................................................8 We decide a person’s spiritual sex based on appearance ...............................................................9 Harm to the dignity interest of women ....................................................................................... 11 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................ 15 2. A Philosophy of Anatomy, Mingled with Scripture ....................................................................... 16 Why all the dog whistles? .......................................................................................................... 18 Putting our trust in the arm of flesh ............................................................................................... 18 Stop hiring astrologists to manage your theology! .......................................................................... 20 We can still identify as male or female........................................................................................ 27 Legal astrologists....................................................................................................................... 28 Politics at the COB..................................................................................................................... 30 A plug for gender freedom......................................................................................................... 37 A plug for marriage equality ....................................................................................................... 40 Annotations .............................................................................................................................. 42 Political neutrality......................................................................................................................... 43 ERA .......................................................................................................................................... 43 GAA.......................................................................................................................................... 44 GAA and the English Language Lobby............................................................................................. 47 We are all intergender; we are all intersex ..................................................................................... 48 Sex v. gender............................................................................................................................. 48 We are all intersex..................................................................................................................... 50 Sex and gender are spectral, not binary ...................................................................................... 57 Gender performance ................................................................................................................. 58 The curse of Cain....................................................................................................................... 61 Mormons’ strange bedfellow: why the obsession with genitals? .................................................. 62 1

Why only one appearance-based spiritual judgment?.................................................................. 65 Keeping tabs on the losers ......................................................................................................... 66 Post-hoc justificaturbating ......................................................................................................... 69 Never confuse certainty for proof............................................................................................... 76 Conclusion.................................................................................................................................... 78 3. LDS, Inc..................................................................................................................................... 79 Corporate succession .................................................................................................................... 81 Part II: On Activism ........................................................................................................................... 86 4. Towards LDS Feminism .............................................................................................................. 86 Rebuttals to Common Anti Equality Arguments .............................................................................. 86 Women make great bishops....................................................................................................... 90 Why are we behind the curve?................................................................................................... 92 Some more iniquities inequities ................................................................................................. 95 Get mad already! ...................................................................................................................... 97 Lessons from Bottgate .................................................................................................................. 97 Future PR Department Statement: We Aren’t Sexist Anymore ..................................................... 99 Further light ............................................................................................................................... 100 Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 103 5. Why Sacred Disobedience? ...................................................................................................... 104 Can we still have Relief Society though? ................................................................................... 105 The rising generation............................................................................................................... 106 Authority- it’s all in your head .................................................................................................. 110 Media = power........................................................................................................................ 112 Try something different ........................................................................................................... 113 Tactics analysis: sacred disobedience and direct action.............................................................. 113 Death by a thousand cuts......................................................................................................... 114 Just be patient ........................................................................................................................ 115 Think in decades...................................................................................................................... 117 Direct action and Satyagraha.................................................................................................... 117 Now’s the time........................................................................................................................ 118 Conclusion.................................................................................................................................. 119 6. Why 2012 is the year to act, plus some tangible activism proposals............................................ 120 Ordaining women.................................................................................................................... 120 Suggested acts ........................................................................................................................ 125 Why not stick with “soft” tactics?............................................................................................. 127 2

Prepare for the consequences.................................................................................................. 128 7. Why I Believe .......................................................................................................................... 130 Why I care about this issue ...................................................................................................... 130 Why I stay............................................................................................................................... 131 Willing to bear one another’s burdens ...................................................................................... 132 Activism Résumé ..................................................................................................................... 135 Appendix A: Sex Determination ....................................................................................................... 138 Sex Determination ...................................................................................................................... 138 Epigenetics ............................................................................................................................. 139 Appendix B: Female Ordination Debate ........................................................................................... 141 In opposition to female ordination:.............................................................................................. 141 In support of female ordination: .................................................................................................. 142


On December 1, 1955, a woman boarded a bus after her workday at the department store. The woman was 42 years old, and the bus, #2857, was just a normal city bus that normally brought workers to and from their normal jobs in a normal city. The normal bus was driven by a normal man with a normal name: James Blake. The woman boarded at a normal time, about 6 pm on a normal Thursday, paid her normal fare, and did a very normal thing: she sat down in an empty seat. Part way through the ride, she moved to the window seat. That was all very normal: until she got arrested.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks boarded bus #2857 as a normal passenger, and disembarked a heroine of the civil rights movement. Her city of Montgomery had passed an ordinance half a century earlier empowering conductors to enforce racial segregation by assigning seats. Usually the first four rows were reserved for white people, and black passengers could sit in the middle rows until the white section was full- then they had to stand, move to the rear, or get off. A simple, movable "colored section" sign could be moved based on the passenger profile. On December 1, the bus filled up, and a few wh ite men were left standing. In harmony with custom, long-time bus driver James Blake moved the sign back one rowthe row where Rosa Parks and three other black people sat. James said, "Y'all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats." Three immediately complied. Rosa did not. The rest, as they say, is history.


And it is that "the rest" upon which I will focus in this work. Rosa's act accelerated the progress of the civil rights movement. Analogizing to her act of disobedience, I will argue that consensus objectives of the Mormon feminist movement (such as governance equality) will be realized earlier if more LDS feminists perform meaningful acts of sacred disobedience 1 .

Part I: Gendered Theology contains three chapters. Chapter 1 will discuss the problem of governance inequality; Chapter 2 LDS reliance on the gender binary; and Chapter 3, why I use the term, “LDS Inc.” Then I begin Part II: On Activism. In Chapter 4, I discuss evidences of sexism in the LDS tradition and argue for governance equality. Chapter 5 illustrates why sacred disobedience is important and effective. In Chapter 6 I suggest specific activism campaigns. Chapter 7 contains my heterodox testimony, Appendix A a primer on sex determination, and Appendix B an extended debate about ordaining women.

Part I: Gendered Theology 1. The Problem
He doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

- 2 Nephi 26:33
In my Master of Public Administration program at BYU, I took a course in Decision Analysis taught by my friend and mentor, Dr. Don Adolphson. If there was one thing I remembered from that course, it was his constant emphasis on "defining the problem." He stressed that, most of the time, decision makers are madly hacking through the wrong section of the rainforest because they didn't take the time at the beginning to "define the problem." So, what is the problem in the LDS community on the feminism score? Isn't all well in Zion?

Sexism in Zion
Here is a sample of current practices and precepts:  "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."


I borrow the term “sacred disobedience” from Lorie Winder Stromberg


Premortally our spirits were unembodied. We are taught that our very spirits were gendered before we obtained bodies. Elder Bednar underscored this necessary deduction that each human spirit is either male or female: "[Gender] in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary. … The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness” (“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” Liahona, June 2006, 51; Ensign, June 2006, 83). In the temple ceremony Latter-day Saints learn that women lack the direct access to God that men have. They must subordinate themselves by covenant through their husbands and be validated by a male before they can enter God's presence. Women lose their individuality and the power of facial expression by veiling their faces. The male in charge addresses men, not women, and directs them to “take” the female at their side in an explicitly male grip. No female ever enters the celestial room without a male literally penetrating the veil to receive her. The scriptures are replete with almost exclusively masculine language. The divine feminine is suppressed in LDS dialogue. We read of fathers writing to and blessing their sons, of the great patriarchs securing privileges for their male progeny, and, on the grand stage, of a male Heavenly Father and His (male) Son. Given that women constitute at least half of humanity, it is fair to say they are underrepresented in LDS canon. The total number of women in all the general governance boards of the church such as the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, Quorums of Seventy, Stake Presidencies, High Councils, and Bishoprics, is zero. Women receive callings at the hands of men, ordinances at the hands of men, and are always supervised at some level by the oversight of men. Men never receive callings, ordinances, or oversight at the hands of women. Women are taught that this male dominance will never end either in this life or the next.

But, isn't this all as it should be? Aren't our practices and teachings accurate reflections of the true order of heaven? I think the answer is a resounding "we don't know." The fact that each of us has a spiritual sex may indeed be a salvific and vital doctrine. Heck, it may even be true. However, the doctrine never makes it through the starting gate into real life, because we simply have no way to discern spiritual sex. I'll say it again- we have no way to discern spiritual sex. We do not have a theology of gender in our faith- we have an assumption of gender. Please permit an illustration.

The Closed Door Problem
You are brought to a closed door. Behind that door is a church member who recently turned 12. You are responsible for discerning the spiritual sex of that person so that they will be properly directed for the rest of their LDS life, either down the Deacon-Teacher-Priest-etc. track, or the Beehive-Mia Maid-Laureletc. track. Which do you send the member to- Beehives or Deacons' Quorum?


I'm waiting. Yep, waiting. Are you still there? "All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.” – Joseph Fielding Smith (editor), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 355 Has God revealed spiritual sex to us? If so, why are we not willing to solve the Closed Door Problem, and declare one’s spiritual sex without using bodies? I think if we are candid we will confess that we will want to know a little bit more about the person before we make that judgment. We might want to look at them, for instance. If we wanted to be doubly sure, we might ask their parents what kind of equipment they have in the genital region, am I right? In short, we would base our judgment entirely on the most temporal and superficial aspect of the person: our visual first impression of their "outward appearance." "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." – 2 Corinthians 2:13 You can buy anything in this world with assumptions We all know you can’t row up the creek without a paddle. Similarly, Latter-day Saints CANNOT apply our recently-articulated Spiritual Sex Doctrine without first making a determination of spiritual sex. However, we don’t even have hands to grab the paddle with, not to mention the paddle itself! Instead,


all we have is an assumption; namely, that our appearance-based discernment of physical sex matches a subject’s spiritual sex. It’s like trusting a blind man to sort your crayons by color. Plus, even if we had reason to correlate the two, our appearance-based test fails fabulously.

Boy or Girl?
Why does our paddle fail to row us up the creek? We simply have no test which places each individual neatly into EITHER box A OR box B, which is precisely what the Family Proclamation's (rather new) Spiritual Sex Doctrine requires2! Don't believe my claim that we don’t have an adequate litmus test? Try your hand at these. Priesthood or Relief Society?

A: has a penis and a vagina B: has a penis, testicles, and breasts C: looks like a woman; genetically male (e.g. Santhi Soundarajan) D: looks like a man; genetically female E: XXY genetically; physically appears male F: XXY genetically; physically appears female G: X_; appears male H: X_; appears female I: XX + translocated SRY; appears male

if sex is an aspect of our premortal identity, then it must be our spirit’s sex that is dispositive, as we were unembodied premortally. 8

J: appears female, has testicles where ovaries should be and doesn't menstruate K: appears female; K claims to be male psychologically and spiritually L: penis and a vagina; L claims to be male psychologically and spiritually M: penis and a vagina; M claims to be female psychologically and spiritually N: appears male; N claims to be both male and female psychologicall y and spiritually O: appears female; O claims to be neither male nor female psychologically/spiritually P: has a penis and a uterus; menstruates through the penis

The effort to dice people up into two neat boxes falls flat on its face. It's like trying to discretize race when deciding which men can get the priesthood- exactly what percentage of melanin concentration in the skin is low enough to qualify you? What if you have darker skin than a member of African descent, but are, say, a very dark Polynesian? What if you have a trace level of African ancestry 3, or perhaps you don't know the first thing about your ancestry? Where are these vital boundaries? The important result here is that we are forced at some point to throw up our hands. At that juncture, rather than rolling up our sleeves and going back to the drawing board to find ways to more thoroughly bifurcate humanity into two classes, it's better to just abandon the entire criterion. American law provides an excellent and familiar precedent, in that it has almost entirely abandoned race as being relevant to any kind of allocation. And even if we did have a way to completely bifurcate humanity, we still don't have a good reason to map particular roles onto the result. People made that argument against women's suffrage 120 years ago: "Men and women are different, you can't just ignore reality. Therefore, only men should vote." The missing logic here, of course, is why a particular difference should result in a particular unequal treatment. What is it about having a stubby genital tubercle that justifies the practice of excluding women from voting? Is there some civic responsibility in that extra inch of external tissue? We decide a person’s spiritual sex based on appearance Race and sex dichotomies are both based on visual first impressions. These anatomy-based snap judgments feel very natural to us, as evolution equipped most human brains with potent, lightning-quick visual heuristic software (e.g. our subconscious discernments of male/female, or facial recognition).

ALL of us trace back to Africa anyway, turns out.


However, we have some very good historical examples demonstrating why we should NOT trust our native software on this matter. Specifically, we've seen the kind of trouble that comes when we map roles based on anatomy. Thanks go to a couple of LDS presidents, including my alma mater's namesake, Brigham Young, for illustrating the pitfalls of anatomy-based theology: "Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin… We knew that the children of Ham were to be the "servant of servants," and no power under heaven could hinder it." 4 Anatomy: Black skin and flat nose Mapped role: "servant of servants" Good/bad idea: BAD IDEA And Joseph Fielding Smith: "There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less." 5 Anatomy: Black skin Mapped role: Lack of faithfulness in the premortal existence Good/bad idea: VERY BAD IDEA How about the current status quo, which treats vagina-endowed individuals differently based on their presumed lack of maleness in the premortal existence? Anatomy: Long external genital tubercle (i.e. penis) Mapped role: Fit for the LDS governance table Anatomy: Short external genital tubercle (i.e. a clitoris) Mapped role: Unfit for the LDS governance table Good/bad idea: ? Anatomy Black skin + flat nose Black skin Long external genital tubercle Mapped Role Servant of servants Lack of premortal faithfulness Fit for the LDS governance table Good/Bad Idea BAD VERY BAD ?


October 9, 1859: Brigham Young, during a conference talk in the Tabernacle, as recorded in the Jour nal of Discourses 7:282. 5 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:61, 65-66.


Short external genital Unfit for the LDS tubercle governance table


Is one superficial aspect of appearance (shape) more dispositive of a spiritual trait than another (skin color? The church’s “official statement” on race is entitled Race and the Church: All Are Alike Unto God 6 . This title refers to 2 Nephi 26:33, which in turn explicitly names four dyads that God does not discriminate between. One of those four is black/white; a second of those four is male/female. The pamphlet dedicates over half of its four-paragraph content to the subject of priesthood availability. We cite 2 Nephi 26:33 on race, and IN THE PAMPHLET tout our egalitarian priesthood allocation practice. However, glaringly, another category explicitly listed in the same verse is categorically denied Melchizedek priesthood office. Am I the only one who hops up and down at this bizarre inconsistency?

Race discrimination no, sex discrimination yes? You cannot be serious!

Brothers and sisters, when will we learn our lesson and stop allocating Melchizedek priesthood office based on superficial physical traits? Body shape is no more worthy a discriminator than body color. It's time to eliminate sex-based discrimination in our governance, just as we eliminated race-based discrimination in our governance in 1978. Harm to the dignity interest of women Gender is a construct- and that includes spiritual gender. Construct means it's fabricated. It's made up! It doesn't exist inherently in any way we're comfortable basing consequential discernments on (remember the Closed Door Problem). And right now, mapping the role of high-level governance onto only those who have long external genital tubercles evidences a deep inequality. The main "bitter fruit" of this governance inequality is the harm it inflicts on the dignity interest of women. I evidence this dignitary harm in three ways.



Women are people too First, and it is painful but necessary to point this out: women are people. "Yea, he sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place." 3 Nephi 3: 13 Are your feminist lenses on? Can you see the sexism here? The only people in the verse are men. Women are considered property attachments of men, and are grouped right alongside flocks and herds (and children, who presumably can do little to oppose or comply with the proclamation). A gender equal verse would likely read something like, "Yea, he sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place." Others far more lettered than I could speak to the abundance of sexism in scripture 7- for me the vital question is whether we, as Latter-day Saints in 2012, are content to perpetuate this idea that only men are people, and that women have meaning and standing only in relation to them? This idea of women as property or non-persons, well evidenced in legal history, is unfortunately still present in our modern LDS culture. I was listening to a podcast on Mormon Matters entitled “Mo ving beyond the ‘Negro Doctrine’” recently. Amazingly, during the podcast where the all-African American panel talked, the one female contributor described the 1978 revelation as extending the priesthood to “all people” without respect to race. 8 All people! What are women, chopped liver? The irony hit me like a wrecking ball. Turns out, black people are still denied the priesthood in this church9. Women are innocent Second, women are no more or less innocent than men. To some it was justified to punish black people for the acts of a distant ancestor, and as a BYU professor explained to me recently (and it’s hard to refute him, given the abundant canonical evidence in multiple standard works), God routinely punishes to the third and fourth generation. The crucial point here is that priesthood deprivation was a curse, it was punitive- and women haven’t done anything wrong, relative to men. Even if the dubious “culpable by heritage” line holds, Eve’s male descendants are just as related to her as her female descendants. If women are tainted by Eve, so are men, in equal measure. I’m not making it up, check the family history chart! Women are mature Third, women are mature adults. It makes sense to exclude children from the high-level decision making table because they lack the maturity that established adults in the LDS community possess. However, it does NOT make sense to exclude women while simultaneously including men, because the established,
7 8

As well as some counterexamples, e.g. women ecclesiastical leaders in the Old and New Testaments Marguerite Driessen, 9 There are more female than male black members - which makes the statement, at the least, more true than its opposite.


competent adults in a community should form the candidate pool for governance positions in that community. Treating women the same as children infantilizes them; women are not the governance equivalents of children. In LDS governance choices we should prefer the phrase "men, women, and children" to the archaic "men, women and children" paradigm of our sexist past. Take-home These dignity harms are reflected in the stories of many Mormon women (and men, I would point out) expressed in forums such as Feminist Mormon Housewives, Daughters of Mormonism, Exponent II , and the Feminist Mormon Housewives Facebook group. I have read their comments and listened to their stories, and am sobered by the magnitude of their merited indignation and, in my view, unnecessary suffering. I have lost count of the number of Mormon fe minists that have left or abandoned the feminist cause (and often the church) because of the uphill nature of this particular battle against an unflinching institutional opponent who can inflict death by a thousand cuts. I will leave it to the reader to li sten as I have- to tell their stories here would take more than volumes. I include merely one article as a tip of the iceberg: Mormon women must be heard Boston Globe, October 7, 200010 By Courtney Black and Maxine Hanks 11 When recently asked, ''Will there ever be women priests in the Mormon church?'' Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the church, said in The Boston Globe: ''Insofar as I can see, no. The women have their place.... they have a voice in determining policy and doing many things in the church. I haven't found any complaint among our women. I'm sure there are a few, a handful somewhere who may be disaffected for one reason or another, but I've never seen any evidence of it.'' With all due respect to our remarkable 90-year-old church leader, we find his words unfathomable in the face of reality. Many Mormon women have voiced deep dissatisfaction for generations, loudly and clearly, in print and in person, alone and in numbers. Thus we want to correct a misconception repeatedly set forth by leaders of the Church of Latter-Day Saints in the media: We are not content; we do have complaints. In fact, so many women have expressed dissatisfaction that every LDS leader is likely aware of these difficulties. For example, in 1988, hundreds of women contacted church headquarters asking why they couldn't participate in the priesthood blessing of their own babies. During the following years, women who tested this or other priesthood issues were censured or disciplined. From 1993 through 1995, some of these women were excommunicated. Mormon women are in a bind. If we disagree, we reap trouble; if we relent, we lose our voice. These are our choices: to conform, to risk church discipline, or to leave. When our leaders say they ''hear no
10 11

(I’ve had some lovely debates on Mormon feminism with the respected author, Maxine Hanks, another of the September Six) 13

complaint,'' it is because they have intimidated women into compliance. Few women will risk excommunication. Still, if we say nothing, we support the false impression that we are content. And leaving is not a solution. Mormonism is more than a religion; it is a cultural heritage. To leave Mormonism is to leave our culture, our ethnicity, our life, our family, our inheritance. We and our grandmothers have built this church creating the community, bearing the children, cooking, cleaning, caring for everyone, doing the daily labor necessary to make Mormonism work. We carry the Mormon vision while denied the right to conceive it; we bear great responsibility for the success of our community without power to define our responsibility or ensure its success. This is disheartening at best, exhausting at worse. Meanwhile, Hinckley speaks of a hundred Mormon temples ''looking heavenward.'' Mormons have built temples for 160 years. Like fine china crushed into the stucco of the first Mormon temple to make it sparkle, women have poured their lives and hearts into this church for seven generations. For a hundred years our grandmothers exercised religious voice and authority - giving blessings, creating policy, leading women's programs and publishing women's views. Yet in our church today, all women's programs, leaders, and texts - even the leading women's speeches are designed or governed by men. All church doctrine, theology, and policy are created by men. While women may be included in ''discussion'' about issues and policy, the ''decisions'' are still made by men. Thus, when women disagree with male leaders, we are often ignored or dismissed, marginalized or ostracized - until our religion feels less like home and more like another brick-and-mortar building. This puts women in a position of having to choose between our conscience and our church, between our fulfillment and our heritage. We live in contradiction and dissonance, our hearts breaking. Personal spirituality is the core of Mormonism. Yet men tread upon our religious freedom, intrude on our voices, and inhibit our relationship with god. Only we ourselves can determine if God is working through us. Men may deny the existence of female theology, but it remains for us to define. We are not content to be denied our voice nor our decision-making power in Mormonism. Our intent is simple: to speak for ourselves and have our rightful place in church governance. Meanwhile, church leaders continue insisting that women are happy in ''their place.'' We are joined by 50 Mormon women from around the world. More women are signing on every day, knowing that each will be questioned by church leaders warning her to retreat. Men do not speak for Mormon women. We speak for ourselves. Courtney Black is a Mormon who lives in Seattle. Maxine Hanks, a writer, was excommunicated for her book ''Women and Authority: Reemerging Mormon Feminism.''


Conclusion Let me finish this section on "the problem" thus: In the early twentieth century, feminists waged a long and difficult struggle to win two objectives for women: the privilege of voting, and the privilege of running for office. Ultimately, after many protests, much sacrifice, and ample agitation, (dare I suggest this same price will be required for LDS governance equality) the women's suffrage movement celebrated a major victory. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on August 18, 192012 . Mormon feminists face a very similar struggle within the LDS community. The functional governance analog in the LDS community is a voice and a vote at the governance table. A dignity harm is inflicted by categorically excluding them. If I were back in Dr. Adolphson's class, I would define the problem thus: "LDS women do not presently enjoy sufficient access to the governance table."


Hold on to that date- I will bring it up again when discussing activism campaigns


2. A Philosophy of Anatomy, Mingled with Scripture
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

- 1 Samuel 16:7
I remember a particular conversation I had with my father when I was a kid growing up in Idaho. I even remember that I asked him this question in the afternoon, on a particular patch of lawn between the storage shed and the sandbox where the water would come in when we irrigated. I wanted to know how to tell the difference between a boy and girl. I sensed somehow that I should know the answer and that it might not be an appropriate question, so I had a little internal wrestle before confronting my ignorance on the subject and mustering the courage to ask. I used a clever strategy to alleviate my anxiety- figuring the test would be the same, I asked him instead how to tell the difference between a boy cat and a girl cat! (Little knowing that decades later President Boyd K. Packer would mock that very question in his infamous “Cleansing the Inner Vessel” address in October 2010- more on who gets the last laugh on that score later). Unfortunately, my strategy collapsed. “The same way as you tell a boy from a girl,” he said. I figured I was already out on a limb, so I asked the Big Question- “Okay. And how do you tell a boy from a girl?”


Oh, the Big Question. Turns out, I’m still asking that question today- and to my surprise, I have yet to find a satisfying answer.


Up to this point, we’ve had some exposure above to the idea that neither sex nor gender is as clear-cut as most of us assume. However, since the “there is no gender binary” idea is new to most of us and pretty mind-blowing (at least it struck me that way- it took months of marinating before the idea seeped deeply enough for me to truly grasp it), the subject bears fuller inspection.

Genetically XX (female); self-identifies as a female Insists she is a spiritual female in a male body

Has testes in place of ovaries, genetically male

They say "the devil is in the details," and in this section we're going to get into the details. As a biologist, I err by sometimes sprinting through scientific subjects. I assume the reader has a relatively sophisticated understanding of the biological subject of sex determination: if you do not, I encourage you to read the 3-page sex determination primer I made to bring you up to speed (Appendix A), then come back to this point. If you "get" the bottom line that sex determination is messy, complex, and anything BUT black and white in either process or outcome, then you'll probably feel comfortable proceeding.



Why all the dog whistles? Scientific language is not the only potential alienator. My well-endowed readers will recognize my use of privileged temple language throughout (including evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed Outward Appearance TestTM that may cause some of you loud laughter). Those who have not received a temple endowment may find some of the language confusing. I intend to neither alienate nor offend- but since I will directly invite the reader to sacred disobedience in Part II, I felt it only fair that I put my mouth where my money is and pave the way a bit. Plus, I really do invite you to reexamine some of our basic assumptions about gender, and that includes the lessons present in one of our most explicitly sexist rituals: the temple endowment. I will explain more of my reasoning on this score later on- at this point just please reserve judgment, and know that there is method to the madness.

