Last week a new Episcopalian bishop was ordained here in Utah, with full news coverage from various media outlets such as church-owned KSL:
The Episcopal Diocese of Utah welcomes new bishop at her ordination | KSL.com
I won’t pretend to understand exactly how the order of things work in the Episcopalian church, but I do know this is a pretty big deal (and much higher up in the church ranking wise than a bishop in an LDS ward).
I visited a local Episcopalian church several years ago and talked to the women there about female ordination, which is something they don’t take for granted in Utah. I wrote about my experiences right HERE, and what the Episcopalian women had to say about visiting an LDS baptism and experiencing the shock of the male-only ordinances and complete exclusion of the mothers and all women from the event. To Episcopalian worshipers, it’s very foreign to see women not included in priesthood leadership. To Latter-day Saint worshipers, it’s completely normal and God approved.
The comments on the KSL news article about newly ordained Bishop Phyliss Spiegel’s ordination were exclusively positive, as seen below:
I think it’s great that she’s here in my state, and I wish her all the best luck. I think of my Episcopalian friends I wrote about in the prior blog I linked to above, and I bet they’re thrilled.
I also can’t help but think of comments I heard from people in my state when Ordain Women first came onto the scene almost a decade ago, and people far and wide balked at the idea of a woman being an LDS bishop (again, a much lower profile job in our church). Last month, I actually wrote a blog post about why I think women should be bishops right HERE, and the comments were also mostly all positive – but I think that was because of the generally progressive crowd reading and interacting with my ideas. I would not expect a similar reaction from a typically mainstream LDS group in Utah County, where I live. Instead, I’d expect comments like the ones I pulled off of social media from the year 2015, during heightened discussions about women’s roles in the LDS church and the possibility of women being ordained as priesthood leaders in the LDS church. Here are a few reactions to the mere idea of women acting as priesthood leaders (out of literally a million billion of them) I copied from old Facebook posts:
“Total apostasy. Complete ignorance of the plan of God.”
“I love women’s rights, but in this case, not under these circumstances.”
“I am sitting here literally stunned, stunned that any women could think that this is “OK”, or even a good idea. To feel this way, would confirm you are void of any understanding of the powers or purpose of the Priesthood.”
“When you start to question whether or not women should be allowed to hold it, for me, it’s like second-guessing whether God knows what he’s doing”
“Those women bring to mind the term “useful idiots”. The doctrine is clear and every church member should already have a good understanding of priesthood.”
“the literal meaning of the word Priest is now, always has been and always will be Father. Therefore Priesthood does equal Fatherhood does equal Motherhood. But to have two Priests in a home would be like two Captains on a ship.”
“I pray that this day (author’s note – this means women being ordained) will never come.”
“So where are the children in all of this? Both Mom and Dad serving in bishoprics, stake presidencies etc, working full time…Kids just get to raise themselves? It’s the kids that lose out in all of this… If I held the priesthood I wouldn’t be a better Mom, I would be a far worse one!!”
“you forget the church is directed by the creater himself, who is a man. The priesthood has always been given to men from the very beginning of time… “
“…can a lady be a good Priesthood holder? SURE!!! should she OF COURSE NOT!!! the scripture is clear on this issue and is Church policy.”
“When men quit doing what men are designed to do, and women quit doing what women are designed to do, all that can be left is a society of deviants. Let that sink in.”
“remember, priesthood is the power God uses in creating the universe, God, i mean heavenly father gave the power to His choosen men to act on behave of Him here on earth……. Never in the history of the world has there been a time where women where ordain or given the priesthood….”
“Will giving women the priesthood make things better? … Would leaving the man home with the kids, while the woman spends hours in the bishop office be an improvement?”
My husband has the priesthood , “that’s all I need” I don’t understand why women feel the need to be ordained? I can find no place in the bible where a women has given another women the priesthood ???
“If it was His will for women to hold the priesthood or participate in priesthood ordinances He would make it so.”
“There has been opposition in ALL things since the time of Adam & Eve. Eve, who, by the way did NOT receive the Priesthood when it was given to Adam- I’m guessing there was a reason for that.”
“Dumb women. Shut up and bake bread. And I’m a woman!!!!”
That’s probably more quotes about women as ordained priesthood leaders than I needed to make my point, but there were just so, so, sooooo many of these comments made. I didn’t include ones that were overly angry or insulting (except the last one, from a woman – about baking bread), or included profanity. People were SO MAD about the mere suggestion of women being ordained within the LDS tradition.
But when it’s a woman in a different religion who is ordained – everyone is fine with the scenario. Obviously it’s an impossible comparison, because I can’t get the same commenters from 2015 to give me their reaction at the time to an Episcopalian bishop in 2022, and maybe no Latter-day Saints were commenting on the KSL article that I posted. My realization was just that in general a woman being ordained to a priesthood role in most any other church doesn’t ignite much passion either way. There are some friendly congratulations and warm welcomes, and life goes on. But when we even TALK about an LDS woman being ordained to the priesthood, members of our church want to burn the entire city down. What makes something so easy for our community to accept in one situation, and yet we so vehemently oppose it in the other?
The pictures of Bishop Spiegelman made me smile – especially the one of her with the other Episcopalian church leaders. I LOVED seeing men and women – and a more diverse leadership – coming together to help bring others to God. A more diverse leadership with men AND women at the helm is what the LDS church desperately needs, yet fights against relentlessly.
I also agree that there is a double standard at play here. LDS church members are quick to offer congratulations to women being brought into the priesthood in any other church, but want to throw people – but women in particular – who talk of female ordination in the LDS church under the bus. It really is baffling, especially when female ordination would be such a blessing. I think of the single mothers who can’t give their children blessings, the single women who were left without the sacrament when church meetings shut down during the pandemic, the nursing mothers who are denied the sacrament because the boys passing the sacrament can’t go into the mother’s room, and of all the people who are denied blessings because ordination is male-exclusive.
And was this comment left on your Facebook feed – “Dumb women. Shut up and bake bread. And I’m a woman!!!!” – made by Serena Joy Waterford?
I pulled all the comments off of the Ordain Women Facebook page – I think most came off of one or two of their “event” pages in 2015. It wasn’t from of my own personal Facebook, and I didn’t copy any names- just the comments. I don’t remember who said that one without scrolling through a bunch of comments again. Sorry!
That’s okay! My mistake as well for not catching that those comments were from the Ordain Women page.
If you haven’t read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or seen the TV series… there are women – like the one who made the baking bread comment – who want that kind of life for women today. In the book and TV series, Serena Joy Waterford helped create the environment that oppressed women, yet thought she’d get to be above it all and get to have everything she wanted. Not so.
The “If God wanted women to have the priesthood they would have it” argument is the same argument people gave from 1852 to 1978 about men of black African descent. We now know that was the philosophy of men mingled with scripture. When I was growing up God didn’t want His daughters praying in sacrament meeting. Did He change his mind in the 1980s or was that also a man-made idea? God used to not want his daughters on ward councils. Again, His idea or men’s idea? God did not want his daughters witnessing baptisms or temple sealing? He wanted his daughters to covenant to obey their husbands until 2019. Again, His ideas?
Is God slowly becoming a feminist and little by little seeing his daughters as equal to his