Putting our trust in the arm of flesh
“The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh.” D&C 1:19



A genital tubercle is literally an arm of flesh, I'm just sayin'

In this subsection, I intend to prove that the current LDS practice explicitly (1) puts our trust in the arm of flesh, (2) looks on the outward appearance, and (3) relies on a philosophy of anatomy, mingled with scripture. The Family Proclamation’s “spiritual sex” doctrine, even if vital, turns out to be wholly inapplicable because it is based on an unsupported assumption. I'll say it again. Mormonism's gender binary, based on a doctrine of spiritual sex, is inapplicable in the real world because it necessarily relies on an unwarranted assumption that a spattering of photons of hitting our retinas (when our brains tell us, "hey that's a boy" or "that's a girl') proves an individual's spiritual sex. To start out, watch this brief clip from The Codes of Gender. (1:17-3:50. Fair warning, it’s intense) ( - depending on your system, you may need to copy and paste the pinpoint link). 19

Do not shortchange yourself and skip this excerpt- it’s easily worth four pages of reading, and I know you’re already investing your reading time because you’re reading this! ;-) Plus, it provides groundwork for what follows and is only about 2½ minutes long.

Stop hiring astrologists to manage your theology!
Now that we’ve had an intense video introduction, it’s time to break down the answer to the Big Question. Here’s how we actually tell the difference between a male and a female person: 1. Light hits the surface of the subject’s body 2. The reflected light races off in all directions, some miniscule perce nt of which travels in your direction 3. A tiny portion of that photon splash passes through your pupil and spatters onto your retina, triggering some electric impulses that speed toward your brain And now we come to that part of our story where I need to introduce you to the GAA. The GAA has been around for quite a while, though you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s a very powerful monopoly, and their software has more market penetration than Windows. 20

GAA stands for “Gender Astrologist Association.” Yes, Gender Astrologist Association. Inside our brains we each have a GA, a Gender Astrologist, who tells us whether we’re looking at a male human or a female human.

This is Gina, my Gender Astrologist- faithfully divining gender for me for over a quarter century

Not even neuroscientists are really sure how the little brain modules do it (astrologists, like magicians, never reveal their secrets), but we feed them some photon-triggered electric impulses from our optic nerve, and the Gender Astrologist (GA) renders, quicker than any mortal judge can pound a gavel, that person’s gender. Input Birthdate Output Agent Method Trade Secret/ magic

Juicy details about attributes of Everyday Astrologist your life history and personality


Photon spatter One attribute (sex) of almost any given human

Gender Astrologist

Trade Secret/ magic

Before they’re allowed to work, each GA solemnly covenants before God, angels, and GAA representatives never to reveal how they turn a photon spatter into a Gender Judgment TM (GJ). Despite their mysterious inner workings, our GA’s are wonderfully efficient. Lightning fast, they spit out judgments like an AK-47, all day long, tirelessly. *photon spatter* “Voila! Human female.” You can go to a stadium full of people and without even thinking about it, your GA (Gender Astrologist) will categorize thousands of members of humanity for you, for the low-low input price of a photon spatter. Now a long time ago the GA’s all got together to form the GAA to promote their interests. Their marketing presentation was so slick, LDS Inc. signed up right away and has been a loyal customer ever since. (A few executives raised eyebrows because of the obvious industry ties to Darwin, but hey, water under the bridge). You can’t blame them, the GAA monopoly had their software installed on almost every PC (brain) on the planet! The contract works out pretty well- for the most part, the independent GA’s deliver the same results on the same subjects, hum along happily in the background, and nobody asks too many questions.

Unfortunately, every so often, there’s a glitch in the Matrix. I showed this picture when I presented “Mormonism Beyond the Gender Binary” at the Mormon Transhumanist Association Conference in April 2012.



[Again, I encourage you to actually watch the clip (5:36 to 9:00)- watching video has to be preferable to reading another big chunk of black and white text, right? Plus I totally gesticulate when I talk, you can't put a dollar value on that. ;-) - depending on

your system, you may need to copy and paste the pinpoint link]

As an optional exercise, how would you characterize good Pat? Where is that male/femaleness occurring?


I asked the audience to raise their hands to vote on whether to send Pat to Relief Society or priesthood. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a substantial split among the respondents! Many refrained from answering, and seemed, well, rather fidgety. I can only imagine how the controversy played out at the COB (Church Office Building): “Well, we can’t have that,” President Packer says, and dials up GAA tech support, irate. “What is going on with your GA’s?! They’re delivering contradictory GJ’s (Gender JudgmentsTM), this is intolerable! Tech support: “I’m sorry sir. We deliver billions of GJ’s a day, it is likely that a small percentage will contradict, after all the GA’s are all independent programs and we can’t modify them after install.” Packer: “You don’t understand! Our whole theology rides on the Outward Appearance Test TM. Fix your shoddy software! Tech support: “I’m pretty sure an allowable margin is in your contract, sir. We simply can’t do anything about it on the tech side, maybe you should call Corporate.” Well, Packer knew better than to call Corporate before talking to his boss first. So he brought Bednar and Nelson along (for protocol): Packer: “Jehovah! We have this person named Pat, right, and wouldn’t you know it the GA’s can’t agreenot even tech support has a work-around. Thy anointed Outward Appearance TestTM can’t even conclude as to whether Pat is a physical male or female! As you’ll doubtlessly remember, Thy whole Spiritual Sex Scheme relies on the performance of that GA contract- what should we do?!” Jehovah: “Pay no attention to the astrologist behind the curtain! Trust thou in the arm of flesh. Go down, and look for the sure sign of the tubercle, or the tubercle in the sure place.” Packer: “Ah, what a relief. We will go down, Jehovah. Come David and Russell, we will go down... Pat, we’re going to have to ask you to take your pants off- we are instructed to take a close look at your arm of flesh.”



Prophets and outward appearance tests: a winning combination

*end of imagined scenario* Brothers and sisters- when you see a glitch in the Matrix, do you look the other way and drink more Kool-Aid, or do you instead abandon the facade?



Morpheus: “The gender binary is a prison for your mind. The glitch is not the problem- the Matrix is the problem.” If by the end of this booklet you are still shackled by the gender binary (the conviction that every person is discernibly male or female), then I have failed. Here is the story of one person who left the comfortable darkness of the rabbit hole. When her GA tapped distinctly three times with the GJ gavel, this person said “no.” Instead, she marked the Gender Judgment “return to sender:” My hubby's first wife passed before the oldest was 13. So, I've raised (am still raising) 10 teens... Our joke is that in exchange for bravely raising/surviving 10 teens in this life I am NOT REQUIRED to have or deal with or watch perpetual teenagers in the next life... So, pink/purple flowers, a thatched roof cottage alone in a wooded glen, and visits from people that I enjoy from time to idk that the things I enjoy are really "gender" specific, because I know men that love this picture of my idea of perfect as well. And there is sooooo much male/masculine in me even though I love to wear dresses, jewelry, and high heels that I think gender is in many ways more of a self identification based on how we are socialized than something innate 17. Thank Allah, another Trinity has left the building. Next time your GA says three times the words, “Oh brain, hear the words of my mouth,” don’t bow your head and say “yes.” Reject the judgment and reply, "I choose to perceive gender as a social construct, rather than an immutable, inherent attribute of a person." I know it se ems a subtle distinction, but "two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled- and that has made all the difference." It’s epistemologically beautiful outside the dark GAA-maintained Matrix, and we desire all to receive it. Now that you have been presented at the veil of a worldview more delicious to the taste and very desirable, you may enter.


Excerpt from a Fb conversation, May 2012


Enter, and have joy and rejoicing in your insight

We can still identify as male or female "Receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” –Grand fundamental principle of Mormonism 18 Let me briefly address an identity contention that sometimes arises at this juncture. Some feel that removing the gender binary lens destroys gender itself! Nothing could be farther from the truth. By all means, embrace your gender identity- just don't picture it as an inherent, definitive, immutable part of you. Agency over Anatomy dear reader! You choose what it means to be an Australian every day, but that river of decisions doesn't mean that your spirit is somehow inherently Australian19 . It also doesn’t mean you couldn’t become a citizen of Canada next year and alter or abandon your A ustralian identity. There's a difference between "who I am" and "who I have always been since whenever my self began and who I will forever be.” Gender and gender essentialism are not the same thing.


Don Bradley, The Grand Fundamental Principles of Mormonism, 19 Non-Australian readers (I know there’s at least one or two non-Aussies out there), substitute your nationality here


Acknowledge that, at least to a degree, you choose what it means to be female,20 and even if that acknowledgment merely means passively adopting whatever gender roles your society delivers21 , at the least you have paid lip service to the truth. And that subtle recognition, my good friends, can make a world of difference. Legal astrologists To provide a secular context for comparison to our gender binary theology, we now turn to a brief anecdote illustrating how the law deals with unintentional gender binary glitches.

"My birth certificate still says I'm a boy"

I worked for a judge during grad school. The seasoned teacher told me about his unpleasant task of occasionally ruling on an infant’s gender. That all-important beginning anatomy is no more clear-cut than the any other slice of anatomy, and it often falls on a judge to decide the ambiguous cases. I can


Or male, or genderqueer, etc. Though some of those gender role packages clearly just suck, e.g. please don’t go machismo on me


imagine the ambiguous-genitalia baby being brought before him like King Solomon: “Oh wise king, rule on the gender of this baby!” “I will,” he says, and pauses to strategize on how to perform the impossible: extract the definitive from the incoherent. (Much like our task of discerning Spiritual Sex).

At this point I remember my crotchety old senior year Calculus teacher (named Mr. Crawford of all things), who was working out a complex problem on the board one day and wrote down a figure after skipping about sixteen thousand steps. “Where’d that number come from?” asked one student, incredulous. Mr. Crawford turned fully to face the class and started turning his head and darting his eyes at the air in front of him as though tracking some unseen fly. With a whisk as quick as Mr. Miyagi, he snatched at the air, his hand stopping abruptly about a foot from his head in front of him, at about the level of the top of his head, his first three digits together as though holding a captured snitch. He slowly lowered his hand, saying "I pulled it right out of thin air." Like Mr. Crawford, I imagine King Solomon/my boss suddenly springing into action, making the same hand motion, and concluding triumphantly: “it’s a girl!” The problem is, there is no fly to catch- and thin-air-based discernments don’t have a terribly good track record. You can imagine the ringing in my boss’s ears when some of those infants come back, decades later, to politely inform the good judge in no uncertain terms that “you got it wrong you %)(&#% @&)@% and you have no idea how much your ruling has %#@)( my life since.” Turns out, it is really, really hard to get past what other people, before you’re even old enough to talk, decide is your sex. No wonder it’s called sex assignment: behold the power of the GAA.


We witness this allegiance to the gender binary in broader culture as well. When someone's pregnant, we always want to know "if it's a boy or a girl," as though the functionality of one out of over 24,000 genes is somehow THE most important attribute of the burgeoning humanity inside that womb. Perhaps we should tolerate this arbitrary emphasis at a cultural level; hijacking it for dubious theological ends (such as subordinating a class of people, i.e. women) is less excusable. Put a different way, I am not interested in destroying gender: I am interested in destroying the gender binary, because as applied by LDS Inc. it favors Anatomy over Agency. Let me share a story to illustrate. Politics at the COB

I met with an old friend of mine in Phoenix a few weeks ago. She was a friend of mine from our Idaho high school, and I hadn’t seen her since. When I knew her, however, she was a teenage boy. She always sincerely and fervently felt like a girl inside, and shortly after high school exercised her God-given agency 30

to make her outside finally match her inside. She next married a woman in Canada under their same-sex marriage laws, then moved to Arizona. Now she is going through a divorce, complicated by the “full faith and credit” Arizona (which goes off current sex for legal determinations, but doesn’t itself recognize same-sex marriages) extends to both Canada and Idaho (which relies on birth sex for determinations, and also doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages). Talk about untangling a legal quandary! Transsexual transgressions COB* (church office building) executives are quite concerned about such sex change cases, a consequence of dreadful sobriety about upholding their GAA contract. *A quick interjection about my use of LDS Inc. or COB rather than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or The Church. I realize it may come off a bit contemptuous at first, but as you will see in chapter 7, my bowels are filled with institutional charity: top LDS leaders have a hard job. You try running a global society of millions someday! The challenges are nothing short of formidable. At this point, please run with it with me for a spell- I’ll get into greater depth on the whys and wheretofor’s in the very next chapter. Now back to your previously scheduled program. Their ferocious fidelity is understandable: corporate accounts are still reeling from paying on the 1978 breach of contract claim. Do you have any idea how expensive the damages are for a contract that was valid up to the Millenium? That RAA (Race Astrologist Association) litgator made Zeezrom look like a snot-nosed amateur.

RAA's commercial litgator

Yes, LDS, Inc. is very determined to maintain the GAA contract- there’s simply not enough credibility capital left to finance another failed suit. 31

Trouble is, there’s an obvious loophole for cheating the Outward Appearance TestTM for governance access! A person could just undergo a transsexual operation to change sex. Can you imagine, the same person being one sex at one point in life, and a different sex later on! This too would frustrate Jehovah’s gender essentialist Spiritual Sex Scheme- how would we bifurcate humanity then? Not only does LDS Inc. need a rock-solid Outward Appearance TestTM to maintain the Matrix, it must have a single point in time that it is applied. To punish those impudent enough to try and beat the system, the COB created a special procedure, kept in the super-secret, Agent-Smiths-only manual. From the auspiciously-titled “Unusual Circumstances” section (16.7.4): Members who have undergone an elective transsexual operation may not receive the priesthood.

Bishop Smith conferring with his counselors

If you started out female, your priesthood ploy has failed! If you started out male, then “take that” for threatening the Matrix! Not to be content with the 50 lashes of priesthood deprivation, COB goes even further. From “Issuing Recommends in Special Circumstances” (3.3.4): A member who has undergone an elective transsexual operation may not receive a temple recommend.


Yep, it’s that big of a deal. Birth anatomy is a commandment from God we mustn’t transgress. If God is responsible for birth anatomy and biological laws, though, that opens up a pretty big can of worms. Elohim must have decreed immoral things at some point, like “a man can force a woman to conceive and gestate a child by raping her repeatedly.” Did He also ordain the myriad painful, senseless congenital conditions newborns experience? In any case, She is totally drawing outside the lines on the biology thing, it’s messier than a Kindergartener off Ritalin.22

“I know little babies come from heaven I know god made those tiny hands and hearts” – Doug Walker,The Things I Know


Perhaps we should vote Ahman off the island? By our birth anatomy metric, He’s just not all that good at playing God


Thank thee for the fair start Elohim, my community will trust in thy flawless birth anatomy for the rest of my natural life

Birth anatomy is the ultimate Sorting Hat pronouncement. Forget cringing over recitation of the AdamGod ghost of LDS past- what we have now is a Photon-God ghost of LDS present. Since infant boys and girls look pretty much the same, the initial genital packaging is the Sure Sign. Whatever photon input the GAA uses at birth to work its GJ magic revelation, counts. That will do.


Surgery? How dare you suggest we “alter the design of God’s laws and nature 23”!!

Now, we don’t balk when members change their appearance or behavior with approved hormone medication, a haircut, losing weight, changing clothes, working out, etc. -- why should certain parts of our anatomy (that the GA’s happen to find especially dispositive) merit special treatment? Does flocking with the Outward Appearance Test TM truly merit the savage stigma of this specific exercise of free agency? From Taylor Petrey 24: One must be aware that the binary division between male and female, taken to be on the order of not only nature, but also God’s will, has as its goal the sanctification of heterosexual sex. There must be strict gendered correspondence between a spirit and a body, it is believed, because of God’s providence over creation. This view of the premortal gendered spirit is often put to use against transsexuality and intersexuality. The problem with this view arises in explaining not only the real experiences of transsexual persons, but also the existence of
23 24

Boyd Packer, Cleansing the Inner Vessel, Oct. 2012


intersexed persons whose bodies resist categorization in the gender binary… The idea of a natural or inherent binary sexual difference in LDS discourse makes a legible “sex” the prerequisite to personhood, rendering the differently sexed “accidents of nature” illegible as children of God and divine potentials. No wonder it’s so easy to dehumanize transsexuals- they’re arguably not even people, as God has only sons OR daughters, not freaks! At least the intersexuals might have an excuse, they didn’t mean to. Elective transsexual operation is right up there by murder among a short list of transgressions requiring First Presidency approval before reinstatement or readmission by baptism (6.12.10): 1. Murder 2. Incest 3. Sexual offense against a child 4. Apostasy 5. Serious transgression while in a prominent Church position 6. Elective transsexual operation 7. Embezzlement of Church funds Of course, the court that initially condemns you (transsexual operation is, unsurprisingly, a basis for formal church discipline [6.7.2], and will result in an annotated record [6.13.4]) will be different, depending on your beginning anatomy. Women are excommunicated by ward disciplinary councils25; men by stake disciplinary councils26 (6.2.1). Women aren’t worthy of being cast into outer darkness (there are only sons of perdition, dontcha know), and are deprived the honor of being dealt with by the Sanhedrin closer in the hierarchy to COB27 . Perhaps it’s a teaching analogy about female inferiority, kind of like Peter wanting to be crucified upside down so as to not be esteemed equal to his Savior.


It is noteworthy that, in this context, women are again thoroughly dominated by men. No woman ever participates in the judgment of a woman, in heaven or on earth. 26 Though a woman or transsexual on trial for willfully receiving Melchizedek Priesthood presents an interesting case, as the language provides that stake councils are responsible for disciplining Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Thus, the case would require a pre-disposition adjudication of the priesthood office of the subject. 27 "Are you then a Son or a Daughter of God?" Transsexual answers: "Whatever you say that I am" Luke 22:70


If you do not live up to the gender binary, you will be- in my power

But what if you’re not a member yet? Let’s say you’re an investigator and changed your sex before you met the missionaries? You’re on an even shorter list (four items, as opposed to seven) requiring Mission President’s interview AND First Presidency approval before baptism (16.3.3): 1. Has committed murder 2. Has been involved in the practice of plural marriage 3. Has undergone an elective transsexual operation 4. Is currently on legal probation or parole Every shaming, invasive, punitive arrow in the arsenal has now been loosed - that’s how Agent Smith deals with intentional Matrix glitches. Behold the wrath of Cob you nigh-murdering, contract threatening sons of bishops! A plug for gender freedom I for one am deeply disturbed by our practice of shaming and punishing transsexuals. I 100% oppose this unnecessary, ugly allegiance to the gender binary. It is repulsive to me. I grieve when I reflect on the stigma, shame, and rejection many transsexuals experience. Must we play the playground bully, beating up on those who are different? Why can’t we just admit that we don’t know and stop making whipping boys out of those we deem as “misfits”?


"And how is this gender binary teaching received?" 'Very well.'

Gender freedom should be a slam dunk for free agency enthusiasts. Individuals should be free to choose their gender identity AND what that identity does and does not mean to that person, similar to how we choose to identify as Mormon, and what that identity means to us! My effacing high school friend should be free to elect a sex change and identify as a woman, despite being born biologically male. My lesbian friend should be free to marry a woman, while identifying at the same time as wholly female. My uterus-endowed natural leader friend, Sarah, should be a valid candidate for high office in her religious community, should she wish to and qualify herself for that office. LDS governance inequality does not only disadvantage those who identify as female; it marginalizes all those who fail to present as unambiguous heterosexual males (e.g. intersexuals, transsexuals, asexuals, queers, and homosexuals). What I oppose is imposing a set of gender normative roles on an individual against that person's will, based on an anatomical presumption. What I advocate instead is imposing some universal roles (such as "you are your sibling's keeper"), while leaving gender roles to the INDIVIDUAL's free agency. I recall a hymn28:


I read it as gender neutral, though I recognize it is a sadly male-centric hymn, like most. Perhaps it should be called the “church himnal” instead, Emma would be proud


Know This, That Every Soul Is Free 1. Know then that ev'ry soul is free, To choose his life and what he'll be; For this eternal truth is given, That God will force no man to heaven. 2. He'll call, persuade direct him right;, Bless him with wisdom, love, and light; In nameless ways be good and kind;

But never force the human mind. 3. Freedom and reason make us men: Take these away, what are we then? Mere animals, and just as well, The beasts may think of heaven or hell. 4. May we no more our powers abuse, But ways of truth and goodness choose; Our God is pleased when we improve His grace, and seek his perfect love.

I love that. “May we no more our powers abuse, But ways of truth and goodness choose; Our God is pleased when we improve His grace, and seek his perfect love.” In that verse I hear a call to cease punishing gender “misfits,” and a solicitation to improve His grace by doing our utmost to reform our institutional and personal practices. He has been graceful in blessing us thus far, but will “yet reveal” many great and important things as we “do many things of our own free will” to bring to pass the righteousness of human equality. I like my Mormon transsexual friend’s religious view on Facebook: Religion is for people afraid of going to hell; spirituality is for those of us who've been there. I choose to live my life intentionally instead of reactionary, fluid instead of carefully arranged, loving instead of fearing, and spiritually instead of religiously. I argue for embracing and proliferating gender (see e.g. my Mormonism Beyond the Gender Binary post at fMh). In the postgender future, we will witness a multiplication similar to what we observe as a child’s understanding of literary genre matures:

Maturity Pre-critical binary Post-critical poly-

Genre Fiction/nonfiction Polygenre: satire, fantasy, memoir, romance, diary...

Gender Male/female Polygender: genderqueer, ?

We should carefully consider each set of gender stereotypes we adopt, reject the ones that do more harm than good (such as governance inequality), and embrace the actual, rich diversity expressed by human individuals. Said fellow Zionist, Taylor Petrey: 39

Morpheus/Big T

To admit the social basis of gender does not entail the elimination of gender, nor does it require a leveling of difference toward some androgynous ideal. Quite the opposite. Instead, we may see more of a proliferation of “genders,” released from the constraints of fantasies about a neat gender binary. Just as we do not imagine that only one (or two) races, body types, and hair colors are represented in the resurrection, we may also see a variety of “genders,” understood as either different kinds of bodies, different kinds of identities, and even different roles. We need not abandon the idea of “eternal gender,” but rather we can embrace the possibilities that it opens for us once freed from its artificial constraints. In short, what I advocate along with Big T is the expansion of the scope of human liberty (by offering a broader net choice set), and embracing a presumption of equality, rather than an anatomy-based presumption of inequality. A plug for marriage equality



Marriage equality (equating same-sex and opposite-sex couples) logically follows from a rejection of gender essentialism, and is in harmony with LDS Inc.’s strong track record of supporting family. I’ve been vigorously arguing the merits of LDS same-sex marriage for two years now, including via a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed in April 2012 entitled “Time for Same-sex LDS Marriages.30” I like what gender essentialist opponent Taylor Petrey said in his landmark paper, “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon theology:”31 The numerous critiques of the category of gender in recent years cannot be ignored, even if Latter-day Saints opt for a continued emphasis on binary sexual difference. Whether from the critique of gender roles, gender essentialist notions of innate characteristics, or even the notion of biological difference itself, LDS theology faces serious credibility issues by continuing to hold to precritical assumptions about sexual difference. At the same time, however, there is nothing preventing Latter-day Saints from moving past these assumptions in order to more clearly focus on Mormonism’s distinctive teachings about kinship and salvation, which does not require an appeal to the suspect category of gender at all. (p. 129) Thank you Buddha, another Mormon Neo has left the building.
29 30

My 2011 Sunstone presentation, 31


Annotations And yes, we should also stop LDS Inc.’s damnable correlating of homosexuality with child molestation. Homosexuals are right up there with transsexuals, sadly. I know the stories of some of these perpetually shamed annotatees- trust me, the stories are heartbreaking.

MoFem blogger and LGBT advocate, Jana Riess

As Jana Reiss ably pointed out 32 regarding the Agent-Smiths-only manual: If it were standard policy to place such an annotation in the record of any church member who had confessed to any kind of sexual transgression that opposes LDS standards (including heterosexual fornication, adultery, etc.), that would be more fair than the system we apparently have per the 2010 Church Handbook of Instruction. However, the policy does not mention heterosexual sex as conduct that "has threatened the well-being of other persons or of the Church," instead lumping adult homosexual behavior with incest, sexual and physical abuse of children, and "predatory conduct": 6.13.4 Records with Annotations, pp. 70-71 In areas authorized by the First Presidency, an annotation may be placed on the record of a member whose conduct has threatened the well-being of other persons or of the Church. An annotation helps the bishop protect Church members and others from such individuals. When a bishop receives an annotated membership record, he follows the instructions in the annotation. Church headquarters will automatically annotate a person’s membership record in any of the following situations: 1. The stake president or bishop submits a Report of Church Disciplinary Action form showing that the person was disciplined for incest, sexual offense against or serious physical abuse of a child, plural marriage, an elective transsexual operation, repeated homosexual activities (by adults), predatory conduct, or embezzlement of Church funds or property. 2. The stake president or bishop submits written notification that the person has been criminally convicted for one of these transgressions. 3. The stake president and bishop jointly submit written notification that the person has committed one of these transgressions before or after excommunication or name removal. In addition, the stake president and bishop may jointly recommend that a person’s membership record be annotated for other conduct that threatens the well-being of other persons or of the Church.
32 -riess/mormons-and-homophobia-mormons-and-gay-pride


In all cases, an annotation on a membership record is removed only with First Presidency approval upon request of the stake president. Once again- the correct number of penises is 1, you 0-penis and 2-penis, child-abusing, threatening the well-being of LDS Inc.33 couples! Of course, if we carved out a realistic (same-sex) marriage option for you, repeated extramarital homosexual activity would be much less likely, but hey, if we punch you in the face it’s your fault that you got a bruise. All us married Chief Officers don’t have “indulging in sex” problems like you mandatory celibates, what gives?

Got the extramarital sex bug, eh? Not our fault, not our problem

Political neutrality
Now, we renew our focus on LDS Inc.’s management practice by analyzing their political neutrality. LDS Inc.’s political neutrality statement 34 : Reserves the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church. During the time LDS Inc. opposed the ERA, “the First Presidency asked all western Congressmen to vote against the deregulation of airlines. 35” Perhaps the financial interests of the LDS Inc. truly were threatened, since it was a significant stockholder in the threatened Western Airlines. We will now look at the statements and actions of LDS Inc. Chief Officers to test whether LDS Inc.’s interests are similarly threatened by attacks against the gender binary. First we’ll look at the ERA; second, the GAA. ERA First, LDS Inc. expended significant corporate resources in the 1970’s in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment 36, a rather simple piece of legislation stating: “Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”


The main threat seems to be exposing the reliance on a philosophy of anatomy, with its accompanying loss of credibility capit al (analogize to the race fiasco). 34 -statement/political-neutrality 35 D. Michael Quinn, author of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power 36 Sonia Johnson and her modest band of pro-ERA Mormons was doomed from the start- read her From Housewife to Heretic for details on their experience receiving the Corporate Crush.


D. Michael Quinn, author of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, details this period in pages 384-398.      “the use of meetinghouses was encouraged in Hinckley’s private instructions to regional representatives, stake presidents, and ‘state[wide] ERA coordinators” (397); “LDS church ‘involvement in the ERA controversy may well have exceeded legal boundaries for tax -exempt institutions” (398); 5 October 1979 instruction: “Church building[s] may be used for ERA education, Any and all Church meetings are appropriate forums for discussing ERA” (384); “Mormon congregations received leaflets describing how to vote for referendums and sometimes for state legislators” (385); “On crucial ERA referendums Mormon congregations tried to distribute anti -ERA leaflets to the doorsteps or car windshields of all eligible voters. Wards in Tempe, Arizona, made this pamphlet distribution an assignment for priesthood boys ages fourteen to sixteen” (386);  “In each state anti-ERA “civic” organizations of Mormons, sometimes of women only, were organized under the direction of Regional Representatives of the Twelve. The regional leaders acted under the direction of Gordon B. Hinckley, chair of the Special Affairs Committee at LDS headquarters” (386). The able and PR-savvy bureaucrat Gordon Hinckley proved, however, neither the first nor the last to oppose attacks against Jehovah’s Spiritual Sex Scheme and the GAA contract. GAA Yes, the ERA is far from the only political or commercial cause to gain LDS Inc. support. Every so often, the GAA’s special interest lobbying pays off, and they get an over-the-pulpit endorsement from one of the bigwigs. These return-and-givethe-GAA-word’s are painfully flawed, but usually go over pretty well. After all, what self-respecting LDS would push back on a Chief Executive?


Pushback 44

Packer: Years ago I visited a school in Albuquerque. The teacher told me about a youngster who brought a kitten to class. As you can imagine, that disrupted everything. She had him hold the kitten up in front of the children. It went well until one of the children asked, “Is it a boy kitty or a girl kitty?” Not wanting to get into that lesson, the teacher said, “It doesn’t matter. It’s just a kitty.” But they persisted. Finally, one boy raised his hand and said, “I know how you can tell.” Resigned to face it, the teacher said, “How can you tell?” And the student answered, “You can vote on it!” You may laugh at this story, but if we are not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would a vote against the law of gravity do? There are both moral and physical laws “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world” that cannot be changed. "It is not a question of when “meaningful life” begins or when the spirit “quickens” the body. In the biological sciences, it is known that life begins when two germ cells unite to become one cell, bringing together twenty-three chromosomes from both the father and from the mother. These chromosomes contain thousands of genes. In a marvelous process involving a combination of genetic coding by which all the basic human characteristics of the unborn person are established, a new DNA complex is formed. A continuum of growth results in a new human being. The onset of life is not a debatable issue, but a fact of science. This doctrine is not of me, but is that of the living God" Reverence for Life, Elder Russell M. Nelson, May 1985

Sex is a clear-cut law of nature, and gender is an irrevocably decreed physical law? How, pray tell, are we to discern God's gender law - perhaps bring every child before you for an approved Gender Decree? Surely you’d be willing to do it Closed Door style (eyes closed, use your See-r skills), since spiritual truths are spiritually discerned? I’d love to see a GA (General Authority) whup a GA (Gender Astrologist) on a sex determination, just once. What delicious irony, from the same enlightened biologist who said: 1) "Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?" (sorry gay people, either you don't exist or you can be cured) – Oct ’11, Cleansing the Inner Vessel 2) "[Animals] are ruled by the physical laws of nature... their mating rituals follow set patterns and have rigid limitations. For instance, animals do not pair up with their own gender to satisfy their mating instincts" (sorry 500+ species with well-documented homosexuality)" –Mar ’92, The Fountain of Life 3) Oh how the list could go on with excerpts from 40 years of Packer Science TM Elder Nelson, bless his heart, can't even tell the difference between a scientific fact (e.g. an observation such as "that person is 5'2") and a scientific conclusion (life begins at conception). Is this coming from the top scientist in the leadershipa classic conceptionist theory? Should we hold funerals and proxy sealings for the millions of fertilized, uncounted zygotes sloughed off in menstruation? Should we pick through the menstruate looking for the corpses 37? And what percent of the DNA has to be zipped together- 99.7, 99.8? What if a few thousand base pairs are hanging loose? And what about fusion’s logic problem? Sperm and egg fuse- voila, behold Tim! Simultaneously a few millimeters away, another sperm and egg fuse- voila, behold Matt! They're traveling together down the Fallopian FunTM Slide and fuse before reaching the uterus for implantation. Well, the embryo is clearly no longer Tim, and it's certainly not Matt- shall we call it


Though I employ this question rhetorically, I actually affirm holding services or sealings for early terminations at the request of either parent- it can help some grieving parents bear the loss of a child they hoped to raise.


Burt? But then did Tim and Matt die? If so, where are their bodies? I thought an indivisible person could neither split nor merge with another person? How about fission (identical twins - Julie is conceived! Oh wait, Julie split- now it’s Bethany and Brittany. What happened to Julie? Awkward!)? As though the onset of life and what life is were settled questions. That's the thing about science- it's never settled. Are we to ground our theology in whatever the scientific establishment's shifting consensus offers at the moment? “I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.” -Tommie, qtd by David A. Edwards in May 2012 New Era’s “Any Questions” “In the Church, we embrace all truth, whether it comes from the scientific laboratory or from the revealed word of the Lord. We accept all truth as being part of the gospel” (Nelson, “Begin with the End in Mind,” Brigham Young University 1984–85 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1985], 17).” I’m still confused- yay or nay on the whole science thing? Turns out that’s kind of an important question when your theology turns on the biology of sex determination. Whoa, hold the Oracle Train! Are you saying that the Church doesn’t have a position on scientific questions? What then of Nelson and Packer’s assertions? It looks like we have some “talking out of both sides of the mouth” here- maybe we need a Boyd-Dallin-Russell correlation sesh? And are you also saying the Church has no position on the causation of sexual orientation, which is a subset of sex determination, and so to at least that extent you admit that the Church explicitly disavows a position on the correlation between physical and spiritual sex? What test, then, are we substituting the Outward Appearance TestTM for?

“The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.”38


Description: “The following interview was conducted in 2006 with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. These senior Church leaders responded to questio ns from two members of the Church’s Public Affairs staff.” Available at -statement/same-genderattraction.


GAA and the English Language Lobby

The English Language Lobby signed an GAA contract long before LDS, Inc. even incorporated 39. Their allegiance to the gender binary is reflected in their two-and-only-two pronoun rule (i.e. the dyads he/she, her/him). Many languages and countries have signed on, with the notable, recent exception of Sweden: “Earlier this month, the movement for gender neutrality reached a milestone: Just days after In ternational Women's Day a new pronoun, hen (pronounced like the bird in English), was added to the online version of the country’s National Encyclopedia. The entry defines hen as a "proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon]."The National Encyclopedia announcement came amid a heated debate about gender neutrality that has been raging in Swedish newspaper columns…”

Though perhaps not Zion to all, Sweden does at least provide a precedent that LDS, Inc. might follow. It is entirely feasible to abandon the gender binary. At least with respect to gender-specific scriptural interpretation, we could mimic the prayer of Joseph Smith: “Lord, deliver us from a broken, corrupt, scattered and imperfect language, a dark narrow little prison as it were.”


Irrespective of whether you count the 1923 incorporation under the laws of the state of Utah (Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), the 1916 incorporation (Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), or the 1851 incorporation (by legislative fiat of the State of Deseret).


Phew- now we’ve covered some serious ground on politics and terms, let’s get back to the Matrix, or Gender Binary World.

We are all intergender; we are all intersex
I've been preaching this "there's no discernible gender binary" doctrine for a while, and almost without fail when I bring up intersex people to illustrate the response is "yeah, but they're such a small minority." The size of the glitch in the Matrix is not the problem, my friends: the Matrix is the problem. THE MATRIX IS THE PROBLEM! We need to free ourselves from our unfounded certainty that we know something about a person’s spirit merely because a few photons collided with the backs of our eyeballs. Sex v. gender A quick word on using sex v. gender. Mormons are very skittish when talking about sex, despite their obsession with proper sexual behavior, and you won't find the word even once in the Family Proclamation. Instead the euphemism of gender is substituted (the word "gender," like the spiritual sex doctrine itself, is of quite recent usage - the last 60 years or so). We're going to get over that right now, though, since our inspection sometimes hinges on the meaning of these words. If you're uncomfortable, say it with me brothers and sisters: "sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex." Okay, now we're good. For an appropriately nuanced analysis of “gender” and “sex” usage in LDS discourse, see Taylor Petrey 40 (beginning on page 15). The short version is, we’re not too particular with the terms, and I follow that precedent in being a little loosy-goosy with the terms in this work. Nonetheless, I’ll cite the definitions for gender and sex, since the latter will transition into the next section about nominal fallacies. Gender: According to Wikipedia, “Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes that they possess. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity. Sexologist John Money 41 introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word "gender" to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money's meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender. 42 ” Sex: According to one dictionary 43, sex is “the sum of the structural and functional differences by which the male and female are distinguished, or the phenomena or behavior dependent on these differences.” Nominal phallusy Reread that last definition of sex. Did you catch the nominal part? Here’s an illustration of the nominal fallacy:
40 41 A sexologist named Money, betcha he’s popular 42 43


"A man named Norman came along and asked the scientists what they were studying. They said, “Children with Down syndrome.” Norman asked, “What’s Down syndrome?” They told him, “It’s when a person has learning difficulties, slanted eyes, and heart defects.” Norman nodded. “I see. So children who have those characteristics have Down syndrome?” “Correct. We’re trying to understand why they have these characteristics.” Norman replied, “Well, that’s simple. It’s because they have Down syndrome.” The scientists blinked. “Well, what we mean is, we want to know what causes these characteristics.” Norman shook his head patiently. “Down syndrome causes it, silly.” Some scientists smiled politely while others just looked confused. Norman walked away shaking his head. “I don’t see why these scientists get so many research grants when their question has already been answered. We know perfectly well what causes those characteristics—Down syndrome does.” Spiritual sex as used in the Family Proclamation cannot be merely a nominal fallacy- logically, it must be an attribute that exists independent of our identification. Male/female as used in a secular context may be a nominal fallacy- but gender essentialism cannot be, for it presupposes a preexisting and immutable characteristic. Biological sex characteristics are neither preexisting nor immutable- thus, they cannot be the litmus test of essential gender. Family Proclamation FAIL.

Cart before the horse phallusy: "Brian has a penis because he's a man" vs. "We categorize Brian as a man because he has a penis"

If we seek to equate spiritual sex with nominalized physical sex, we commit the same fallacy as good Norman: "David Bednar came along and asked the scientists what they were studying. They said, “Females.” Bednar asked, “What’s a female?” They told him, “It’s when a person has a short genital tubercle and ovaries.” Bednar nodded. “I see. So people who have those characteristics are female?” “Correct. We’re trying to understand why they have these characteristics.” Bednar replied, “Well, that’s simple. It’s because they’re female.” The scientists blinked. “Well, what we mean is, we want to know what causes these characteristics.” Bednar shook his head patiently. “Being female causes it, silly.” 49

Some scientists smiled politely while others just looked confused. Bednar walked away shaking his head. “I’m glad we don’t take scientists too seriously in our church. We know perfectly well what causes those characteristics—being spiritually female does.” Now, back to our intergender/intersex discussion. No, wait. I feel like I’ve understated this subsection. Is there a way to shout it from the rooftops? Maybe large font will

Sex is the Public Enemy #1 of nominal fallacies. It is nothing more than a set of independent, variable characteristics with fuzzy boundaries. It has no existence besides a nominal existence. Okay there
help. I said it. Bubbles distort less when they’re burst.

Sex, like a constellation, is constructed, not self-existent. Different cultures use the same data points to draw entirely different pictures.

All we have are the stars- the constellation that is binary sex is man-made, not a fact of nature. It is a product of a culturally informed, pattern-seeking brain: not a fundamental constant. Okay, now back to our intergender/intersex discussion. We are all intersex “Biology breathes bell curves, not binaries.”44


I made that up- ain’t it a gem?


Captain Correlation: “Your atypical sex characteristics will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

As a strange incident of biology- we all start out as both male and female- sex differentiation doesn't begin until about week six. In fact, as BYU professor Duane Jeffery pointed out in a Sunstone presentation on intersexuality, men still have some ovarian tissue in their testicles, a vestige from embryonic development. And women have a similar amount of testicular tissue in their ovaries! Go figure.

My mentor and evolutionary bio teacher, Duane Jeffery

And, though we call them different names (penis and clitoris), both are derivatives of the same structure, just adapted and positioned a little differently. (The labia homolog, btw, is the scrotum, which some people apparently have maggots in continually). This figure illustrates the human spectrum, based on sex characteristics (ovarian vs. testicular tissue; height/externality of genital tubercle; whether produces oocytes, sperm, or neither; etc.): 51

Though the curve is undeniably bimodal, it is notable that the curve doesn’t actually touch the left or right side; none of us are 100% one sex or the other. Now for some audience participation. Where then would you draw the line with respect to sex? Would you choose figure A, or figure B?

Figure A

Figure B

The important point of this exercise is to point out that, whether you chose A or B, your decision was arbitrary. Given the underlying biological reality of a continuum, it is splitting hairs to claim bracket A is superior to bracket B. We ALL have physical characteristics of both sexes- the difference is quantitative, not qualitative.



Again, the point here is not to dither about the magnitude of the intersex bracket, but instead to point out, to beat the dead horse just one more time, that PHYSICAL SEX CANNOT GROUND A BINARY THEOLOGY. Our theology demands a binary test; physical sex does not provide it; thus we must acknowledge our spiritual sex ignorance and start ordaining without respect to physical appearance.

I admit another option would be to divine a test that is binary -though I, and many others, really don't think it's worth the effort. Even if we could concoct such a test, its value would be highly suspect, as marginalizing slices of humanity is wholly (and thankfully) absent from the "Christian Best Practices" list.



What would that test look like, anyway? Give a folded-up name to someone newly set apart to the calling of Sorting Hat, have them hold the name in their hands while blindfolded, and task them with rendering a spiritual sex verdict after fiercely scrunching their face and repeating aloud three times the words, “I think I can I think I can I think I can?”

Elder Russell Nelson taught, “Gender disorientation is poorly understood 46.” I think he’s right- though whom is poorly understanding remains unspecified in the address. Given the scantiness and incoherence of over-the-pulpit statements on the subject, perhaps Elder Nelson and Elder Packer are not the only LDS Inc. executives with “gender confusion.47” I like what this article says: “When it comes to sex, sports religious authorities should acknowledge that while science can offer evidence, it cannot dictate what evidence we should use. Scientifically, there is no clear or objective way to draw a bright line between male and female.”

46 47

In the rather ironically named address, How Firm Our Foundation, April 2002 Boyd K. Packer, “I Will Remember Your Sins No More,” April 2006



Given the fickle nature of sex and sex determination, why are we putting our trust in photons and tubercles, rather than the God of equality and inclusion? Shouldn't the all-over-the-board, constantly changing nature of biology make us nervous about hanging our theological hats on it, when we should instead concern ourselves with the spiritual ? We socialize and treat women and men very differently in our tradition, and I can't be alone in being uncomfortable about reading so much into a difference of the positioning of a few cubic inches of tissue. Aren't we discomfited, judging a book by its cover at the expense of individual privileges? Especially when our straining-at-gnats, appearance-based test
48 -sex-verification-you-say-youre-a-woman-that-should-beenough.html


bears so much in common with the oppressive sexist and racist practices of religions, cultures, and governments past and present?


Same-sex couples CAN reproduce

This mouse has two and only two biological parents- two male mice50

Given the failure of the Sorting Hat approach, some propose another way to discern sex. Sometimes folks try to define sex in reproductive terms, i.e. if you can make viable sperm vs. viable eggs. This approach fails for a number of reasons, including the scheme’s inability to classify folks that don’t produce gametes, those that don’t produce viable gametes,
49 50

Love that bottom line: “Humans Decide.” Amen, Intersex Society of North America


and those who produce both types. In any case, I have in one cheek cell all the genes needed to manufacture a human egg- sperm from a male partner could be combined with my egg to produce a child. Same-sex reproduction is a matter of time, dear philosophers of anatomy, not theological crime. Before I drift too far afield, let me abruptly conclude this “We are all intersex” section. In our embryological development and presently, we all have biological tissue of the opposite of our predominant gender expression. Thus, we are all intersex to at least some modest degree. Sex and gender are spectral, not binary The reality of the sex and gender axes is one of two spectrums, rather than 0’s and 1’s. I made this point in my article at Feminist Mormon Housewives ( Mormonism Beyond the Gender Binary ):


Both sex and gender are spectral. Let us leave the sex spectrum behind for a moment, though, and focus on the gender continuum. Gender performance

Let me begin with tag-teaming the influential Judith Butler and Taylor Petrey as they discuss putting the cart before the horse 51: As Judith Butler explains, “There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results.” The idea that gender is performed, not possessed, reveals just how unstable it is as a category for defining people. Such a view —that gender is something that develops, or is achieved— suggests that there is no true or false gender, nor one that coheres with a precultural “nature.” Let’s dig a little bit into Judith’s idea of gender performance. How masculine or feminine are you? Are you a more masculine woman, or perhaps a very feminine one? What is your gender performance? Count up the number of checks that apply to you:

Stereotypically Masculine Traits Domineering Silent/few words Impatient Rough Muscular Strong Stoic

Stereotypically Feminine Traits Submissive Chatty Patient Gentle Lean Weak Emotional 58

Proud Insensitive Competitive Competent at providing Spiritually apathetic by nature Logical reasoning Lead

Humble Sensitive Cooperative Lacks business sense Spiritually attuned Emotional reasoning Follow

The list could go on and on, and none of us would check all of one column and none of the other. Even if it were possible to get consensus from the competing gender role packages offered by the world’s diverse cultures, no single person matches up 100%. Like the sex spectrum before it, we see that gender is a continuum, and at least to a modest degree we are all intergender (or transgender, depending on your understanding of the term).

Call Captain Correlation! LDS Inc. has some serious work to do here, what a mess


Shouldn’t the diversity of gender performance give us pause about reading so much into the difference between Mark and Mary, when the gender performance spread between Mary and Martha could be greater than that between Mary and Mark?

Also note- once again, the spectrum doesn't actually touch either side

A repeat from Taylor Petrey’s “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon theology:52” The numerous critiques of the category of gender in recent years cannot be ignored, even if Latter-day Saints opt for a continued emphasis on binary sexual difference. Whether from the critique of gender roles, gender essentialist notions of innate characteristics, or even the notion of biological difference itself, LDS theology faces serious credibility issues by continuing to hold to precritical assumptions about sexual difference. The Spiritual Sex Scheme utterly fails to match up to reality on either the sex or gender axis. It’s not just the femme guys and the mannish gals- every one of us is both biologically intersex and psychologically/socially intergender! Yes, what matters is the Matrix revealed by the glitch, not the size of the glitch in the Matrix. However, even then, the “glitch class” is not some tiny minority. The Pat’s of the world ARE the world!

52 my emphasis


The curse of Cain It is notable at this point to point out that, for males, pre-1978 priesthood deprivation was a curse- a punishment for being black. Priesthood allocation was not “if you’re white, you’re in:” instead, the rule was “if you’re not black, you’re in.” Brown people are not white; they’re non-black.


In a similar way, women are not deprived of governance authority because they’re women; it’s because they’re nonmale. Transsexuals, irrespective of their beginning or ending anatomy, are depri ved of priesthood. Is it not because they fail to present as unambiguous, essential males? Could it be that COB’s treatment of transsexuals evidences something besides proper deference to gender roles? Perhaps the practice is merely the latest in a series of reinforcements of heterosexual male privilege. In our tradition we also privilege married, old members in our governance selection, and until recently we privileged non -black people as well. Isn’t this in turn a reflection of our myopic Elohimian worldview where God53 is a non-black, married, old, straight, male? I herald the day when we have a black, single, young lesbian in LDS leadership. Maybe we need a new narrative to rationalize the current sexism. God is just; perhaps He marked people who fence -sat the war in heaven with black skin because of their lack of valiance; He marked people who used short bows instead of long bows during the war with curvy bodies and short genital tubercles so we’d all know their lack of pre -mortal muscly maleness, those weaksauce whimsy warriors. Of course then you’ve got the problem of the black women, who couldn’t have both sat on the fence and engaged with less-effective weaponry… Mormons’ strange bedfellow: why the obsession with genitals? [The Pope’s April 2012 rebuke of calls for ordaining women] poses a challenge not only for sisters, but for all Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition is much richer and deeper than absolute subservience to manmade doctrines on issues related to the pelvic zone 54. This quote could just as easily be Mormon instead of Catholic. I have myself been puzzling lately about the LDS focus on the “pelvic zone,” specifically, the use and length of genitals.   They ground our governance practice (i.e. who gets ordained: penis-at-birth required) They determine what couples should and should not be married (there must be one and only one of each length of tubercle or it’s a no-go, you sinister family-threatening same-sex couples that inexplicably want to form families by getting married)      You mustn’t touch them solo, you self-abusing pervs55 (another thank you to Packer Science TM) We must give an intimate accounting of their employ during worthiness interviews No using them before marriage with a partner, even with consent and contraception at age 45 Male sexual morality (penis in vagina yay, penis elsewhere nay 56 ) And boy howdy, fire and brimstone if you alter them! (see Transsexual transgressions section above)

53 54

Elohim is a plural term; little imagination is required to speculate men, women, brown, black, etc. in that plurality Jamie Manson, LCWR: A radical obedience to the voice of God in our time, 55 For Young Men Only- prepare yourselves, dear masturbating friends: “He might fondle himself and open that releas e valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted again and again to release i t. You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation … it is not pleasing to the Lord” ( ) 56 “God has a penis. Created in his image, his male children also have penises, and they are commanded to use them only in Godlike ways… When I hear liberal Mormons romanticize the notion of gay marriage, I think they are glossing over the cold reality tha t the physical aspects of such unions are simply unacceptable in Mormon theology, period.” Chris Bigelow,


Women have a sizeable arm of flesh too- it's just winged and internal, rather than continuous and external

Sure, how we use our genitals has potential consequences that we should attend (e.g. neurochemical releases, STI’s, pregnancy, exploiting others), but aren’t we just a little too concerned with this one aspect of our anatomy? Does Elohim really care that much about how we employ our arm of flesh? Shouldn’t we strive instead to exercise our hearts and hands to lift humanity through the power of God’s love, and aside from that focus on spiritual rather than anatomical things? Perhaps Lucifer was on to something with the suggestion to take fig leaves and make you aprons to cover our nakedness/pelvic zone. Jehovah went even farther and made coats of skins for our primal parents. We might do well to follow their example: let others keep their privates private. Let’s collectively back off the genital obsession a scotche, shall we?


Oh, and a quick sidenote for those interested. Robert George, a Catholic legal scholar and conservative heavyw eight, made a “penis in vagina57” case against the morality of gay sex and same-sex marriage in a 2010 article. I lambasted his argument in a presentation at a 2011 academic conference- And They Shall Be One Flesh (paper version) and And They Shall Be One Flesh: Why Robert George's "What is Marriage?" Falters (YouTube version). My contentions apply equally against LDS Inc.’s unequal, unfair, and unfounded conclusion that sexual behavior has a different moral character as a function of the number of penises involved 58 .


Now don’t get me wrong, my predilections lie in the P-I-V camp, but if my personal preference were the basis for universal morality, then all the consumers of wasabi out there are in sore need of repentance 58 For the math majors out there, again the correct number of penises in the pair =1. Not 0 or 2, but 1. Talk about a logical phallusy!



Why only one appearance-based spiritual judgment? How often in LDS practice do we make spiritual judgments based on appearance? When choosing who to call as Relief Society instructor, for instance, don’t we pray and consider that person’s behavior, rather than say, “bring forth a picture of each candidate so I can judge the worthiness and fitness of this person’s spirit?” Don’t we ask questions and rely on the Spirit in interviews, rather than telling the member to “come sit down and shut up so I can draw conclusions about your spirit based on your physical appearance?” Do charitable and uncharitable (charity being a spiritual attribute) people have different earlobe lengths or something? Is a person’s height a reflection of worthiness? Using the Outward Appearance TestTM is singularly odd, entirely aside from other descriptions. To paint this picture, I created a table. Importantly, all of the conclusions below are equally warranted (warrant means the amount of good evidence). I fabricated the last two to illustrate how ridiculous it is to base conclusions about spiritual traits on physical attributes: Bodily aspect Born with a vagina, no penis Dark skin, flat nose O-positive blood Tall Conclusion Lack of maleness in the premortal existence Lack of valiance in the premortal existence Has a patient spirit Spiritual worthiness Result No Melchizedek priesthood office No Melchizedek priesthood office Call to work with the youth Give second anointing Warrant points 0 0 0 0



Quick check-in on whether your gender binary bifocals are still on. Have you felt the house of cards toppling?

“DO. NOT. QUESTION. the gender BINARY!! Remember what we did to the transsexuals?”

Again from the ever-scholarly Taylor Petrey 60 : The notion of an eternal gender, referring to physical differences alone, also faces significant theological problems. If gender is “an essential individual characteristic of premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” then presumably the premortal spirit of each individual necessarily corresponds in appearance to the body it inhabits as a kind of facsimile. The challenge with such a view is in saying what kinds of bodily characteristics correspond to one’s preexistent spirit. What is the relationship between one’s eternal identity and one’s contingent genetic makeup, including “sex”? What are the characteristics that make up a morphological sex? Is it just the genitals, or are premortal bodies also capable of reproduction? Do things like performed gender differences, relative height and weight, chemistry, hormones, and muscle build also factor into what makes the “genders” eternally different? Do premortal spirits have chromosomes? What defines physical “gender” that it can persist eternally? There's no attack on an unfounded theological tenet that's quite as lethal as taking it seriously. I end with another Petreyism: If any of the particularities of one’s genetic and environmental circumstances may be said to not preexist with a particular spirit in a deterministic way, why then is sexual difference the exception? To assert that “gender” is more fundamental to one’s identity than these other contingent features begs the question: Of the many different features of human identity, why does sexual difference—whatever that may refer to—occupy a privileged place in the account of the eternal nature of the human being? Keeping tabs on the losers



During May of 2011, I worked for a law professor on a research project about cognitive biases. It proved a fascinating project: turns out, human minds are predictably irrational in a number of rather common and embarrassing ways 61 . One of the books I read for the project pointed out a common failing: keeping tabs on the losers. For instance, at my job we might do 10 intake calls, but only engage 2 clients. A good businessman will track questions like “how long until we called them back? what price did we quote them? which staff made the call?” with respect to the 2 clients that signed the dotted line. A clever businessman will track the other 8 calls, rather than just the 2 that won. Tracking the losers can provide invaluable information, though in everyday behavior we tend to only pay attention to the winners. Here is an application of the keep tabs on the losers principle. As you might imagine, there were several competitors for LDS Inc.’s “governance test” contract. LDS Inc. Contract Manager (CM): *knock knock knock* Bidders: I hear you, what is it you want? CM: A test for discerning spiritual sex! Bidders: There will be many willing to offer you the philosophies of anatomy, mingled with scripture. Turns out LDS Inc. was not at all interested in messengers from Father. There were, however, six philosophies of anatomy offered by astrologists of varying persuasions: Industry Gender Astrology Race Astrology Weight Astrology Blood Astrology Temperature Astrology Charge Astrology Metric Shape Color Weight Blood type Temperature Net charge Underlying Physical Dimension/Property Appearance Appearance Mass Chemistry Molecular energy Electric

All six bidders offered a basis for discriminating into governance classes. Some offered pretty attractive packages, too the weight astrology firm, for instance, proposed using 150.0 pounds as the litmus test (weigh equal or more = govern, weigh less = not govern). They at least had an objective test that doesn’t rely on inconsistent human judgments, and as an added bonus could actually be used to discern a binary (such as spiritual sex)!



Weight astrologists, after all, do the same thing as Internal Gender Astrologists. They take a physical property of the subject’s body (weight), and tell you whatever you want to know about the subject, be it future, spiritual attributes like sex, whatever! Weight just derives conclusions from the physical property of mass, rather than the physical property of appearance. Similarly, blood type, net charge, and temperature astrologists can also deliver spiritual attribute conclusions based on other physical properties of the same body the GA’s bank their Gender Judgment’sTM on.

History reveals, of course, that only the GAA and RAA won contracts with LDS Inc.- all the objective test bidders lost. Instead, LDS Inc. decided to contract with the only two companies that rely on subjective tests, preferring inconsistent human judgments (e.g. Bishop Johnson and Stake President Fernandez disagreeing about whether Mario is black enough to be excluded) to the boring objectivity of a thermometer or a balance scale. 68

Since that day, those the GAA deems non-men are in the nay-governance class, and men are in the yay-governance class. For comparison, those the RAA deemed non-black were also nestled in the yay-governance class. Now in hindsight, we know that the RAA contract was terminated early (1978), and continues to exact a heavy toll from LDS Inc.’s credibility capital account. The only show left in town is the GAA, and they are loosening their collars nervously. Is there, perhaps, something to learn at this juncture from the transactional losers? Some, for instance, would conclude that it is ill-advised at best and ludicrous at worst to base spiritual judgments on physical properties. What do you think? Post-hoc justificaturbating We are slaves to the first few fractions of a second. -Eminent designer and TED speaker, Richard Seymour 62 We’ve established that our GA’s deliver a verdict on someone’s sex before we even turn the ship of our consciousness in the person’s direction. We are unwitting slaves to those first few fractions of a second. Despite the thoughtless rapidity of this process, my fellow Mormons will often go to great lengths to concoct after-the-fact rationales for why their intuitions just HAVE to be right about a person’s sex. "’If it feels right and natural to me, it's got to be correct, know what I'm saying? Now let's make this work, brothers and sisters. Cast the net in the anatomy pool, and ye shall find.’ They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes that confirmed their preconceived notions63 .” I include one of these post-hoc, intensely gratifying fishing ventures by Michael here to illustrate. April 2012 between Brad, *Michael, *Jared, and *Trevor: (I bold some of the more salient parts) It would seem that Brad seems to think that we do not know our spiritual sex. I would argue that the presence of the Y chromosome is clearly proof they were male spiritually before being born. Brad: If that is true, I would posit four questions. (1) what is your warrant (i.e. aren't you blatantly assuming a correlation between Y chromosome and spiritual sex?) Yes, I am blatantly assuming a correlation as it seems the most logical discreet difference, I have no warrant at least not from God. (2) how much of the Y chromosome is needed under your speculative classification scheme? Please answer in base pairs, and respond as to exact number of functional genes, exons, introns, and acceptable transposon threshold. Honestly I was looking at it very binaryily {not sure if that is a word} either the presence of or not.

62 63 John 21:6, not an exact quote ;-)


It is my opinion that the sequenced DNA determines the kind of spirit that can be bound to a body and that its not possible to have a female spirit attached to a set of male DNA and visa versa. Aren't you uncomfortable drawing spiritual conclusions based on DNA/anatomy, as Mormons once did with respect to black males, concluding as to the valiance of their pre -mortal spirits? I am not at all uncomfortable. the church says its a distinct quality there fore it is unless proven otherwise. Trevor: But Brad doesn't claim that it isn't a distinct quality, he simply shows that there is no way to determine this distinct quality in this life without further revelation on the subject. and the most discreet test would then by presence of the Y chromosome. The biggest problem with this assessment is that it is NOT what the Church currently does. No DNA test is required before marriage. ONLY an appearance test. That means that the Church CURRENTLY happily marries (and seals) one genetic male that APPEARS female to another genetic male. That means that physical appearance is currently what is used to determine gender in the Church. So the current Church practice indicates that your proposed genetic assessment is incorrect, because it would lead to many same- genetic-sex (and thus, under your hypothesis, to many same spiritual sex) marriages!


Apparently, the Church either thinks that appearance is more indicative of spiritual sex than DNA, or else they haven't thought about the problem yet. I understand your desire to remain within the "orthodoxy" of the Church. However, it seems to me that it isn't rebellious to simply point out that the current POLICY is insufficient for handling the corner cases given our current understanding of the doctrine of spiritual sex. Clearly more is needed, which is all I am saying. When that "more" comes, I expect that it will answer these (and other) questions. But there is still value in pointing out the need for further revelation on the subject, because revelation comes as a response to a question and a need. Until we recognize the need, we won't ask the questions that will result in the necessary revelations. I am not in a position of authority sufficient that I can receive this revelation, but I am certainly in a position to ask the appropriate question, which is then submitted to the appropriate authorities for an answer. I disagree. However I would agree that the church just hasn't thought it through enough. Or rather assumes honesty so that there is just not that much of a need as this is such a fringe case. How much of a fringe case is it, since it comes up in every gay marriage.



Since we know that same sex marriage is against church policy which me ans is wrong here and in the spirit world The Church's policy was to not ordain black people too, that didn't mean that it was wrong here and in the spirit world to ordain black people, instead, the Church's policy was simply wrong, and in need of correction. You said that they are completely different matters, but that isn't so. What they indicate is that policy can be wrong. As for your discussion about eternal salvation being tied to one and not the other, that too isn't true, since ordination to the priesthood, and receiving temple endowments, is every bit as essential to salvation under Mormon doctrine as is sealing to a spouse. Furthermore, there are many doctrinal reasons why same sex marriages could be approved, without fundamentally changing the plan of salvation (if you think through it for a bit). Then we know if a couple tricks the church by what would amount to lying since the church assumes that your telling the true that if a couple that happens to look normal but knowing gets married and they are aware that both are male genetically but sealed then of course that sealing is null and void. What if they don't know? My central point is just that the Church currently uses appearance as a marker for spiritual sex, NOT DNA, which completely invalidates your proposed gender binary (if the existence of XXY and YY, and X(part Y) genetic individuals didn't already invalidate it).

Break out the Priesthood manual, this person is XY


Perhaps more importantly we all start out biologically female, and become male through the introduction of a hormone in the womb. This hormone changes us in fundamental ways. The release of this hormone is governed by the Y chromosome, yes. But this process can break down or fail in many different ways. If it fails comple tely, we end up with an individual that is female in appearance (and mentality), but who has a Y chromosome, and likely doesn't even know it. I see NO reason to suppose that only a male spirit would inhabit this body that is essentially female in all ways that matter, in appearance, in mentality, in desires, in behavior, etc. So I think that your DNA binary gender assumption completely and utterly fails. 1. it isn't what the Church uses 2. it isn't itself binary, and 3. it doesn't represent what is most essential about our characteristics of gender (who we are attracted to, how we look, and how we behave). I think that these latter elements are far more likely to be indicative of spiritual gender. But if you accept #3, you have a problem maintaining the Church's current policies on gay marriage, which is why I thoroughly believe that we will eventually see a revelation changing the Church's current un-sustainable policy on the matter. I think any kind of conclusion about valiance based on race is not church doctrine. and the church has moved past that so its a none issue. Jared: I can strongly relate to your desire to remain with the orthodox position, but shouldn't the church's past incorrectness on race doctrines at least influence your certainty of its correctness now? And is it really good to stick to a position just because some other authority holds it, regardless of how well-reasoned it is or how well-based it is on the evidence acquired so far? I think we should carefully weigh all beliefs before adopting them, even those advocated by the Church. Thanks for being willing to discuss this. Michael: Granted there can be fringe cases where the DNA is mucked up some how and that should be dealt with intelligently and inline with the wish's of that person as we have no right to make ambiguous determinations for people. Brad: That's exactly my argument with respect to EVERY PERSON. We are all INTERGENDER and we have no reason to conclude that sex is anything more nor less than a spectral photomosaic. The binary fails under every proposed classification scheme, including yours. Your judgment of whether a particular case is "fringe" must itself be based on some classification, and reveals your hand. You have no way to bifurcate humanity, which is plainly required for an applicable "everyone is spiritually male OR female" principle . Certainly I would agree that looks are not always correct but the church should not be changing anything about marriage unless the Prophet determines its Gods will. There is no need to change anything -- an incomprehensible doctrine simply cannot be fairly applied. Acknowledging our lack of basis to discern spiritual sex is enough to justify an altered practice without any necessary doctrinal alteration. As soon as Elohim is willing to reveal to us how to tell a spiritual male from a spiritual female, then we can expect Him to hold us accountable for upholding associated roles. Lastly, as to the fact that he implies women should be in the priesthood, I'm not saying that it won't happen but its not our places to even suggest that the church consider this. I will support the leadership of the church as to this but this 72

does not seem to be related to the original issue about subjecting women which the LDS church does not at all nor does transhuminisn as far as I can tell. The original issue/question is whether we have a workable gender binary in our theology. I show that we do not. Thus, we have no basis to grant one sex governance authority while denying it to another. We are equally warranted in allocating governance authority based on spiritual spleen size. Again, I would argue that men and women are equal but different fundamentally and spirits are tied to DNA which is a clear indication of the underlying sex of the spirit and we should be actively engaged in protecting the church's status quo regarding marriage and sex. Brad: Life evolved long before the two-sex system did, and Y chromosomes are just one of thousands of means to that end. Even if you succeed somehow in discretizing the gray reality of DNA into your desired black and white, you still have no good reason to consider birth or conception anatomy a revelation from God. Genome and gene expression can be altered anywhere along the path, and you'll run into logical tangles anywhere along that chronology you try to draw the line. In the meantime I counterpropose that we consider the scales of human suffering and human flourishing, as well as the glorious myth of human equality, rather than scrutinizing and hair-splitting on a radical theology that treats anatomy at some arbitrary moment as revelation. Trevor: First of all, the Church does not require a DNA test before allowing marriage, so I think that this DNA based conception of spiritual sex misses the boat in a rather large way. Next, what do we do with someone who is genetically male, but who physically appears female? As things currently stand, that person could marry a male, but not a female. What about someone who is genetically female, but who physically appears male? As things currently stand, that person could marry a female, but not a male. So clearly something is broken in Church policy in this regard. What about someone who is genetically XXY? Who can they marry? What about someone who is genetically male, but mentally female? We all start out female, but then a certain hormone in the womb makes us male. What if this person's brain never got that hormone, so that they have a female brain but a male body and DNA? Are you SURE that only a male spirit could/would inhabit this body? I am not. Where did you get that doctrine from? It's not clear at all. "But that's just the rare corner cases..." you argue "...and we shouldn't be setting general policy on rare corner cases". But that's just it. EVERY gay person is partially intersexed, at least in their "who am I attracted to" portion of their brains. So EVERY gay marriage IS one of these corner cases. Every one of these cases involves someone intersexed in some way wanting to marry another intersexed person. And in these cases, I know of no sure way of measuring for what Brad calls their "spiritual sex." So if you come up with one, by all means let us know, but I am not at all sure that the DNA proposal is convincing in any serious degree. *conversation end*


"Hey guys, I think I found the gender binary test!"

It's kind of funny to see the cascading, contradictory tests that people put forward. If we're candid, we confess that we trust whatever the GAA spits out and refuse to inspect the machinations under the hood. Nonetheless, you can imagine a discussion between hardline sex warrior Elder Bednar65 and a biology grad student: Bednar: "Well, it's whether they have a penis." Grad Student: The penis and the clitoris are iterations of the same predicate structure, and there is every degree of difference in length and external/internality present in the human population. B: "Okay then. Let's go to DNA!" GS: There is no universal genetic test for discerning male/female, and in fact many of those posited conclude that people we would unequivocally tag as female (look female, raised female, sent to Relief Society, act female, themselves freely identify as female) are in fact male, and vice-versa.

Plus, when's the last time a youth leader demanded a cheek swab before sending a new 12-year-old to Deacons' Quorum vs. Beehives? When's the last time a father demanded an androgen sensitivity screening before ordaining his son an elder? When's the last time a bishop asked for a lab report from the geneticist before performing a marriage? No. We most definitely have an appearance -based system of sex discrimination in the church.


"[Gender] in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary. … The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness” (“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” Liahona, June 2006, 51; Ensign, June 2006, 83) 74

The important question is, is it a boy pickle or a girl pickle?

B: "Hmm. Well, I remember a color-by-numbers book I did once about making little boys. How about the presence or absence of the Y chromosome?" GS: You're kidding me, right? When's the last time you tested someone for whether they have a Y chromosome before tagging them as male/female and treating them accordingly? Did I miss the “mass membership genotyping” edict?

Plus, you run into the same contradictions, e.g. Taylor has a Y chromosome but the main functional gene doesn't transcribe, and consequently Taylor is by all other metrics unarguably female? Seriously, if you're going to play at theology-by-anatomy, you should probably pick some credible biologists for the top roles. The one physician you have in the Quorum has stated over the pulpit that life begins at conception, a patently unsustainable proposition for a plethora of reasons 66, and another apostle is on record for numerous, laughable biological errors, including the proposition that there is no homosexuality in the animal kingdom. 67


See as an example my post highlighting fission/fusion illogic, 67 In Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 91–95; or Ensign, May 1992, 66–68, -marriage-studentmanual/m2-morality-5.asp


Never confuse certainty for proof During my last two years in grad school at BYU, I served as President of BYU Jail Outreach. We arranged to have a wrongfully convicted man, Juan Melendez68, come speak to us69 . He was exonerated after 17 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, after discovery of a taped confession of the real murderer. Despite the best of feelings that existed in the jury circle, namely the conviction that Juan was guilty, they were wrong. They convicted in the absence of good evidence. No matter how good the feelings or how high the consensus in the circl e- even if most of us are just as convinced as those jurors were that we just know- we don’t. We must stop passing spiritual sex verdicts on people- we simply don’t have enough evidence to convict.

Juan Melendez

Also, we should never confuse certainty for warrant. What matters is a proponent's PROOF, not a proponent's conviction. If your everyday astrologist is not 80%, but 100% sure that your Mom just died, you might still want to check on that before inviting everyone to the funeral. Similarly, we have NO PROOF, not a single iota of solid reason or evidence to found a conclusion of spiritual sex based on a person's appearance. Instead, as noted in chapter 1, we buy anything in this world with assumptions- namely, we buy the conviction that we know someone’s spiritual sex with the assumption that spiritual sex causes birth genitalia. Acknowledging one’s ignorance is the first step on the path of wisdom. At least, that is the way Father gained his knowledge. We resist this deduction (i.e. that we lack any warrant for the Spiritual Sex Scheme) because of the potent, entrenched gender binary paradigm we have relied on our entire lives. In fact, we are hard pressed to conceive of anything more natural and intuitive: the gender binary is foundational to how we perceive the world.
68 69 Sweet guy, I loved talking with him.


Gender binary defender: "Behold my greatness and glory!"

Why are we so wedded to the gender binary? It may be that we evolved to perceive the world with gender bifocals. It's almost impossible to perceive an individual- instead, we "see" only males and females. We have no problem perceiving a person without respect to the individual's political allegiance; we fail spectacularly at perceiving a person without respect to the individual's biological sex. Comedian Brian Regan parodies this reality (listen from 2:52-3:16; transcript in footnote) ( 70 .

As much as I hate to be the harbinger of ill tidings, though, I've got to break the news to you-- Santa ain’t real. There's nothing but a programmed brain module behind the curtain, a subconscious Gender Astrologist manipulating the levers we find so comfortable and familiar. We've been collectively punked. Don't be too hard on yourself, but do embrace the truth-- after all, that's what Mormons do at their best.


“Have you ever guessed someone's gender wrong? There's no recovering from that. You just gotta move on, 'cause you ain't wigglin' out of anything. "Hey, uh, excuse me, Sir?" "MA'AM" "Okay. K bye! Bye, human. Bye, person. Nice to meet you, individual!" Compare to "Hey, uh, excuse me, Democrat?" "REPUBLICAN" "Okay. K bye! Bye, human. Bye, person. Nice to meet you, individual!" 77

The main problems for any theology that begins with a fixed notion of roles, gender binarism, or innate characteristics of what constitute masculine and feminine characteristics is that it’s rooted in a fantasmatic idealization of such differences rather than any universal instantiation 71. Let me end this section on “A philosophy of anatomy, mingled with scripture” with one teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy suggestion to you, dear reader and you, dear LDS theologians. STOP HIRING ASTROLOGISTS TO MANAGE YOUR THEOLOGY.


Taylor Petrey strikes again,


3. LDS, Inc.
Now that we’ve spent a considerable page count fighting the Matrix, we turn to my promised explanation. To avoid appearing overly unfair, I now more fully explain why I refer throughout this work to LDS Inc. or COB rather than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or The Church. I’m no corporate historian 72, mind you, but I will attempt to outline the facts.

First off- there is no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints any more than there is a Santa Clause. Well, I suppose unless you count the IRI’s (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.) trademark 73. Okay, let me back up. There used to be a church- it was incorporated under the State of Deseret 74 in 1851. It was dissolved though by the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887 (y’know, when everyone was so uptight about the whole polygamy thing 75) and the dissolution was upheld in 1890 by the US Supreme Court in the auspiciously-named LDS Church v. United States (damn, we lost). Then there was no church for a while and local bishops, in keeping with long tradition, o wned church property as trustees-in-trust. This caused all sorts of problems, though (imagine a bishop going rogue and taking the property with, or in the case of Brigham Young, inserting oneself into the presiding bishopric long enough for the presiding b ishop to die, then declare himself trustee in trust to gain title to vast quantities of church property, leaving his abundant posterity to squabble over the takings upon his death). Thus, executives elected to create on July 13th, 1916, the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints76. The CPB is in good standing today, entity # 553976-0145, registered agent my former stake president, the exceptionally competent Von G. Keetch. Shortly thereafter on November 26th, 1923, executives created the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (COP), which also Does Business As (DBA) Deseret Pasta and Promised Valley Playhouse.


I have experience with NAICS codes and business entities for work, though- I actually find corporate law and industry research fairly fascinating, twisted I know 73 “"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," "Liahona," "Book of Mormon," and "Mormon" are trademarks of Intellectual Reserve, Inc.” 74 A brief provisional state that the federal gov’t never recognized, encompassing most of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. The Utah Territory created in 1850 by Congress covered most of Utah and Nevada. 75 Interesting twist of fate- Edmunds-Tucker was overturned the same year as the priesthood ban, i.e. 1978 76 Also DBA Vernon Utah Livestock


Both the CPB and the COB are Corporations Sole, which means all the ownership and control belongs to a sole individual, in this case either the Presiding Bishop or the President of what we call the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -day SaintsTM77. Now, members of non-profit corporations (such as most churches) hold rights equivalent to that of shareholders in for-profit corporations, including votes at shareholder meetings. In a corporation sole, the system is quite different. From COP’s Articles of Incorporation: The object of this corporation shall be to acquire, hold and dispose of such real and personal property as may be conveyed to or acquired by said corporation… this corporation shall have power, without any authority or


For once this is an actual trademark, owned by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., an NAICS 8319 “Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations” entity that does business as (DBA) ZCMI and Brigham Creek Dairy. IRI was born November 26, 1997, o n the exact 74th anniversary of COP.


authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property 78. Church members like you and me aren’t really members of anything- certainly not the COP or CPB. Our names sit in a department database, housed in a server owned and operated by a multi-billion-dollar corporation. We have no say in corporate governance, asset distribution, or succession: though some of COP and CPB’s corporate offspring (some prophet79, some non-prophet80 ), such as Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Deseret Book, Bonneville Communications, and Deseret News, do. It doesn’t pay to be a child of God, though it certainly does to be a child of COB 81, in LDS Inc. In a corporation sole, the CEO holds all the keys- to corporate accounts, that is. Thomas $. Monson could unilaterally convert LDS chapels into Lairs of Donut Sales if He chose, and none could legally oppose Him 82. Okay, so that’s the scoop on assets and membership. But what of succession- when the Sole’s soul passes?

Corporate succession

Lloyd Newell

I remember learning about prophetic succession in my Teachings of the Living Prophets class at BYU, taught by the voice of Music and the Spoken Word, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Ph.D Lloyd Newell ( great voice- picked his class over a competing one at the same hour for that very reason). I love Brother Newell, by the way: we’ve had some excellent conversations in his office. Aside aside, Brother Newell taught us how the Apostle with the most seniority automatically becomes the next President of the Church. When the Prophet dies, the next heartbeat of the most senior Apostle is the first heartbeat of the new King. Squeaky clean succession- no lots cast, no elections, no confusion83 . It wasn’t until later that I learned the derivation of this prayer-proof process: the COP’s corporate charter! (Which you can read in all its titillating legalese for yourself online84). Amendment Fourth of the Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation explains why the divine succession process is delineated in a corporate charter:
78 79, emphasis mine Most are headed by high-ranking LDS executives 80 Some subsidiaries are 501(c)3, some are not- the COP and CPB themsel ves are 81 Offspring of sexless single parents? How very un-Mormon. Unlike post-manifesto polygyny, at least this time the family relationships are registered with the state 82 As numerous commentators have noted, that magnitude of centralized power unsurpr isingly creates a cult of prophet worship (jury’s out, of course, on whether that’s a good thing). 83 Like there was when Joseph died- see John Hamer’s excellent work for the messy schisms that crisis produced


it being the purpose of these articles that there shall be no failure in succession in the office of such corporation sole. And that is how we get a new Profit. This predictable CEO selection process leads to fun probability calculations 85:

Now that we’ve touched on succession, let’s return to discussing entity status. You may not be aware that most selfrespecting churches have the decency to register as non-prophets. Not so with the explicitly for-prophet (specifically, for-the-sole-Prophet who unilaterally controls assets of approx. 30 billion) corporation that owns the Mormons. 86 (Which I lovingly and collectively refer to as COB 87 for Church Office Building, though more precisely it’s COP+CPB+subsidiaries.) Church Church of Christ of Brigham City The Church of God (Seventh-Day) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints COP Entity status Non-profit Non-profit Industry Classification Religious Organization (NAICS 8131) Religious Organization

Doesn't exist N/a Corporation Sole Corporation Sole Non-profit Nonclassifiable Establishment (NAICS 9999) Nonclassifiable Establishment Religious Organization

CPB Church of God in Christ

84 85 86 Thanks for doing some of the legwork and introducing smart-ass terminology I shamelessly stole, Daymon Smith, author of The Book of Mammon: a book about a book about the corporation that owns the Mormons 87 I should disclose some prejudice here- on my first and only visit to the physical COB, I was pinched and trapped in the security gate (didn’t realize I had to check in first), only to be rescued by a smiling, startlingly-Lloyd-Newell-look-alike guard. I sure hope that experience does not portend ill!



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the US Supreme Court pointed out* in CPB v. Amos89, is in fact unincorporated. We belong to the Church of… well, nothing really 90 . Though our tithing funds and donations, on the other hand, definitely and most legally and irrevocably do belong: namely, to the current Dear Leader. Thank Joseph for Cob's Army of Accountants, Asset Analysts, and Faithful Finance Forecasters to manage His 30 billion 91 worth of assets and investments, not to mention the ineluctable revenue streams!

88 89 – Does not DBA as anything, esp. Mammon “The CPB and the COP are "corporations sole" organized under Utah law to perform various activities on behalf of the Church.” Another couple gems from the ever-practical Court’s opinion: “Temple recommends are issued only to individuals who observe the Church's standards in such matters as regular church attendance, tithing, and abstinence from coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco” plus the quoting of the Dedicatory Prayer for the Gymnasium. 90 And, if you’re a woman, no hope of that EVER changing. A man has, at least in theory, a p ossibility of becoming the soul of the Sole. If you’re a really good cross-dresser, though, maybe you could swing something crazy 91 LDS Inc. “resembles a sanctified multinational corporation—the General Electric of American religion, with global ambitions and an estimated net worth of $30 billion.” Mormons Rock! by Walter Kirn, Newsweek magazine, June 5, 2011


CPB Asset Management: It's all about the Benjamin's

*CPB v. Amos was a case where a man’s exercise of religion cost him his job at the hands of LDS Inc. The US Supreme Court said: “Undoubtedly, Mayson's freedom of choice in religious matters was impinged upon, but it was the Church (through the COP and the CPB), and not the Government, who put him to the choice of changing his religious practices or losing his job 92.” Another bias disclosure: as the brother of a BYU student who was kicked out for converting away from LDS faith, I find this preference for group over individual religious liberty a kick in the teeth of Article of Faith 11, which prescribes to individuals religious freedom “how where or what they may.” To fiercely claim corporate religious freedom, such as by affirming gay rights "so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference93," while simultaneously depriving individuals of their education degrees and livelihoods as a consequence of religious choice away from LDS orthodoxy, evidences an ugly hypocrisy 94. But hey, who can fault following Jesus’s pro-establishment example of prioritizing institutions over people95? When I did an entity search on Utah’s Division of Corporations and Commercial Code in early June I got this message:

92 93

Footnote 15 of the opinion The Divine Institution of Marriage 94 I’ve spoken much about LDS/BYU individual religious freedom practices, e.g. and 95 Though there is some debate about The Mighty God’s entrepreneurial priority and prowess- the one entity He founded in His mortality, the Meridian Church, didn’t actually last all that long, and was relatively puny compared to the congregations of competitor deities. Plus, his compliments paid to existing institutions were, shall we say, scant.



Any takers? Yes, we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely Apostles, Profits, Public Relations Departments, Corporations Sole, and so forth. In conclusion, LDS Inc. refers to that constellation of correlated corporations that constitute what most people refer to as “the Church97.”

96 97

Daymon Smith provides a nuanced approach to interpreting the term in his May 2012 article, “Being In Impostasy. What is, The Church?”


Part II: On Activism 4. Towards LDS Feminism
Now that we’ve completed Part I: Gendered Theology, it’s time to begin Part II: On Activism. Let’s start off with a chapter on LDS feminism issues.

Rebuttals to Common Anti Equality Arguments
What is the current status of women in the church? This section will hit some of the common defenses made against the accusation of LDS sexism.

Margaret Toscano, MWF Founder

I attended my first Sunstone Symposium in August of 2010. That symposium accelerated the progress of my feminist awakening. During the Mormon Women’s Forum (MWF), I heard the panelists (including Margaret Toscano of September Six fame) talk about several of the ways that LDS leaders and members try to prove that “we really do treat men and women equally in the church!” Given the obvious inequity, a number of creative approaches have crept in:

Myth Men start out spiritually inferior to women, and having the priesthood balances them out (the notch-downmen approach, popular folklore in male LDS circles) Motherhood and the power to conceive a child is so awesome, men need priesthood to make them equal

Rebuttal (A) The claim is speculative. (B) No mother sees her newborn son and exclaims, "I can't wait for him to be ordained at 12 to equal so he's finally equal to my daughter." (C) Men are no more or less spiritually crippled/in need of a handicap to bring them up to snuff than are women. (A) Nope. Fatherhood, not priesthood, is the counterpart to motherhood. And under current constraints, turns out, both men and women are needed to procreate. 86

to women (the notch-up-women approach, popularized by Uchtdorf, Faust, and others, e.g. Hinckley's "women are the crowning creation" language)

(B) This myth magnifies the dark underbelly of pronatalism. Some women are infertile! Are we to conclude that, once this primary source of their self-worth is extinguished, that they are now less female, or perhaps second class? Infertile men at least still exercise priesthood. (C) Not all women become mothers (or spouses, which LDS’s hope accompanies motherhood), but single men are ordained as a matter of course. Governance has always been the litmus test for equality. You can tell a marginalized class by their exclusion from access to voting and public office by either law or glass ceiling (think Blacks, Jews, Irish, women, etc. in history). Separate but equal only holds up when there's a discernible, relevant difference (forcing a female but not a male to undergo a pregnancy screening, for instance, might qualify as just discrimination-excluding a woman from pursuing public office or the apostleship does not). You’re kidding, right? Heavenly Mother and scriptural women get as much stage time as Passerby #16 in Hamlet. Prayers, scripture, temple, and Sunday services teach male narratives written by male authors to male audiences using male pronouns and encouraging worship of a male and that male’s male child. This wouldn’t be so bad (i.e. the male narratives, especially Christ’s, could be interpreted as universal human stories) except for your dogged insistence about the eternal significance of gender roles and the differences between the sexes. A worthy woman isn’t permitted to represent Jesus at the veil, ostensibly because, in emulating her Savior, maleness is more significant than faithfulness, worthiness, or discipleship. Women don't participate in general governance (matters that pertain to the community as a whole). They only lead subsets of the whole (e.g. the Relief Society), and are categorically excluded from at least the top five levels of the hierarchy globally (FP, Qof12, Presidency of the 70, Quorums of 70, Presiding Bishopric) and the top three locally (Stake Presidency, Stake High Council, Bishopric).

Women and men are equal, they just have different roles

There are women in the scriptures, and we believe in Heavenly Mother

Women do lead in the church!


A tale of three pictures


Check out all that pink! See, we are definitely into women leaders and gender equality





Well maybe not 50/50 male-female per se...


Oh sh**

In conclusion, LDS women are accorded less dignity than LDS men, as evidenced by their exclusion from community governance boards. Women make great bishops Now that we’ve addressed some of the common defenses against the accusation of LDS sexism, we turn to the subject of female ecclesiastic leadership.



At BYU, I was one of a handful of men who chose to attend the Women’s Leadership Conference. It was an inspiring experience for me-- my pen was flowing with notes, and I felt to emulate those women. That was not my last brush with female clergy. A few months ago I attended an all-black protestant congregation. The parishioners were extremely nice and the preacher, a woman, delivered a substantive and uplifting sermon about receiving chastisement from the Lord. Partway through the service, a few members performed some hymns while she engaged in the laying on hands and whispering to the burdened, sick, and troubled who congregated at the front. It was a sacred experience for me, to witness her ministering just as the Savior did in His day.

I've also listened to several sermons preached by female episcopal clergy. I've seen women engaged in every imaginable Christ-like service. When I served as Sunday School president, I treated my female secretary just as I did my male counselors, asking for ideas and opinions-- it just seemed strange to esteem her otherwise 101 . As a fresh zone leader, I recall felt slightly embarrassed to ask for a report from a particularly capable and mature sister missionary- it seemed backwards, I wanted to learn from her. At BYU Law School, I was surrounded by female powerhouses who outperformed me and many of my male classmates on every conceivable metric. The women I worked with there are most definitely cut out for high leadership positions, and I don’t just mean the faculty. Their governance cups runneth o’er -


I would have had zero qualms about serving under her, too. I’ve had multiple female direct supervisors for jobs and spent a couple decades happily subordinate to my mother: female leadership of men is a no -brainer and a non-issue


it is indeed hard for me to grasp their deference to LDS governance sexism, when my potent female LDS colleagues routinely shatter glass ceilings in comparable environs.

Sexist governance? Thumbs up

Speaking of performance, we know that women perform ordinances inside the temple. Why would they be inherently unfit to perform ordinances outside it as well? Especially given the evidence that they governed and performed ordinances in the primitive church? Our pioneer foremothers of the Restoration movement gave blessings, anointed the sick and pregnant, etc.: why not rely on that precedent as we rely on the precedent of Elijah Abel with respect to ordaining black men? I'm just baffled. Wouldn't our church be better if we esteemed women as equal to men in both practice and precept? If God can cause babes to prophecy, surely He can cause His daughters to be capable of governance? We have ample historic, pragmatic, and moral reasons to justify the reform. I am convinced that LDS women would be awesome bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, apostles, and the Prophet. Wouldn’t including women in high callings enrich our tradition, rather than impoverish it? Where would our Church be now if we’d had women apostles and prophets over the last century wouldn’t it just be better? Women are visionary, creative, vibrant, rational decision makers, they really really are. I’ve never seen better leaders than among their ranks. Why are we behind the curve? We should be on the leading, not the lagging, edge of promoting social justice (the way *ahem* Jesus was). It is a tarnish to our progressive tradition that, rather than embracing gay marriage early on as a 92

natural outgrowth of our inclusive, pro-family orientation, we instead adopted the digressive position of opposing marriage equality. Say we prophetically started marrying gays in 1952- can you imagine how good we’d look now to be on the right side of history?

Much as we were years behind the American zeitgeist 102 in rejecting racism, however, we are sadly lagging in rejecting the "wild fruits" of heterosexism and sexism in our culture. The cost to our LDS communities, in terms of hemorrhaging feminists and pro-gay members, is staggering and unnecessary.


Culture of the place and time; the German word for ‘time‐spirit’, more often translated as ‘spirit of the age’. It usually refers to the prevailing mood or attitude of a given period



It is a sad reflection on our Restoration tradition that we are so far behi nd the advance of social justiceour race-based priesthood allocation, woefully backward same-sex-relationship rhetoric, and adherence to unsupported and harmful gender-role assumptions do not reflect well on the brazen progressive tradition of Mormonism's teen years. I’m convinced we can do better as a maturing LDS community. We should have been embracing gay families and same-sex marriages for decades in keeping with our revelatory tradition, rather than rejecting and marginalizing them as part of a bizarre alliance with societal and conservative religious elements that condemn same -gender love (you know, the kind of love, unity and commitment demonstrated by the three males in the Godhead or First Presidency, for instance).



Same-sex unions aren't ALL bad

We should have been ordaining women for decades, too. It’s 2012, though, and we can’t go back in time. If we can’t lead the pack, at least let’s make some big strides to catch up. Pragmatically, the sooner we come to our senses and abandon sexism, the more PR points we will score- rather than another disaster that results from being so painfully behind (1978 was LATE folks, dreadfully so). Please brothers and sisters104, let’s lay down the weapons of our sex warfare deep in the earth and covenant to leave them there. Some more iniquities inequities I list here a few more evidences of sexism:   Men are expected to serve 24-month missions. Women serve optional 18 month missions. Why? Women are precluded from holding leadership positions in the mission field 105. Again, why? District leader is not a priesthood office, folks, and Sister Missionaries carry a minister card in their pockets too (not to mention an extra two years of crucial maturity).   Sunday school presidents are male-only. Why again is a penis needed for that role? Marriage is a give-and-take relationship-- that only goes in one direction. Sealings:

104 105

And otherwise gendered siblings Though I hear the temple square mission is an exception, darn apostates


“[Officiator to the groom] do you take Sister ______ by the right hand and receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife… Officiator: Sister ______ do you take brother ______ by the right hand and give yourself to him to be his lawful and wedded wife”  Polygamy- yep, we still practice it (with a face-saving chronological separation these days, luckily). Well, technically we only practice polygyny (man+ many women); all’s not fair in love and war, there’s no polyandry (woman+ many men). Agent-Smiths-only manual, 3.6.1: o o  Women: A living woman may be sealed to only one husband. Men: If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may have another woman sealed to him if she is not already sealed to another man. Scenario A: Mark is sealed to Mary. Mark divorces Mary, letters flutter back and forth between the Agent Smiths that oversee Mark and Mary, then Mark gets sealed to Martha. No problem. Scenario B: Jenny is sealed to Johnny. Jenny divorces Johnny, letters flutter back and forth between the Agent Smiths that oversee Jenny and Johnny, then Jenny gets sealedmarried to Jimmy. Woman must be sealed male attachés, not the other way ‘round  And did you hear about the debate over whether women should be permitted to offer prayers106 in general conference? Really? It's 2012, 90 years after the victory of women’s suffrage in America, and we're haggling about whether a woman can say a prayer at general conference?  As mentioned already in chapter 1: ritualistic de-individuation for women but not men. Sexist facial veiling is not unique to our LDS tradition:


Some pockets even refused to allow women to open sacrament meeting, another appearance-based practice eliminated in 1978


Get mad already! As many MoFem’s have noted, the vanguard of patriarchy in the LDS church is its women. It seems most active LDS women embrace the current structure, and many of the MoFem subset care more about Heavenly Mother and blessing their children than they do about governance. I hope to convince more MoFems to be indignant about governance inequality, and for two reasons. (1) If you win the governance battle, blessing kids and preaching Heavenly Mother will follow (2) Governance matters. Women are being treated like children at Thanksgiving. Even if you personally are content with the kiddee table for whatever reason, please be mad that your sisters who want, and are qualified, to sit at the Big Table are denied the privilege. Angry activist women = the #1 most important ingredient for catalyzing the change required for eventual governance equality.

Lessons from Bottgate
Did you follow Bottgate in February/March 2012? The fiasco erupted upon publication of Washington Post reporter Jason Horowitz’s article on LDS racism, where he quoted from an interview with BYU professor Randy Bott (a mentor and teacher of mine I’ve known for a decade.) I will do strikethroughs in the following to drive home the analogy between race and sex discrimination (words in blue are my additions). From the article-


“In his office, religion professor Randy Bott ex plains a possible theological underpinning of the ban. According to Mormon scriptures, the descendants of Cain, who killed his brother, Abel, “were black.” One of Cain’s descendants was Egy ptus, a woman Mormons believe was the namesake of Egy pt. She married Ham, whose descendants were themselves cursed and, in the v iew of many Mormons, barred from the priesthood by his father, Noah. Ev e was the first to partake of the fruit. Bott points to the Mormon holy text the Book of Abraham Moses as suggesting that all of the descendants of Ham and Egy ptus daughters of Ev e were thus black and barred from the priesthood. It’s not clear whether Joseph Smith, the religion’s founder, who ordained at least one black priest, supported the ban. But his successor, Brigham Y oung, enforced it enthusiastically as the word of God, supporting slavery in Utah and decreeing that the “m ark” on Cain to determine who should be banned from the priesthood was “the flat nose and black skin curvy body and short genital tubercle.” Young subsequently urged immediate death to any participant in mix ing of the races. As recently as 1 949, church leaders suggested that the ban on blacks women resulted from the consequences of the “conduct of spirits in the pre -mortal existence.” a bizarre non-sequitur between Ev e’s conduct and the fact that one is born a female . As a result, many Mormons believed


that blacks were less v aliant in the pre -Earth life, or fence sitters in the war between God and Satan God women just aren’t built to govern things. That v iew has fallen out of fav or in recent decades. “God has alway s been discriminatory” when it comes t o whom he grants the authority of the priesthood, says Bott, the BY U theologian. He quotes Mormon scripture that states that the Lord giv es to people “all that he seeth fit.” Bott compares blacks women with a y oung child prematurely asking for the key s to her father’s car, and ex plains that similarly until 197 8, the Lord determined that blacks women were not yet ready for the priesthood. “What is discrimination?” Bott asks. “I think that is keeping something from somebody that would be a benefit for them, right? But what if it wouldn’t hav e been a benefit to them?” Bott say s that the denial of the priesthood to blacks women on Earth — although not in the afterlife — protected them from the lowest rungs of hell reserved for people who abuse their priesthood powers. “You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality women not hav ing the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could giv e them.”

Most Mormons have little trouble rejecting Brother Bott’s reasoning. I am not alone is seeing no good explanation for our racist priesthood allocation practice except “we were wrong.” However, I join a slimmer minority that reaches the same conclusion with respect to our sexist priesthood allocation practice. Nonetheless, I published a parody of the LDS Newsroom’s response to Bottgate : Future PR Department Statement: We Aren’t Sexist Anymore
Response — 29 February 2082 Salt Lake City — The Church issued the following statement today in response to news media requests: The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott III in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said. The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate sexism in any form. For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for female members. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended weeks ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding. We condemn sexism, including any and all past sexism by individuals both inside and outside the



Official Statement
The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching. People of all genders have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed misogyny. During this time some females were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining female members, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. Church leaders sought divine guidance regarding the issue and more than three weeks ago extended the priesthood to all worthy members. The Church immediately began ordaining members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world. The Church unequivocally condemns sexism, including any and all past sexism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2076, then Church president Gordon Hinckley III declared that “no one who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another sex can consider oneself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can one consider oneself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a child of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.” Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject: “The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

You’ll note that the date given is 2082- I sincerely believe that date can be sooner, and as I will explore below, I support a “Governance Equality by 2042” campaign. I truly believe the steps Mormon feminist activists take now will help decide the forty year difference, but given the trajectory of the zeitgeist and the justice of the cause, it will come sooner or later.

Further light
God has yet to reveal many great and important things107. I'm determined to do my part to help make our tradition revelatory and filled with light and answers from heaven again, rather than maintaining a vice grip on the incomprehensible. Our heterosexist and sexist problems can be addressed; the targets to aim for, as I've argued in numerous forums before and will continue to maintain, are (1) governance equality and (2) marriage equality. Treat similar things similarly- that is the obligation of fairness, and the privilege of Christians.


Article of Faith 9


Oughtn't we all to wait for further light and knowledge before discriminating based on our assumptions? Can you imagine this conversation at the judgment bar? Picture yourself as an LDS bishop who, as a matter of conscience, performed a same-sex marriage between two loving, committed members of his singles ward.

Jesus: "I'm afraid I can't let you in. You performed a same-sex marriage while on earth." You: “But Lord,” you plead, “they were in love and chose to get married! I perform marriages for opposite-sex couples in their position- it would be unfair to say no to them." Jesus: “Didn't you listen to my servants? I told you how important it is to only marry opposite-sex couples!" You: "Yes Lord, but you said it was spiritual sex that matters, then never revealed to us how to tell the difference between the two. You said each child of yours is either a spiritual male or female, but things are messy down here and there is NO test that puts everyone into two categories. How was I supposed to apply your black and white law in a world of only gray? And even if there were a clean break, I had no basis for presuming a correlation between spiritual and physical sex. I’d have to assume that other anatomical features present at birth, such as permanent mental incompetence, are reflections of permanent spiritual incompetence, which is senseless since we all made a moral choice (which requires competence) to follow Thy plan, as evidenced by our presence in mortality. Also, at the moment of conception, a zygote is bipotential. The default sex is femalemasculinization takes place later on during development, if it occurs at all. Your servant Russell taught that life begins at conception. Thus, we should assign spiritual sex at conception, rather than birth, in which case we are ALL spiritual females, and all couples are same-sex. I had to then choose between performing marriages for all the couples, or none. Because you said, “verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man,” I chose “all” instead of “none” and performed the marriage.


Last, didn't you also say that it is not good for man to be alone (and even if you want to strictly interpret that as males rather than humans, at least male-male relationships should be approved, right)? Didn't you teach that men are that they might have joy, and categorically prescribing lifelong celibacy and romantic deprivation countered that principle? Did you not command us to do many things of our own free will and to bring to pass much righteousness?" Jesus: "Don't question me, I am unconcerned with your technicalities. Reasoning together with Me ended with Joseph. You, Captain Epistemology, took my word WAY too seriously: I prefer a more kneejerk approach to theology. Depart into that place prepared for deeply mistaken "equality" zealots like you! Oh, and you'll know it's not the good kind of place because women will be in charge there. Talk about messed up, can you imagine! I wouldn’t let a woman make high-level decisions in a million years, and I do mean the Kolob kind. Next!" Or how about this exchange- this time you’re an elder who ordained a woman, again as a matter of personal conscience.

Jesus: "I'm afraid I can't let you in. You ordained a woman while on earth." You: “But Lord,” you plead, “it was my priesthood duty under D&C 20 to ordain other elders. It didn’t seem fair to let only one sex govern, I was trying to favor equality." Jesus: “Equality eshwality, when did I ever teach that? Didn't you listen to my servants? I told you how important it is to only ordain men! This is my priesthood, I restrict it at my whim, don’t you remember the Levites?" You: "Yes Lord, but with the Levites you could tell who was in the tribe - the genealogy was clear because not much time had passed since Levi, the community was fairly small and close -knit, and there were no generation gaps because priesthood was lineal. We don’t have any such black-and-white lines these days, especially on the sex axis. Plus, that priesthood scheme accompanied the lesser law, and governed all sorts of Law of Moses oddities you said were 102

fulfilled in Christ (and that strike us as immoral, like stoning homosexuals to death). Also, your servants quoted that “all are alike” verse on the priesthood allocation question, and Jew/Gentile, bond/free, black/white, and male/female were all explicit dyads in the verse. And anyway, can’t you just “fix it,” the way you do when a woman is sealed to man A, then man A dies three days later, the woman marries man B and raises a family, and only one man “gets” her (I know from your Word that you’re into the whole woman-property thing) in the end? I know you’re very powerful, I believe you can straighten out my error. Heck, you could probably even straighten that error out if it happened a billion times, you’re slick like that. Last, why is it so important to exclude women from priesthood in the first place? We only have a limited number of spots in the hierarchy anyway- if we can ordain all the men to Melchizedek office at 18, why not just do the same thing with women? Spiritually, what can a man do that a woman can’t (I can’t think of a single thing)? What value is there in treating short people (with respect to their genital tubercle) different than tall people?” Jesus: “You impudent, disobedient son of a bishop, I do the thinking around here. Damn you. Next!” I’m waiting for messengers from my father I for one am waiting for the further light and knowledge God must provide before we can apply the Proclamation's spiritual sex doctrine. In the interim, I explicitly choose to uphold the myth of human equality in preference to a practice of patently patriarchal paternalism. I hope to persuade you, dear reader, to the same position. Conclusion But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance facial structure, or on the height of his stature the genital tubercle… for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. At the end of the day, I think we have to admit that we employ a “philosophy of anatomy, mingled with scripture” in our governance and marriage practices. There is no approach more devastating to a deleterious doctrine than to take it seriously. The twin fruits of heterosexism and sexism branch from the trunk of that epistemologically unfounded philosophy. Should we not cast off both wild fruits into the vineyard furnace?


5. Why Sacred Disobedience?
Now that we’ve (1) debunked the philosophy of anatomy mingled with scripture and (2) dabbled in LDS feminist issues, it’s time to turn to the “what now?” question. To begin, reflect with me about how unsustainable it would be if blacks were denied the priesthood today - then again, a subpopulation much larger than African descent is still excluded from LDS governance: Mormon women. In other large organizations, patriarchal hierarchies lead to acts of sacred disobedience (e.g. Catholic bishops that ordain women, resulting in their excommunication but also illicit female Catholic priests).


Why aren't these events more frequent in Mormondom? Why aren't women bloc voting "no" when asked to su stain a male leader, when there are several women in the ward/stake that should be in that position instead? Why aren't a few progressive Bishops calling female Sunday School presidents, or ordaining women? Why aren't women holding on to the sacrament tray and passing it to a few pews rather than humbly returning it to their neighbor's 12 year old son at row's end? Why aren't more LDS women requesting ordination, and connecting with willing Elders that would do the deed? (LDS Elders are unique compared to non-lay-ministry denominations. Elders can ordain others to the priesthood! For those who think women should be ordained, "be the change you wish to see in the world"- more on this score later). Certainly this type of event wouldn't be frequent, but with a large enough sample you expect low probability events to occur. Though most Mormon women do not take issue with the patriarchy, there are too many powerful, organizing, educated LDS women activist leaders that do care about governance equality for there to be no reform. When that circle of women gets large enough, I’m convinced that a subset of it will lead acts of sacred disobedience- and it is that circle I hope to expand through this book.


Thanks to Lorie Winder Stromberg for clueing me into the Womenpriests movement


When the population is large enough, radicals will unerringly crop up

Even though COB wouldn't recognize an ordination and some related acts of sacred disobedience, that kind of event makes waves in the media, and the practice could catch on and even precipitate a tipping point. Social change is typically predicated by this kind of jarring boldness, plus a lot of people willing to suffer violence (in this case, ecclesiastic discipline) for the cause. Witness the civil rights movement (sorry Benson, I know you weren’t a big fan but it was pretty awesome)!

Can we still have Relief Society though? There's no necessary problem with having men and women meet separately, AS LONG AS THEY ARE TREATED EQUALLY. There's not a huge problem with having, say, a Women's Society and a Men's Society, any more than there is a problem having Tongan wards, multiple relief societies or Elders' quorums in large units, or Young-Single-Adult Stakes. Additional tribal identity along any of these dimensions can generate belonging. 105

The rub comes when one group is privileged over the other. Significant authority allocations must be blind to the classes created by sex. Can you imagine if the General Relief Society President managed church finances, published authoritative statements, oversaw correlation, ran general conference, and decided how to structure and direct the church, without allowing any men to make high-level decisions or fill high ministerial roles to the general membership? If the phrase went "women, [men and children]", thereby infantilizing men, rather than "men, [women and children]?" Would we claim to treat the genders equally if men were grouped with children in having to sit at the kids' table at Thanksgiving while the adult women make decisions at the Big Table for the family? Until women and men share governance authority in the church by some other means (say, a woman is called to be a member of the First Presidency and six apostles are replaced by called, but unordained, women), it is necessary for women to be ordained to Melchizedek priesthood office, including High Priest and Apostle. As long as Melchizedek priesthood office is the ticket to the governance table, then it must be given to women. Governance matters. The rising generation “Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers” (Mosiah 26:1). At my first Mormon Stories conference in the summer of 2011 in SLC, I remember a Q and A panel that Joanna Brooks sat on (Joanna had just given an incredible address about Mormon identity that rocked my world- I still refer friends to that landmark speech). I waited my turn, then approached the microphone to ask my question 109 .


You can watch it if you like- pinpoint clip here (2011 SLC Mormon Stories Conference Pt. 3 -- Panel: NavGAting an Open Approach to Mormonism) 1:27:32-1:32:07 - you may need to copy and paste the pinpoint link


I provided some context, talking about the shortcomings of an authoritarian gerontocracy, and my questi on was this: “How to improve the governance of the LDS Church” (specifically, a feasible next step to that end). Apparently this question was so uncomfortable, the mediator felt to restate the question, and the attendees clapped and laug hed. Joanna’s response included the statement that she doesn’t feel positioned to instruct the church on how it’s governed. I respect that position taken by a member of a more seasoned generation, but I don’t agree with it for myself. Why is governance taboo? So much of LDS practice is grassroots, family and locally-based- why would institutional governance be off-limits, when on so many other fronts we are instructed to participate? To reference the Mosiah verse, LDS Inc. governance is a tradition of my fathers, and I don’t fully agree with it. I firmly believe we should have race, age, and gender diversity in the top 15. Righteous traditions should be followed- imperfect ones should be reformed.



Let's face it: structural reform is the elephant in the room for many faithful. None will dare to question "the Brethren." I don't believe God supports a governance model of control and fear. I think She does support a self -governance model where authorized, accountable actors derive their power from orderly consent of the governed. The entire power structure need not be destroyed, but it is appropriate to challenge the illegitimate exercises of authority. It is moral to oppose the current heterosexist and sexist practices of the LDS gerontocracy.



Sonia Johnson was led away by a police officer after she had chained herself to the gate of a Mormon temple during a demonstr ation supporting the Equal Rights Amendment in Bellevue, Wash., in 1980. 111

What is bizarre to me is that LDS activists aren’t sacredly disobeying already. It’s been two decades since we had an oldfashioned mass lynching like the September Six. We’ve been asleep at the wheel! The excommunications had a chilling effect, sure, but it’s a new ball game now (and likely a safer one for dissenters). Mormon Stories, the Bloggernacle, Facebook- it’s too difficult to censor and stem the tide anymore. C’mon now fellow reformers, we can do better- it’s time to come of age and seize our power! If we don’t, the next less-patient generation certainly will. Speaking of which, I’m a big fan of my generation: the Millenials. We're a part of the new crowd, and we're beginning to claim our power. Our generation is not content to clap when the institution takes baby steps. We demand serious reform, and we either see it, or we walk. Too many, in my view, have chosen to walk.

111 -rights-gay-rights-and-the-mormon-church/


In a chapter below I will suggest specific acts of disobedience. Those I’ve spoken with that respond positively to these suggestions are unerringly under 40. Those who resist the suggestions are typically older. Demography is destiny, the writing is on the wall: however you want to say it, the rising generation will grow increasing intolerant of LDS sexism and heterosexism. Their idealism and zeal hasn’t yet been quashed by years of fruitlessly pushing back on a glacier. Marriage and governance equality is intuitive for the rising generation. The rising generation’s intolerance for their fathers’ sexist traditions will increasingly express itself as willingness to pay the price of controversy, agitation, and in some cases, religious martyrdom. Authority- it’s all in your head Please permit a quick but necessary descent into political theory. Leaders have no more power than their communities grant them. Imagine how long the gerontocracy would hold onto power if all LDS women refused to obey them. Their power would evaporate in a moment! Authority is an important and utile myth, but it is still a myth, and rises or falls based on our belief in it. There is no magic Dumbo feather, even in LDS priesthood-based governance! This principle is illustrated masterfully in this exchange between Merlin and Queen Mab. (I won’t ask you to watch this one, but if you’re interested 112 .



In the clip, Merlin defeats Queen Mab by getting everybody to simply forget her. Similarly, police don’t wield authority because of magic that goes with their badge- they wield power because the community acknowledges them. It’s a simple rule of recognition, familiar to legal positivists.

Change is well within our grasp. What we need is coordination and a willingness to engage in activism besides the current most common flavors: (1) writing articles/blogs and (2) leaving the church. Why not normalize LDS sacred disobedience as a supplement to existing activism? It’s sexy, accessible, and effective.


Media = power LDS Inc. is painfully sensitive about their image (much like many of us were in high school). The COB is respo nsive to media attention, as evidenced by the fresh phenomenon of the PR Department Statement (PRDS 113). The potential for negative media attention operates as a stick to limit church action. Witness, for instance, the cancellation of a stake disciplinary council of a legally married same-sex couple when the media light began to shine 114 . I know from personal experience defending another legally same -sex married couple against church discipline that there are ways to change the behavior of LDS leaders. We are not powerless just because we’re low on the totem pole. That’s one of the beauties of sacred disobedience!

LDS Inc.'s PRDSer, Michael Otterson. Love this guy

Another significant example is the PRDS in response 115 to the HRC petition after President Packer’s harmful, ignorant October 2010 general conference statement116 about homosexuality. When I wrote my book on homosexuality, I


PRDS’s are slightly younger than the Spiritual Sex Scheme itself, and are awkward as heck to interpret. Are they authoritative, since they’re COB-approved and use words like “official?” Or are all their statements plausibly deniable since the speakers aren’t ordained oracles? And you thought First Presidency v. Apostle and Apostle A v. Apostle B conflicts were tough to resolve. See also Daymon Smith’s “New ILLIN’ LDS Newsroom Prophecy,” 114 , 115 116 See “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,”, the exact same title as an earlier 1986 address by Benson condemning sexual impurity as next to murder (which, as many have persuasively arg ued, misattributes the verse in question)., see Michael Ash, THE SIN “NEXT TO MURDER”: AN ALTERNATIVE INTERPRETATION,


compiled an exhaustive list of LDS leader statements on the subject117, and I can say with confidence that the PRDS was the most progressive language out there from an authoritative or quasi-authoritative LDS source. (The PR dept. puts out some pretty good stuff, all things considered- Mike Otterson for President!) The main point here is that media attention on governance inequality could bring positive results. Sacred disobedience is hard to ignore. Try something different "If you don't do anything different, ain't nothing gonna change." As far as I'm aware, there has been no consistent, substantial sacred disobedience campaign within Mormon feminism (outside the “I’m walking” movement). The cause is worth paying a price, and this brand of activism will help effect that end. Why not give it a try? Little else seems to have "worked" so far on the governance equality front 118. Indeed, the agitation up to this point hasn't worked, if the metric is governance equality. There are no women in the substantive general governance boards, such as Bishoprics and the Quorum of the Twelve! It's time to try something new, to attempt a power play with a proven track record of achieving governance equality in other comparable conservative institutions (like the American legal system). That something new is sacred disobedience (you know, like the kind Jesus did, e.g. healing on the Sabbath in defiance of the existing hierarchy because that was the right thing to do).

Sacred Disobedience: a persuasive precedent

Tactics analysis: sacred disobedience and direct action So how do we break the patriarchal grip? Recently I was party to a long conversation between two female Christian feminists: one Methodist and the other Mormon. As I listened to these seasoned women talk, I had two insights. First, according to the Methodist theologian, there is no significant feminist movement within Methodism. This surprised me, considering that they are reading from the same male dominated text as LDS (the Bible), and worshipping the gendered Father and Son. I learned the mainstream Methodist denomination has been ordaining women for decades.

See my book, Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective, chapter 2: Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student's Perspective 118 I think “success” in the governance equality context should be measured in the number of years it takes for a woman to be a feasible candidate for the role of President of the Church. The smaller that number, the better.


My confirmation bias whispered to me that many sexist harms are ameliorated when governance equality is instituted. This confirmed what I hope is the case, namely that it is wise to primarily focus on governance equality, which when achieved "trickles down" benefits to other stars in the constellation of Mormon feminist issues (such as temple dichotomies and male-dominated scriptural narrative). Second, I overheard one talk about the salutary effects of having a measure of radical activism. She noted that the radical acts empowered the less brazen types- it encouraged them to take action where they otherwise wouldn't, even though they didn't imitate the exact radical acts. Where Chelsea sits in the Bishop's chair on the stand and refuses to yield when he arrives, Jenna who hears of the act is more willing than she would otherwise be to share quotes from prominent LDS women (rather than just male profits) in Relief Society. That second insight gives one reason "why some sacred disobedience really will forward the cause." Too much radical activity threatens the stability of the governance structure, and even a flawed order is usually preferable to anarchy. However, a dash of yeast truly does leaven the whole loaf- and without some significant sacred disobedience, it may take lifetimes, rather than decades, for governance equality to rise.

You have to have your ticket to the banquet in order to sit down at the table. For Mormons, the ticket to the governance table is Melchizedek priesthood office. Not just priesthood (which endowed women arguably already have)- Melchizedek priesthood office. The problem will be solved when gender expression (i.e. biological sex) is properly rejected as being relevant to selecting members of LDS governance boards. 2012’s genital tubercle length is no more relevant than 1978’s melanin concentration. Let me finish this section on "Why some sacred disobedience really does forward the cause" by restating our problem statement from chapter 1: LDS women do not presently enjoy sufficient access to the governance table. Death by a thousand cuts As patriarchal as our tradition is, it’s largely a benevolent, paternalistic species the reof. Let's be honest, it could be worse (e.g. overt physical oppression, such as that found in human trafficking). Though gay Mormons are killing themselves, I have yet to hear of a Mormon feminist committing suicide over the sexism's patriarchal grip on our tradition. Generally and ideally, priesthood power is wielded in a gentle, caretaking, stewardship, service-oriented way. I’m grateful for that. However, there are still many harms. 114

Consider the small harm of sustaining a new male Bishop rather than a female Bishop. After all, in a Mormon world of governance equality, that same man might well be called as Bishop (it's just that we would see MORE female bishops, on average, called in a given year across the Church). Much of the sexism in the church is, like this example, of minor mien.

In a similar way, it’s not a huge harm to have a black person board the bus from the back, while a white person boards in the front. However, to achieve equality, we HAVE to make a big deal of the small injustices! Remember Rosa? The driver told her to move one seat- one seat! He didn't ask her to go move a mountain with a spoon- how small of a request is it to move one row back? But Rosa recognized the need to INSIST ON EQUALITY on a small stage- which led to advancing equality on a very Big Stage.

We have to turn one of those "death by a thousand cuts" into a media event. We have to draw a line in the sand, and decide to do a particular act on a particular day. Rosa converted a normal Thursday bus ride home into something extraordinarily catalytic. We need to HIGHLIGHT the harm, the way Rosa did, by refusing to stand (perhaps even literallysee suggestion #1) for a specific, minor injustice. Keep this in mind when you read over the specific activist suggestions in chapter 6. Just be patient I wanted to briefly respond to the “just be patient, the leadership will come around” contention against sacred disobedience. It’s an argument that was used to oppose the civil rights movement of the 60’s as well.


How long is long enough to wait? Isn’t justice too long delayed justice denied? To those that say “be patient,” I ask, what will you do when reform targets aren’t met? When do the consequences kick in to incentivize a departure from, literally, business as usual? It’s like waiting for a sluggish debtor to pay you back- if you keep pushing the deadline back, you’ll get a very different response than if you possess her car until she comes up with the dough.


The LDS gerontocracy has had decades to mitigate or eliminate sexism, and they have accomplished precious little. Justifiably indignant women have languished for decades. Similarly, the gerontocracy has been aware of the dreadful consequences of their harmful and unfounded treatment of same -sex relationships for decades, without appropriate reversal or apology. The Top 15 are the ones asserting their right to rule while refusing to flatten the hierarchy or change policy- who will hold them accountable for their decisions?



It’s now 2012. Women’s suffrage was secured nearly a century ago. It took 129 years (between 1791120 and 1920) for the US Constitution to recognize sex equality. It’s been 182 years since the Restoration (1830 to 2012). It’s time to demand substantive change: in fact, it’s overdue. Think in decades Now, that being said about patience, I do think it is useful to think in terms of decades, rather than the present. A question I ask myself is, “how will what I do now affect LDS governance equality in 2042?” That question is more productive that “how will what I do now affect LDS governance equality in 2012?” (the answer to that question is pretty depressing). Institutional change will come, it’s just a matter of how many decades (witness racial equality in the church). I believe that strategic sacred disobedience now will hasten governance equality by several decades, even if V-day itself is still decades on the horizon. In fact, I hereby start the “Governance Equality by 2042” campaign. The Relief Society was founded March 17, 1842- an LDS Inc. ordination of an LDS woman to the office of elder an even 200 years later would be fitting and feasible. Let’s work for it! Direct action and Satyagraha Direct action has a fine tradition ( You behave as though the organization had already implemented the reforms you demand. Take the example of the sit-in demonstrations. Black people should be able to sit at the counter along with white people, so what does the savvy activist do? She sits at the bloody counter is what she does! It's a simple act, but one that takes incredible courage and often personal cost.

Similarly, MoFem activism stands to gain from employing Satyagraha 121 (sah-tey-grah-ha)” The term originated in a competition in the news-sheet Indian Opinion in South Africa in 1906[5]. It was an adaptation by Gandhi as one of the entries in that competition. "Satyagraha" is a Tatpuruṣa compound of the Sanskrit words satya (meaning "truth") and Agraha ("insistence", or "holding firmly to"). For Gandhi, satyagraha went far beyond mere "passive resistance" and became strength in practising non -violent methods. In his words:

120 121

I’m measuring from the Bill of Rights rather than the Big C of ‘88 117

Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non violence, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance”, in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word “satyagraha” itself or some other equivalent English phrase.[6] Can we employ a force born of Truth and Love, an opposition to sexism and heterosexism that is firm and powerful, yet bereft of malice? If so, what does that force look like? Where are our marches? Our campaigns of benevolent disobedience? Our acts of resistance? Now’s the time For sacred disobedience to be effective, there must be a supportive zeitgeist. If there weren’t a lot of Americans appalled by racial segregation in the South, the sit-ins would not have been nearly as effective.


Note the white people who suffered alongside: female MoFem's might similarly welcome the participation and voice of male MoFem's in the movement

(1) America is a very gender-equality place now, though, and (2) the media has thoroughly penetrated into the religious realm. These two ingredients make this and succeeding decades ripe f or LDS sacred disobedience on the governance equality score. It’s great to be on the right side of history! Think of how proud your kids and grandkids will be - kind of like you are now of your parents or grandparents that actively promoted social justice during the civil rights movement.
122 123

I’ll admit this picture gets me a little teary. Yep, I need to take a cry break, be back in a few Unfortunately, many male MoFems find themselves blacklisted sexlisted in MoFem circles, where self-appointed woman elites politely inform them, “we don’t need you and your mansplainy tubercle.” I hope we can overcome that us-them exclusivity, we’re all just imperfect people and we’re in this together.


Let me share an experience from the summer of 2006 that illustrates why I feel comfortable engaging in LDS sacred disobedience. I worked as a counselor for EFY, and one day consented to chaperone a small group o f young men participants so they could run painfully early the next morning. I was inspired with the idea to use the run as a teaching opportunity- I plotted a route that went right by the Provo temple, planning to sit down for a special, brief temple devotional halfway through our run. I borrowed my friend’s small-print quad to carry during the run, and went to bed.

Not the actual boys, but you get the idea

The next morning we followed our plan, but the grounds were closed off because of the early hour. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to get as close to the temple as possible for the special message I had prepared . That’s when I saw a sizable space underneath the swinging front gate, which would be easy to slide underneath. After a little internal debate I decide to go for it. About half of us were through before the elderly, gruff groundskeeper came huffing down the walk to gesticulate angrily and berate us without giving a chance to get a word in edgewise. Wishing I could shelter my charges from his violent condemnations, I assembled us to leave as he continued his tirade, and eventually we left as he continued shouting. Initially, I felt embarrassed about my decision. However, I am no longer ashamed. If there are gates that keep me distanced from the God of equality, I choose to go under, over, or around those gates, let the gro undskeepers bray as they will.


6. Why 2012 is the year to act, plus some tangible activism proposals

There's been a lot of talk lately about the Mormon Moment. The Book of Mormon Musical, Prop 8, and Mitt Romney's candidacy have all helped catapult Mormonism into the media spotlight.

So why isn’t that spotlight exposing feminist issues? We have got to get people talking about Mormon sexism. I'm not lettered enough in the Mormon feminist literature to comment overmuch on how the movement should be branded, but I am convinced that the LDS community doesn't care or talk enough about governance equality. There’s a serious visibility problem. I affirm the three-word remedy proposed by many LDS women: controversy, controversy, controversy. We need to generate controversy, because controversy generates discussion (do Bottgate, BYU Skinny Jeans, the September Six, and Packer’s October 2010 address ring any bells?). Discussion in turn elicits thoughtful consideration, and thoughtful consideration inches us, as a community, closer to truth, justice, and American pie. Well, at least the first two. Ordaining women Imagine for a moment that we accidentally ordained a woman an elder. (Given the deep flaws of the Outward Appearance TestTM, this has certainly happened at a least a handful of times in our history, no matter how you slice the pie). Now, did the world stop turning? Would it, if we ordained women regularly? 120

By ordaining women, we put the ball in Elohim’s court. If She’s sexist, the ordination won’t “stick,” and theoretically no one should be disciplined (no harm, no foul, right?). If He’s not sexist, then the Holy Spirit of Promise will rati fy the ordination and no one should complain. I’ve been pushing for ordaining women (to the office of Elder to start) for a while now. Here’s an excerpt from one of those exchanges: “As I have argued before and continue to maintain, categorizing God's children as male or female based on their anatomy is unsustainable and undesirable ( Separate but equal institutions sometimes have a role to play in the evolution of equality, but cannot support its final expression. The category itself must be eliminated. Though women do possess already the authority to govern, they must express that power for it to be meaningful. It would do little in the struggle for equality for Jackie Robinson to state that he has the authority to play baseball, then continue to compete in the Negro Leagues. He expressed his power by playing in the Major Leagues. By doing so, he led a movement which accomplished two ends. (1), it transformed the major leagues into a colorful rather than uni-color institution. (2), the movement he led resulted in the destruction of the Negro League, a fact too often forgotten. In essence, both former leagues were destroyed, replaced by a single inclusive institution. To express their power, Mormon women could beef up a separate but equal Negro League- but to do so is instrumental at best. There is only one governance power, and it is polygendered. There is only one voting power, and it is polygendered. There is not a male authority separate from a female one. LDS communities equate governance power with "priesthood"- a priesthood which has yet to be popularly and properly recognized as blind to the man-made constructs of sex and gender. The moment the Major Leagues began integrating with African descended players, integration ceased to be an instance of black people requesting and receiving power from white people. Instead, it became an acknowledgment of the irrelevance of race to playing baseball. The irrelevance of gender to governance is just as clear. Yes, women could cleave to their feminine identity and build their own League, which might help women thrive for a time. The first Negro league, the National Colored Base Ball League, failed in 1887 after just two weeks, due to low attendance. The LDS zeitgeist, by comparison, is metaphorically far beyond 1887. The final expression of equality lends itself, in my view, to a 2012 LDS Jackie Robinson.” This particular piece of precedent is particularly pregnant with philosophical potency, as it challenges in a stroke (1) LDS sexist governance, (2) the source of governance authority (common consent v. elsewhere), and (3) the ability of the gerontocracy to retain a patriarchal grip over its members in an age where the rising generation’s zeitgeist is one of information access, empowerment, and a milieu of secular equality. Like the Salt March, this act strikes at the moral legitimacy of an authoritarian regime- in this case, for excluding women from high-level decision making.


Jackie Robinson

Woman don't need to get power from a man. However, this act is needed because ordination is the process recognized in our community for transferring governance power. Eventually there needs to be a Brooklyn Dodgers who debuts Jackie Robinson- after that pioneer breaches the gender line, like destroying white-only baseball, the office of elder begins to lose its male-only stigma. Though we’d be punished and marginalized, it would jumpstart the dialogue, producing questions like, “well, why not? What’s so wrong about a woman holding governance authority?” It would set a precedent for what will eventually prove normal (the reason it’s radical rather than routine is not the act itself, but merely the fact that it’s 2012, not 2212). It allows both participants a voice and a forum- make no mistake, journalists will interview the participants, and their answers will be heard by many people. This act would shine a lot of light on the plight of Mormon feminism in 2012. Romney + Book of Mormon Musical + Prop 8 + Social Media = the Mormon Moment, which with an uptick in activism like this could evolve into the Mormon Spring. “There is a critical mass of people who want to stay identified with the faith and want it to be better. It’s a significant shift.” -Joanna Brooks124 It also holds symbolic value by signaling to future LDS leaders (not so much the current ones -- I think they’re a lost cause) that LDS members, especially my Millenial generation, are not satisfied to watch and clap while the institution takes baby steps. We are willing to pay a high price for the reforms (sexism and heterosexism for starters) we demand, and will not wait around endlessly to observe them. Plus, why would trying to empower women be a serious transgression? Integration is a simple, elegant solution to the governance equality gap. The little people can model for LDS Inc. what they should do. Some would argue that a current Elder lacks the authority to ordain a woman, since the ordainor would likely lack the (a) stake priesthood meeting, (b) Bishop, and (c) Stake President approvals mandated in the Agent-Smiths-only manual (16.7.1). However, as the manual itself states, 125 canon trumps the manual, and scripture says: [It is]The duty of the elders... to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons" (D&C 20:39)

Qtd. in Jack Healy, Gentle Dissent in Mormon Church on Gay Marriage. Published: June 11, 2012 125 See appendix B for in-depth analysis


The priesthood was restored before the ChurchTM was organized. Priesthood never has been nor indeed could be controlled by a temporary institution. It is a power that transcends corporate contours. President Packer taught in June 2012: The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing. It has been so since the beginning. Regardless of what they may assume or imply or infer from anything which has been said or written, past or present, specific ordination to an office in the priesthood is the way, and the only way, it has been or is now conferred 126. Exactly. I don’t get my garments all up in a wad for breaking the rules of a company that does business as Brigham Creek Dairy. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s 127 . Intellectual Reserve Inc. owns the copyright to the manual, let them prosecute me for breaching corporate protocol.

“Whose [is] this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” 128

There was no corporate manual when Jesus or Joseph first ordained apostles. I and many other Elders feel it our duty to ordain other elders, including women, that they may possess the prerequisite recognized in our community for sitting at the Big Table- Melchizedek priesthood office.

LDS Inc. p romulgates corporate policies such as persecuting transsexuals, excommunicating same-sex couples, and forbidding the

empowerment of women via inclusion in corporate governance. I have zero reservations ab out holding a corporation accountable for policies like this. 128 Matthew 22:20-21



Ordaining a woman sounds radical, but really the only difference between radical and routine is usually about 200 years. One’s childship to God matters more than whether you’ve gone to the effort of growing a vagina. I know of several “under the table” ordinations of LDS women, including one incident that took place at a home in SLC in 2011, where several LDS elders ordained a few LDS women. It’s happened, and it will happen more often and more visibly in coming years and decades. It’s really not that hard- the Elder lays hands on the head and says, "Sonia Johnson, by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, I confer upon you the Melchizedek Priesthood, and ordain you to the office of Elder, and bestow all the rights, powers, and authority of that office, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." That's it! Now there’s a lot more to the back-and-forth over whether ordaining women is a good idea. Not everyone is interested in this particular initiative, though, so I’ve nested the bulk of the debate in Appendix B. Go check it out.


Wait just a second- does that ordainor have uncorrelatedly long, womanly hair and a not-at-BYU beard? Shameful on both scores...


Suggested acts

Let me now suggest eight candidate sacred disobedience campaigns 130 as starting points. And in case you didn’t pick it up from the temple language I’ve used throughout, remember: the point of sacred disobedience is to create controversy through leveraging potent symbols. To create controversy through leveraging potent symbols. 1. 30 minutes before the meeting, on whichever Sunday is closest to December 1 st (this year it’s Sunday December 2nd), grab one or two of your fellow feminists, or just yourself. Walk up to the stand and sit in the seats where the bishopric usually sits, and refuse to leave (at least until Sacrament Meeting concludes). If you can control your muscle movements, then you have the power to do this. As Rosa Parks demonstrated on December 1st 1955, you can literally refuse to stand for one more small injustice. Make sure to video record the event (smartphone will do) and audio record subsequent conversations with leaders, if they occur. This campaign can be repeated annually, and I think it rocks. 2. Choose to be the ordainee or ordainor in the coordinated August 18th ordination (this year it’s on a Saturday). Arrange a time and place, and connect with others across the country who will ordain on that day. Record it on HD camera, and that night have every ordaining couple upload to a YouTube channel (say, governance equality). You might also ordain another woman after you’re ordained an Elder. This campaign can also be performed annually. August 18th 1920 was the date the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing suffrage to


Obviously, these ideas aren’t all mine- I’ve read about them here and there, and have listed the ones that stuck with me though I don’t remember exactly where I heard each


women nationwide. Likely excommunication would be in September, so you’d be among esteemed company 131 . 2012 is an especially potent year because of the Presidential election and Mitt, so prepare now! 3. Pray to and talk about Heavenly Mother in and out of church. If we take our theology seriousl y, we’ve got to bring Her out of obscurity! 4. Regularly give mother’s blessings to your children by the laying on of hands. Participate in your baby’s blessing walk the babe to the front and refuse to let go. Bless the sick by the laying on of hands (Mormon 9:24 says “they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”, and refers to “them that believe” without any reference to male priesthood office). 5. Strike. On the he Sunday that falls closest to March 17th (on that day in 1842 the Relief Society was organized), refuse to perform your calling, whatever it is. Sit outside the building if you have to. The next window is Sunday, March 17th, 2013. Annual campaign. 6. Participate publicly and powerfully in the new push to ratify the ERA, including some use of Church billboards and buildings (to make up for last time). 7. Refuse to veil your face in the temple. Do this with other sisters for solidarity. They can either go on, or they can stop the ceremony entirely, the ball’s in their court. If you control your muscles you can do this. 8. Show up to a building to attend Saturday night priesthood meeting during General Conference. There should never be a church-wide meeting with God’s leadership authority, unless women are full-fledged participants.

Campaign #1- pull a Rosa Parks. Refuse to stand for one more injustice and SIT DOWN

Males can only participate in a subset of the above. Let men know the date and time, though, and I believe many will do what’s needed to join you! To the extent that men are comparatively institutionally empowered, they are especially obligated to engage in vigorously stamping out the ugly specter of governance inequality their in/actions endorse. Regarding the coordinated August ordination, I personally am up for it, but I won’t participate unless we have at least 6 solid pairs committed to the date. I think that particular campaign will only be worth the price if it’s a broader effort.


I.e. the September Six, a singularly cool crowd by my measure, having met several


Why not stick with “soft” tactics?

Trinity: Neo... nobody has ever done this before. Neo: I know. That's why it's going to work.

Playing nice is a good thing, and maybe it's because I work as an attorney, but sometimes you've just got to be insistent and demand exactly what you want. (My post-divorce friends often say the same thing). Importantly, you have to be prepared to let the hammer fall if the opponent does nothing. The gerontocracy has had too long to fix this problem and is still sitting on their unerringly male hands. If you're like me and can't stand this particular status quo, then I invite you to “Annie Get Your Gun.” Have you ever heard of something like this being done in the church? Neither have I, and that's exactly why it will work. When you go into battle, you have to know your enemy. It's not individuals we’re fighting against, it is “principalities and powers;” specifically, a harmful institutional policy. Thus, we must customize our approach to tactics that are proven to accelerate the reform of conservative institutions. The more minds that are persuaded 132, the quicker the evil fruits are discarded. But you can't convince a mind to change on an issue it isn't contemplating. We have to catapult our tradition's "philosophy of anatomy, mingled with scripture" onto the mass consciousness radar. Then, the merits of the case will speak for themselves.


And I argue that the more important minds to persuade are those of the lay members, especially women, despite the predilection to try and chisel into the hard skulls of the patriarchal elite


"Alone a symbol is meaningless. But with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world."

We need to help the gerontocracy out, they’re old and tired and overburdened and few. I'm convinced that we, the institutionally impotent, have got to depart our comfort zones and rock this Mormon boat, or it may not change course for many decades. I don't want that boat capsized- I just seek an overdue course correction. Join me!! Prepare for the consequences Last, and I hope it goes without saying, you have to be prepared for the serious and negative long-term relational and spiritual consequences of your act. Rosa Parks lost her job, as did her husband. Our Catholic counterparts are not well treated either. Recently, the Vatican chastised the largest US organization of Catholic nuns for their support of ordination for women, contraception, and LGBT rights:

Their struggle seems painfully familiar:


It is tough to come back into the church after excommunication- it’s an intense and tortuous process that requires a lot of groveling133 , and as convinced as you may to the contrary be right now, at some point in your future you may want to be on the records. That little digital space on COB’s server can deliver real-world benefits, such as family acceptance or personal fulfillment. Those who hop on this Abinadi train must be ready to take a serious fall. I would really rather protect and preserve my membership status personally, but I’ve also got to be able to look myself and my kids in the eyes th irty years from now and tell them where I stood on marriage and governance equality. Whatever your justification is, make sure it’s a good one and that your eyes are wide open.


Based on the ex-ex-Mormons I’ve talked to.


7. Why I Believe
We’ve had the opening song and prayer, so it’s now time for me to bear my heterodox testimony.  I’m aware many will find my testimony wanting (especially in the “praise Joseph” middle finger category) and point out what they perceive as its flaws. I’m trying to evolve toward exaltation though, and I do not fear to share where I currently am on my faith journey- judge it as you will.

Choose your own caption! A) The five pillars of Mormonism B) Kristen Oaks: you can sell anything in this world with the right last name C) Creepy

Why I care about this issue Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. –Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail Sometimes folks ask me why I care about feminism since I’m not a woman. The answer is simple and sufficient: I’m Christian. We’re all equally human.


It’s the same reason that I advocate for marriage equality even though I’m straight. I put myself in the shoes of a young single black lesbian134 and I don’t like the options I see, so I try to treat her the way I would like to be treated in her position. Turns out, the golden rule is still a potent ethical tool for humanists. My life goal is to become civilized: Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term 'we' or 'us' and at the same time decreases those labeled 'you' or 'them' until that category has no one left in it.

-Howard Winters135
If that weren’t enough, though, I have a personal family connection to this issue. This story makes me tear up about every time I tell it: I am alive today because of a laying-on-of-hands blessing my gggrandma gave her son, my ggrandfather. As a child, my ggrandfather caught pneumonia and got very sick. The doctor came over one day upon urgent request about the child's nonresponsiveness. He tested my ggrandfather for signs of life, found none, and pronounced him dead. When he left, my convert gggrandma gave him a blessing and refused to give up on him, rubbing his body throughout the night and placing him as near the stove as she dared for warmth. My gggrandfather refused to intervene, leaving the child’s fate to the Lord’s will alone. In the morning, afte r my gggrandmother’s labors and faith, he was alive. He was alive. No one can tell me that women can't channel God's power- my very body is living proof to the contrary. Why I stay Like Joanna Brooks, I have a love affair with this church and its people (though as you’ve seen, I’m disinclined to ignore the flaws of LDS Inc.). I’m Edward and Mormonism is my Bella! I’m a participant in Mormon Stories, Mormon Democrats, Mormon Transhumanist Society, Feminist Mormon Housewives, Sunstone, and the list goes on and on- about anything with “Mormon” in the title. I come from a large extended orthodox family going back 6-7 generations on either side (including current/recent bishops, stake presidents, a general authority, etc.). I went to BYU for 8 years, was a veil worker in the temple, Assistant on my mission in Sacramento, Coordinator for EFY, etc. - I am and will always be, Mormon. This is the faith tradition of my fathers, and it is my faith- I claim it. I’m active and hold a current temple recommend that I use (some of the ideas in this work came to me during an endowment session in the Mesa temple in May 2012). I've never touched coffee, I go to church, and I believe in the principles of Mormonism. As one friend said to me recently, "Mormonism oozes from you r pores136 ." It would have been easy for me to exit- after all I'm right in the center of the Terrible Trifecta Prez. Packer described (I'm a feminist, intellectual, and I'm pro-gay). I could have walked away from this tradition years ago like two of my siblings did- I'm here because I choose to be. I recently posted on Facebook: “I am a Mormon! I claim this identity. I plan to maintain it throughout my life. To me, the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism are pursuing truth, friendship, and relief ( and it is to those three pillars that I cleave. Regardless of my participation in the LDS church, I am also a transhumanist ( Through the ethical use
134 135

I love this category- as opposite from God (old, white, male, straight, married) as you can get As quoted by Anne-Marie Cantwell, in "Howard Dalton Winters: In Memoriam." Unpublished paper, Midwest Archaeological Conference, Lexington, KY. 1994 136 My roommate described me this morning (June 3) as a “super-Mormon, ” whatever that means


of technology, I seek to bring to pass the religious myths I find most valuable- resurrection, immortality, and Zion, or atone-ment. Now _that_ is a religion that excites me- a future that's (1) not guaranteed, (2) feasible, and (3) worth fighting for! A vision that doesn't rely on patriarchy, heterosexism, or dubious epistemology. An organic destiny that I can yet shape. Hear me, oh Mormons and post-Mormanity- I hereby embrace phase two of my Mormon life!” Regardless of what happens to me as far as activism and church discipline, you will find me a month later sitting in church, taking the sacrament, and singing the hymns.

And you're welcome to rip this from my cold, dead fingers

Mormonism has so much to offer, and the FTB [Follow The Brethren TM] meme is not its most valuable product. My LDS Church’s biggest cash value crop, in my view, is instead the doctrine of theosis. The idea that we can and should become like what we imagine God- benevolent, immortal, ethical, potent, creative, unselfish, intelligent- that is an idea we can truly actualize by believing and pursuing it. Willing to bear one another’s burdens 137 The second biggest cash value crop is the ward. When I attend a family ward, I like to look at the awkward teenagers and see how the Church wraps arms of belonging, purpose, and support around them. Children and parents are two demographics that are especially supported. As much as I hate to be a ble eding heart about bureaucracy 138, I think LDS Inc. offers a very valuable product: the local unit. Though not a governance guru by any stretch, I do see great value in the way participation is structured at the local unit. They are often sized to nearly the exact measure of our effective social network (no matter how many Facebook friends you have, you’ll probably have about 150 you could count on for a favor/ interact with regularly - about the same size as the active membership of a ward). I would be unsurprised to l earn that this size is comparable to the size of tribes that we spent much of our evolutionary past in.
137 138

Mosiah 18:8 You’ll have to forgive my love poem to structure- I’m a Master of Public Administration graduate of the Romney Institute of Public Management, which seeks to be a touchstone of guidance on governance, and I tend to think in these terms


You are expected to pitch in, and in exchange you are privileged to ask for help from the community. It’s like a supersized family, just right-sized enough (thank you, Goldilocks) to make you annoyed sometimes dealing with people you wouldn’t freely choose, and grateful and integrated for much of the rest. Communities need the rules, roles, structures, and schedules wards proffer. Falling through the cracks happens less than in many comparable traditions, and children and parents especially receive a lot of structured sheparding. Like in functioning families, members covenant to and fulfill the caretaking role- they attend to the needs of each other. To the extent they cause and sustain this result, I take my hat off to LDS Inc. Also, I actually value the up-in-your-business approach of Mormonism. We have checkpoints of inclusion, such as temple recommend interviews and tithing declaration; we have home and visiting teaching, which serves as a teaching model for how we should be taking care of each other (even if, like in our families, we don’t always express that model as we should). In some other traditions, the come-and-go-as-you-please model results in the painful conclusion that “we could care less whether you participate.” Community requires at least a measure of pushiness, and at our best that pushiness is the loving invitation and gentle watchcare and kin creation the Savior emulated. Jesus didn’t wave at the house from the street for a few seconds before passing on- he went right up to the door and firmly knocked. Until we evolve to the point that we can truly treat a stranger as a sibling, we need tribes: and Mormonism delivers. I think the social capital generated by the Church is even greater than its financial assets. The ward unit is simply genius.

It takes scaffolding to construct a building: it takes structure to construct a community

Now, I acknowledge that some classes are marginalized in our tradition (the disaffected, gays, divorcees, single sisters, etc.), but as regrettable as those are, the list is a limited and shrinking one. We demarginalized a particular racial minority recently, and we can demarginalize more classes as well. We need not drift toward becoming a country club for straight couples. The gospel of Jesus Christ is broad enough for, dare I suggest it, all classes of people. As a religion, I believe we LDS can live up to that gospel. We can strengthen Zion’s stakes and enlarge its borders without losing our distinctive identity. 133

Would we not prefer our “peculiar people” features to be service and theosis, rather than sexism and heterosexism?


Haven’t we more to offer investigators that is of good report and praiseworthy, besides the fervency of our claims to authority? Faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost have no tubercle length requirement. Building community and loving our neighbor140 are blind to Gender Judgments TM.

Service knows no gender

139 140 You can watch this tear-jerker (it’s beautiful) at


Yes, we need to make low-hanging fruit reforms (i.e. these twin terrors, heterosexism and sexism, which both grow from the baseless gendered theology that steals more value from our tradition than it adds). Zion cannot abide these ugly obstacles to beauty and equality. Let's prune the wild fruit and cultivate the natural fruit! There is a lot of virtuous, lovely, and natural fruit worth cultivating. But hey, that's just one vote - and I am interested in and invite the other voices in this Mormon community that I love.

Activism Résumé Now that I’ve shared why I believe, I feel I should also disclose some of the expressions of that testimony over the last couple years. Plus, I want to ease the job of the SCMC ( 141 staff assigned to me- my file is getting fat and unwieldy these days.


“The Strengthening Church Members Committee (SCMC) is a committee of general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) who monitor the publications of church members for possible criticism of local and general leaders of the church. If criticism is found, the committee may forward information to local church authorities, who may bring charges of apostasy, which can result in excommunication… [SCMC] was mentioned during the 2004 church discipline of Grant H. Palmer in which it reportedly sent a dossier on Palmer to his stake president.”


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.

Shared an updated version of my book, Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student's Perspective (sold out at Benchmark Books, Sam Weller's Bookstore, and BYU Bookstore) Spoke at Affirmation's April post-general-conference meeting in SLC Delivered a pro same-sex marriage address at the conservative academic conference, Strengthening the Family Presented Why Mormonism Can Abide Gay Marriage at the Sunstone symposium Wrote two analyses of church discipline- Church Discipline: Unveiled and Differences between "Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops 2010" and 'Handbook 2: Administering the Church" Authored a guest post, Can Mormonism Make a Place for Same-Sex Marriage? Guest Blogger Brad Carmack Says Yes, on Jana Reiss's Flunk ing Sainthood blog Was featured on the cover of Qsaltlak e Was profiled by Utah Common Values Delivered the keynote at the annual Affirmation banquet (held in 2011 in Cleveland and the Kirtland temple) Advocated involvement in nonprofit groups as part of a panel on the Mormon Channel Interviewed with J. Seth Anderson on Qtalk Arizona about my book Interviewed with Eric Ethington on PRIDEinUtah about my book Manned the PFLAG booth at the SLC Pride Parade, summer 2011 Spoke on Sunstone panel re: LDS life in the "Borderlands," also in Sunstone Magazine article (page 76) Published an op-ed in the Salt Lak e Tribune, Time for same-sex LDS marriages Was highlighted in the Advocate: Mormon Lawyer: Church Should Embrace Marriage Equality Guest posted Mormonism Beyond the Gender Binary on Feminist Mormon Housewives Was written about in the Salt Lak e Tribune in an article entitled Mormon Pragmatism Wrote Reflections of a Mormon feminist: the role of women and men in and out of the church on Feminist Mormon Housewives Was discussed in The L Magazine: A Change of Heart on Gay Marriage From a Mormon Former Anti-Gay Rights Campaigner Added my straight ally voice to the "Mormon Family and Friends" video campaign ("It Gets Better" style) in a solo clip Was targeted in a same-sex reproduction article by Red Mass Group: Mormonism Beyond the Gender Binary Spoke about sexual orientation science at the opening event for PFLAG Utah County, summer 2011 Shared a video activism series at my YouTube channel Featured in "It is time for same-sex marriage in the LDS Church," Moxie Magazine (Issue 2, first article) Presented Mormonism Beyond the Gender Binary at the Mormon Transhumanist Association Conference


I believe in Zion- that through work and love of self and each other, we can become a unified and exalted community. I am committed to donating all the time and talents I’ve been blessed with to its construction.


Appendix A: Sex Determination
Sex Determination
*I have found it useful during this research to look up brief summaries of unfamiliar topics or terms in Wikipedia - the reader might
consider a similar practice.

What makes a man a man and a woman a woman? What is the causation of physical sex? What is physical sex? The answers to these questions are neither simple nor straightforward- but parts of those answers are well understood, so we’ll start there. There are two common ways of causing/determining sex in the biological world: 1) nongenetic factors (such as environmental temperature) and 2) genetic factors. Humans fall into the latter category, based on the genotype of chromosome 23: XY individuals are male and XX are female. This genetic difference causes a number of measurably different phenotypes (physical traits)- different shaped faces, different genitalia, different brains, different hands, different hematocrit (red blood cell count), different muscle mass, and different hormone profiles to name just a few. All right, nothing new here so far. How does the genotype difference translate into these phenotypes? Here the answer begins to get more complex. The default phenotype in humans is female. For a short period after an egg is fertilized, the zygote is bipotential, meaning it can become either a male or a female, and has both Mullerian ducts (precursors to the uterus and fallopian tubes) and Wolffian ducts (precursors to the prostate and seminal vesicles). A simplified, two-step explanation of how the default female embryo is converted into a male: Step 1: the SRY (Sex-determining Region Y) gene from the Y chromosome is translated into a protein known as TDF (Testis Determining Factor). Step 2: TDF causes a consequence cascade, which in concert with hormones causes the phenotypic differences observed between males and females. Now, as you might imagine, things can go wrong at a number of points during this process. In Step 1, the SRY gene could be broken or missing- this results in XY, or X_ persons that are phenotypically female (Turner syndrome). The SRY gene could be translocated to an X, resulting in an XX person that’s phenotypically male (XX male syndrome). The SRY gene could be faulty, resulting in an XY phenotypic female (Swyer syndrome). This is just the beginning, though, as these abnormalities result only from Step 1 problems. Step 2 problems are even messier. Step 2 problems also demonstrate why genes are not the whole story when it comes to sex determination. Before I illustrate some Step 2 problems, let me describe epigenetics by comparing the endocrine system to a football team. (note to geneticists- I recognize that epigenetics usually refers to genetic imprinting and


methylation. Here I follow Robin Holliday’s precedent142 in using the term more broadly- in this case to refer to regulation of gene expression and other downstream effects caused by hormones). Epigenetics “The construction of a building is as important as the blueprint.” -Our Stolen Future, page 204 Hormones (such as the androgen testosterone) are like footballs; hormone-producing glands such as the adrenal gland are like the quarterbacks that throw the footballs; and wide receivers are the hormone receptors- proteins embedded in cell membranes or cytoplasm which “catch” the football and pass its signal down into the cell. After being caught, the hormone football then degrades. The football’s signal exerts influence upon (epi) the genetic (genetic= hence, epigenetics) expression of the cell. The most typical cellular responses to catching the football are to up- or downregulate gene expression: meaning that the number of proteins the cell translates from a particular gene goes either up or down. If there are too many or too few received footballs, disaster can occur (e.g. testes won’t develop). Okay, so we’ve got the basics of the endocrine system- what next? Without the activity of the endocrine system, especially of androgens, an embryo cannot become phenotypically male. For instance, for a short time embryos have a pair of partially developed organs that if left to themselves will turn into ovaries. If acted on by “downstream” elements from TDF, however, the gonads will become testes. Similarly, many typically male phenotypes are dependent, not only on genes, but upon precise dosages and timing of specific hormones. Though the causes of fetal hormone variance are not substantially understood, their role in sex determination is. For emphasis, I’ll repeat the bottom line: sex determination is not merely genetic; it relies necessarily on the endocrine system. Now for why this matters. I noted above that Colborn’s book argued that some industrial chemicals are affecting human fertility and sex determination. The reason? The industrial chemicals do what some plants have been doing for millennia: they manipulate the human endocrine system to decrease human fertility (the evolutionist might argue that so doing results in less predation of the plant over time). The most common ways chemicals disrupt the endocrine system:     They block the ball (for instance, by binding to or disfiguring the hormones) They hold the receiver (by binding to the receivers’ hands so there’s no room for hormones) They throw their own football-like balls into the air (known as hormone mimics) They tackle the quarterback (block the glands from producing or releasing hormones)

These endocrine disrupting effects often take place entirely independent of genes or gene expression. Because some wide receivers will catch about anything that’s lofted to them, the mimics oftentimes don’t even need to bear a resemblance to an actual football- even a lampshade sometimes does the trick. To complicate matters, hormone mimics and defensive linemen tend to stick around, rather than degrading like good little footballs do after they’re caught- thus, they can go through the cycle again and again.

Holliday, R., 1990. Mechanisms for the control of gene activity during development. Biol. Rev. Cambr. Philos. Soc. 65, 431 -471.


The same effects caused by endocrine disrupters can occur if genes coding for hormone receptors are flawed, or if glands don’t produce hormones in the right conformations (shapes) and amounts and at the right times. What kinds of effects do we see in the animal kingdom (including Homo sapiens) when these internally and externally induced Step 2 problems occur?  In the early 70’s, for the first recorded time male-female nesting pairs of western gulls were replaced by same -sex female pairs with extraordinarily large numbers of eggs. The eggshells were thinner than usual, and the next two decades witnessed the spread of this phenomenon from Southern California to the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, and the coast of Massachusetts 143 CAIS (Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) – human beings that are phenotypically female but genetically male. These individuals have gonads inside, but they’re testes instead of ovaries. The genetic maleness of these people usually isn’t noticed until puberty when menstruation fails to start. PAIS (Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome)- the phallic structure varies in every degree between a penis and a clitoris. The genotype is male (XY). Some have a single orifice connected to both the urethra and the vagina. These people span the entire range from predominantly phenotypically female to predominantly phenotypically male. During the 80’s, alligators in the Florida lakes decreased hatching percent from 90% to 18%, and half of the baby gators died within 10 days. Though there was a pesticide spill in their lake in 1980, the effects weren’t witnessed until years later. This is an example of the transgenerational effects of some endocrine disruptors- meaning that you don’t see problems until the fetuses that got the wrong dose at the right time or the right dose at the wrong time reach sexual maturity and have trouble reproducing a generation later144 A review of 61 studies revealed that from 1938 to 1980, human sperm abnormalities are up, sperm counts are down, testicular cancer is up, the incidence of undescended testicles is up, and the incidence of shortened testicles is up145 The sons of female rats given a small dose of dioxin (a hormone mimic) on the fifteenth day of pregnancy, a crucial window in sex determination, had sperm reductions as high as 56% less than their peers whose mom’s hadn’t been given the dioxin (interestingly, rats have ridiculously more sperm than they need, so even a hit of 56% won’t likely affect their fertility. Humans, on the other hand, have just barely enough). Additionally, the sons whose moms were poisoned were much less likely to sexually act like males and much more likely to arch their backs in the typically female response known as lordosis, and allow another male to mount them 146

I could go on, but the other effects follow similar lines, i.e. they confirm that sexual differentiation and reproductive problems result from endocrine disruption. The timing and doses of hormones floating around in the womb during the critical sex determining phases of fetal development are like the small rudders which turn huge ships. Bottom line of this primer on sex determination? Both 1) genes and 2) the intra-organismal environment (i.e. the womb) play a huge role in sex determination.

143 144

Theo Theo 145 Theo 146 Theo

Colborn, Our Stolen Future, Colborn, Our Stolen Future, Colborn, Our Stolen Future, Colborn, Our Stolen Future,

chapter 1. chapter 1. chapter 1. chapter 1.


Appendix B: Female Ordination Debate
In opposition to female ordination:

  

 

"Brad Carmack, would you fear excommunication? I think this sounds like a good idea in general, but the retaliation would be huge. And while sometimes I don't care if the church were to excommunicate me, I'm still a little too shitless to do it." "How dare you assume that you have the right to come charging in on your white horse, after having a feminist awakening--what, 6 months ago?--and do something that will cause a backlash that will undo decades of the patient work of Mormon feminists who are smarter and more politically savvy than you are and who will suffer for your actions while you go blithely on your way believing that you are some sort of feminist martyr? Shut the hell up until you've spent some time reading and learning about the rich history of Mormon feminism and you have something productive to offer, instead of an idiotic publicity stunt that will set the cause back a few decades. I don't have a lot of patience with condescending "help" from Mormon men." "A rogue female "ordination" would cause more problems than it would solve. We have enough work to do in reclaiming the priesthood we already have before attempting to force ordination as an undergrou nd resistance movement. Above-board, grassroots reclamation is my goal." "I agree that in the current environment, the only possible outcome would be a whole pile of excommunications, with the best possible result being that those people would end up in the Community of Christ, or would form their own breakaway sect. I, in my heart, support those priests and bishops in the Roman Catholic Church who have begun ordaining women underground, but it really does not lead to systemic change. It's sad, but it doesn't." "The church wouldn't recognize the woman's priesthood (or yours, for that matter), so what would be the point exactly?" "Rogue ordinations are not going to convert anyone in the existing power structure." "If you believe in a Mormon conception of authority at all, then usurping it in this way completely strips it of its power. If you don't believe in a Mormon conception of authority, then there's really no reason not to simply be ordained in another church " "I simply disagree with this approach. It will alienate more conservative women, demonize feminism, provoke priesthood authorities to speak out against feminists (and intellectuals from the pulpit), cause suspicion towards feminists (like myself) in their own wards, and do nothing to further the equality of women in the church in any practical way. I am sure Brad's intentions are to make life better for women, but this will do the opposite." "It's certainly hard to see results from the kind of dissent I'm suggesting in time scales shorter than ep ochal. But there are results. The RS minutes, a truly revolutionary document, are now published, not because of noisy feminist protest, but because one saintly historian worked for her _entire_ professional career to make it happen, despite being consistently undervalued and underappreciated by both more revolutionary feminists and folks in power. I submit that having those documents available is the sort of thing that will matter over the long haul, far more than anything like ordaining a woman on camera. Nobody remembers the guy who ordained a couple of black men in 1971(ish?), but Lester Bush's careful, patient (kinda boring) scholarship (along with other factors) made it possible to conceptualize a face -saving way to rescind the ban." "I think there are those that need to take risks, make big-time stands, speak loudly in unsafe spaces and generally cause a scene. Those actions speak to those who are ready to listen. Then there is the need for more subtle agitation, education, patience and caution. These prepare the listeners. That said, I think Brad's approach is problematic and would ultimately alienate more people's ability to pay attention than those that would." I agree that many of the protests we make will just make people resist us, especially at a ward level where we will be largely outnumbered. "Part of the problem with Brad's proposal is that it fails to recognize the fact that priesthood "power" is only partly conferred by God. It is also constituted in a community, so of course it has to be cul tivated within that community. 141

Which is precisely why a rogue ordination is so incredibly damaging and offensive--it tears at the fabric of community, thereby deligitimizing priesthood power in the very act of "conferring" it." "It seems to me, and I think a persuasive case could be made by looking at historical precedent specifically within the church, that this event would not be an effective way of changing the hearts of those who we'd expect need changing."

In support of female ordination:

"I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. I have done a lot of reading about humanitarian movements, and these kinds of very public acts, accumulating over time and building on each other until they reach a crescendo, seem to be the impetus for change in the long run. Sunlight is the best disinfectant."  When a handful of female ordinations occur, others may be emboldened to ordain women as well. When that tide gets large enough, it will be very difficult to stop.  (regarding the fact that a male would perform the ordination) "the same arguments were made against white people (especially Jews) participating in the civil-rights movement. Isn't a key component of systemic change converting those in the power structure to your cause, a few people at a time, until public opinion shifts in your favor? Where would the gay-rights movement be if only gay people were supporting the cause? The uphill battle of the minority (whatever minority that may be) is always to win the hearts and minds of the bulk of the majority so that, eventually, the opposing opinion becomes the minority opinion itself."  I guess I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this blog, but it seems to me that it would be helpful and intuitive for women to be ordained to Melchizedek priesthood offi ce over and over and over until the message gets through to LDS members and leaders that governance equality is vital. It's hard to ask for martyrs, but when their cause is just and there's enough of them, the oppressive regime loses all semblance of moral legitimacy (compare to the Salt March Once a few women are ordained, both they and other willing men could ordain other willing women. It's gutsy activism, but the potency of the symbols are impossible to ignore- and civil rights movements like this often accelerate when powerful symbolism combines with martyrdom (think MLK & Tyndale and dozens of similar other examples). It can also be an effective long-term strategy; each data point added raises consciousness and forces discussions about LDS sexism. It is an act that can be replicated, and strikes at the heart of the illegitimate exercise of authority by the current patriarchy.  "So Sonia Johnson did not plant an important seed in the Mormon feminist movement? How about the September Six? Are we prepared to say that their agitations (resulting in almost across-the-board excommunications) won't be a net positive in the long run?"  "Sonia Johnson most definitely hurt the Mormon feminist movement, that should be clear." Response: "Not yet, maybe, but we're only a little more than three decades removed from Sonia Johnson's actions. These agitations often plant seeds that take decades upon decades to flower. If the church does open the priesthood to women at some point, and the history of that process is written, you don't think that Sonia Johnson and her peers will be considered to have put this issue front and center? I realize there was a backlash against her, bu t there has never been a human-rights movement that does not include periods of backlash. Those periods, and the people who inspire them, are generally considered to be useful and sometimes even necessary catalysts. Not at the time, of course, but in the end, yes."  "Forget the feminist movement and just think about the fact that it might be meaningful and spiritually powerful for the people involved. How it would benefit the feminist movement? I'm guessing in small ways it would. An ordained woman could give blessings to her children or women give blessings to each other. Or blessings to her husband. I realize some women do this already without ordination. But if she feels as if she's been properly ordained, it would make a bigger difference to her."  "And as far as not needing men to swoop in and help women do what they think they cannot do for themselves, that will make it impossible for women to be ordained at all. Even going through the proper channels, the prophet, a man, would decide to begin female ordination, and at least one man would be required to ordain the first 142

woman. The Mormon conception of authority actually requires us to need men to swoop in and help us do what they think we cannot do for ourselves."  "It is, however, an idea that has played out in every civil rights movement of the 20th century, so Brad is certainly in good company to believe it has some merit."  "There is considerable evidence in contradiction of your statement that "there are no compelling arguments in its favor, no comparable historical analogies to successful reforms within well established, centralized, authoritarian religious institutions effected in a remotely similar manner." In fact, women's ordination in the Episcopal Church began in exactly this manner. "The first women were ordained priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974, though the orders had not been endorsed by General Convention. The so-called Philadelphia 11 were ordained by Bishops Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, Edward R. Welles, assisted by Antonio Ramos.[97] On September 7, 1975, four more women were irregularly ordained by retired Bishop George W. Barrett.[98] The 1976, General Convention, which approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, voted to regularize the 15 forerunners. In 1994, the Convention affirmed that there is value in the theological position that women should not be ordained. In 1997, the Convention affirmed that "the canons regarding the ordination, licensing, and deployment of women are mandatory and that dioceses noncompliant in 1997 shall give status reports on their progress toward full implementation. In 2006, the convention elected Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop. She is the first woman to serve as primate in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is not the only example, but I'll let you research further for yourself."  "Ordination of women is not a worldwide accomplished fact within all the member churches of the Anglican Communion, either, but it has made tremendous progress, and has not destroyed the Communion, as some predicted it would."  You wouldn’t have the authority to ordain without approval of your local leaders. I'm authorized to ordain per the scriptural canon- the church handbook is not doctrine. The introduction to Handbook 1 (2010) reads: "Church leaders seek personal revelation to help them learn and fulfill the duties of their callings. Studying the scriptures and the teachings of the latter-day prophets will help leaders understand and fulfill their duties. The Lord has admonished leaders to treasure up in their minds continually the words of God so they will be receptive to the influence of the Spirit… These instructions can facilitate revelation if they are used to provide an understanding of principles, polici es, and procedures to apply while seeking the guidance of the Spirit." Clearly, the Handbook is not revelation itself if its users are instructed to base their decisions on personal revelation and the scriptures. I have felt inspired to ordain a woman as surely as I have been inspired to do anything, and my study of the scriptures supports the move. The gerontocracy has had decades of opportunity to reverse course and do the right thing and haven't. Church members are just as much a part of the church as its leaders are, and they too have the right to act and receive revelation in relation to it.  You point out that activist power grabs "fail," and that excavating power "works." What do you mean by the terms "fail" and "works?" Looking to comparable movements, women suffrage activists made a power grab and did not fail; they obtained the right to vote. Civil rights leaders engaged a power struggle that escalated into backlash, but they ultimately won the day. Joseph didn't focus on embedded power within a s ystem and excavate it; he also took authority into his own hands. Mormon feminists have been focusing on embedded power for over a century now, and though in many ways their efforts have been fruitful, we still observe the anachronism of a governance equal ity gap the size of the Grand Canyon in contemporary Mormonism. Taking authority into one's own hands suggests that the authority did not reside there previously. Empowered people _discover_ their power; they don't create it. Mormon men already have the authority to ordain LDS women. Mormon women already have the authority to govern the LDS church. Once Mormon feminists (male and female) awaken to this reality, the governance equality movement will, like the civil rights and suffrage movements before it, become inevitable. The patriarchy has no more authority than we grant it. 143

"But isn't that the very nature of civil disobedience, ___? To publicly break an unjust law in a nonviolent way in order to call attention to the discrimination inherent in that law? It's a form of public protest designed to make a dramatic emotional appeal, not so much to the government itself as to the governed, in an attempt to turn public opinion."  "I don't know for sure that this is the way to make that shift happen. However, it is _a_ way to contribute to that shift, and for many reasons I'm convinced that it is a productive one. This act can be replicated and scaled - and if enough people did it, this type of a movement could not be stopped. Once individuals _see_ another group of people doing something, that behavior can become viral- think of the widespread sit-ins of the 60's. That being said, I acknowledge that the endeavor could also be a bust, isolated, and not really go anywhere besides providing a notable data point."  "If the goal is institutional reform, I think the martyrs who will be the most helpful are the ones who find a way to stay in the organization and inspire/change hearts from within, sacrificing as a martyr their ideals maybe." Response: "Working from within is very effective, and a number of my role models take that approach. However, I think the cause of reform will need many approaches- of which radical activism is one. There is no reason why several productive approaches can't be taken simultaneously. I consi der all of those working for reform from within, without, and sideways to be allies."  "I don't believe this would accomplish much. Because to be honest, I don't think the majority of the woman in the church want the priesthood if it was offered to them. I think they want to be treated as equals and have their voices heard, more than to be called Elder." Response: "The majority of women in the church do not seek Melchizedek priesthood office. I'll admit that I'm a little perplexed that more women are not interested in becoming equal participants in the governance authority recognized in our community. In a single stroke, it recognizes gender equality, empowers women, and destroys the unfortunate sexist taint currently attached to priesthood. However, I think I might differ somewhat in that I think being ordained an Elder is a vital step toward being treated as an equal and having voices heard. Our community's governance structure recognizes the authority of governance boards such as the First Presidency, Quorum of the 12, high councils, stake presidencies, and bishoprics. The American community's governance structure recognized the authority of governance boards such as Congress, appellate courts, the President and h is cabinet, etc. Ultimately women had to become members of congress, participants on the president's cabinet, judges in appellate courts, and candidates for President. Integration is an intuitive and effective solution to governance inequality that has succeeded in dozens of comparable communities. "  "I don't think the martyrdom of this sacrificial lamb would scratch the collective mind of the GAs." Response: "You may be right, but that is not the audience targeted by this act. We've got to stop picturing the GA's as being the power brokers and wake up to the reality that the community is where the power rests. I think the current GA's are a lost cause. It is the current and future members of the church that I am speaking to, because they are the ones that have the power. I want to persuade them to include women at all levels of church governance. Church members understand that leaders have no more power than they're given, no more authority than their constituencies choose to recognize. Already, many members are uncomfortable ratifying a governance regime that infantilizes and excludes women. If we can help grow and embolden that portion of the LDS community, either reform will follow, or the authority of Melchizedek priesthood office will simply diminish (a s it does each time a member "votes with their feet" by leaving the church, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the patriarchy in their own lives). LDS members are so much more powerful than they realize."  "I believe in priesthood, but not in the magical way that I perceive most LDS members do. Members of the LDS community acknowledge and recognize Melchizedek priesthood office as the _authority to govern_. Power (specifically, governance authority) derives from the consent of the governed, and from no other place- this is a piece of classical political theory and legal positivism with, I think, a rich and well -supported history. As members of a state, we don't recognize the authority of the state highway patrolman because there is a Great Policeman who decided to share his power with Officer Johnson. We have simply made a communal agreement to subject ourselves to the authority of the courts and law enforcement, and it is that consent that creates the authority. We recognize as valid the extant process for deputizing Officer Johnson, and that enables him to perform his duties with authority. 144

To continue this analogy, most LDS members would not recognize the ordination as valid. Certainly, we wouldn't expect the ordained woman to be called to a bishopric the following week. However, some people would recognize the validity of the ordination. I would submit myself to her authority if she passed the sacrament, or confirmed a baptized convert, or took charge of a meeting, or some other performance associated with the office of elder. I would not be the only one, either- and even if only two members of the community chose to recognize her governance authority, to the extent of two, the ordination "stuck." Joseph's claimed governance authority began quite small, and grew only to that degree that converts recognized it. Legal philosophers refer to this idea as the "rule of recognition." "Why would I want to be ordained to an office by a person that doesn't believe in the sacred authority in which it was given? If the priesthood is god given, having any priesthood holder give it to anyone is not proper use of said priesthood and is a mockery. If you can't find a woman to do this, then why not a dog or a couch? It just seems arbitrary." Response: Several people liked your comment, suggesting that you're not alone in feeling this way. However, I resist the accusation that I don't believe in the sacred authority of the priesthood. I believe in the practical, pragmatic meaning of Melchizedek priesthood office- which in our communities, again, means authority to govern. I believe in the priesthood as much as I believe in the authority of Officer Johnson. It's real, and it matters. I would consider ordaining a woman to a Melchizedek priesthood office to be the most revere nt, sacred, and proper priesthood exercise of my life. I have felt moved to do this, and I feel it is my priesthood duty: "38 The duty of the elders... to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons" (D&C 20:39). A woman is not a dog or a couch. Melchizedek priesthood office, as the recognized governance authority of the LDS community, oppresses, delegitimizes, and excludes women in effect and practice. I view this as a taint to the moral legitimacy of that authority. Refusing to recognize the length of one's sex chromosome or genital tubercle as relevant to exercising governance authority, to me, sanctifies rather than mocks. Integrating produced an uptick in Major League baseball's moral legitimacy. If Elohim approve of the status quo system, including its profoundly negative effects on both women and men, then I'm not very interested in worshiping Elohim. I think that God expects and indeed encourages us as a community and an institution to mature (dare I say evolve) in our moral understanding. "I am 100% in favor of integration. I’m convinced that women MUST take their place at the governance table - and in Mormondom that means Bishoprics, it means the First Presidency, and everything in between. If there’s a governing body of the Church, it should be open to women. The mature adults in a community form the candidate governance pool- not the mature adult men. To do otherwise in my view infantilizes women by treating them as equivalent to children, for which there is good reason for exclusion at the governance table. Because the LDS community associates Melchizedek Priesthood office with governance, I feel women should be ordained to all those offices, including elder, high priest, apostle and, awkward as it sounds, patriarch. In countless comparable institutions, we observe the same pattern- e.g. school desegregation, integration of major and Negro leagues for baseball, marriage, our Restoration movement sibling the Community of Christ, and legislative office. Though separate but equal facilities can be useful (e.g. there is some utility in having civil unions for gay couples, but it is better to include them at the marriage table), they are usually stopping points along the road to full equality. How awkward would it be today if we had “miscegenation unions” instead of marriage, or parallel Negro Leagues in baseball? Equalizing the structure makes HUGE strides because of it’s symbolic teaching power. When we see a woman CEO or a female congressperson, even if, say, only 15% of Congress is female, the progress of the feminist cause is much more than just 15%. This particular piece of precedent is particularly pregnant with philosophical potency, as it challenges in a stroke (1) LDS sexist governance, (2) the source of governance authority (common cons ent v. elsewhere), and (3) the ability of the gerontocracy to retain a patriarchal grip over its members in an age where the rising generation’s zeitgeist is one of information access, empowerment, and a milieu of secular equality. Like the Salt March (, this act strikes at the moral legitimacy of an authoritarian regime- in this case, for excluding women from high-level decision making. Women don't need to get power from a man. However, this particular act is needed because ordination is the process recognized in our community for transferring governance power. Eventually there needs to be a Brooklyn Dodgers who debuts Jackie Robinson- after that pioneer breaches the gender line, like destroying white-only 145

baseball, the office of elder begins to lose its male-only stigma, and ultimately the gender of the ordainer will matter no more than the gender of the ordainee. Though we’d be punished and marginalized, it would jumpstart the dialogue, producing questions like, “well, why not? What’s so wrong about a woman holding governance authority?” it would set a precedent for what will eventually prove normal (the reason it’s radical rather than routine is not the act itself, but merely the fact that it’s 2012, not 2212). It allows both participants a voice and a forum- make no mistake, journalists will interview the participants, and their answers will be heard by many people. This act would shine a lot of light on the pl ight of Mormon feminism in 2012. Romney + Book of Mormon Musical + Prop 8 + Social Media = the Mormon Moment, which with an uptick in activism like this could evolve into the Mormon Spring. It also holds symbolic value by signaling to future LDS leaders (not so much the current ones - I think they’re a lost cause) that LDS members, especially my Millenial generation, are not satisfied to watch and clap while the institution takes baby steps. We are willing to pay a high price for the reforms we demand (sexism and heterosexism for starters), and will not wait around endlessly to observe them. The gerontocracy rules by the consent of the governed; when a critical mass of that LDS governed ignore the illegitimate exercises of power (compare to the sit-in demonstrations of the 60′s) by refusing to follow the proscription against female governance, either reform will follow or the regime will simply diminish. Every big social justice movement requires martyrs- sadly, they are part of the price of change.  Little convo between my friend and I re: ordaining women. Friend: Hi, Brad. Said this in somewhat of a family feud, but I thought of you and your efforts later on. I think it's a somewhat more nuanced, workable approach than "women should have the Priesthood because men do." "Even in the temple endowment we hear "...he shall rule over thee in righteousness." and "...she will obey your law in the Lord", and "I now covenant to obey your law as you obey our Father." This puts the woman in the position of "judge". Of course, this makes her immensely powerful; she can nearly ruin him with her judgment (and some women do). This, obviously, does not add up to Patriarchy, put something of a shared domini on. Unfortunately, this check on authority does not exist in the government of the Church (even if it thankfully exists in our marriages). This is why, perhaps, the Church today is authoritarian, rigid, and even warlike (i.e., they run the Church as if in a state of "spiritual" warfare). Some happen to disagree with me, but we don't need women in the q15. However, we DO NEED an autonomous, albeit complementary, Relief Society. That's how we're taught our marriages ought to be, and that's how the Church ought to be governed." When I was ordained to the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood respectively, I don't believe I received any new power or authority. I understand this is an unorthodox view, but what I mean is that I was merely REMINDED of power and authority I already had. In other words, what I received was a duty to exercise that power and authority; I was being reminded of my (future) role and responsibility as husband and father and leader within the Church. I don't think you can transplant "Priesthood" onto women, because it is too deeply intertwined with notions of being a husband and father. However, I do, like you, believe in "Priestesshood". I believe it is a power and authority that women already hold (but is very misunderstood)--but that it needs to be formally recognized within the Church. I think "Priesthood" reflects the "organizing" principle and "Priesthesshood" reflects the "generative" principle. Priestesshood is already recognized intuitively and practiced to a degree, but it is poorly und erstood and in many ways subverted and suppressed. Formal recognition could, in time, bring deeper aspects of this power and authority to light. That, women need to be reminded of the "Priestesshood" they already hold and have a right to exercise. I think the judicial component is an innate part of Priestesshood, and we simply need acknowledge and uphold it. The judicial component has been suppressed because we exist within a patriarchal structure. Of course that needs to change. Patriarchy is an evil that needs to be overcome. Brad Carmack: I don't advocate beefing up the Negro League. I advocate integration instead.


Though we agree that patriarchy is an evil that needs to be overcome, I don't think relegating the Latinos to judicial functions and the African-Americans to executive ones can suffice. Race-based discriminations turn on one component of an individual's appearance: color. Sex-based discriminations turn on a different component of an individual's appearance: shape. Now, some discriminations on these bases are apropos- for instance, a low-melaninconcentration person should probably use a bit more sunscreen. Neither superficial difference, however, has any relevance to governance allocation. Your proposed scheme necessarily relies on gender essentialism, which we have no ability to discern. Biology breathes bell curves, not binaries. The day you can give me a binary test for sex is the day I'll start asking why your criteria are relevant to disparate governance roles. What is it about a long genital tubercle that equips someone for executive decision making, whereas a short one qualifies someone for judicial? Is there a qualitative difference between that assumption and the age-old "blacks' proper role is servants of servants?"

I reject complementarity as inapplicable, because it relies on a gender binary that we have no evidence exists. Replacing one set of assumptions with another may be more workable, but it's no more warranted. The reason women should be ordained to Melchizedek priesthood office is, instead, _exactly_ as you articulatebecause we ordain men.


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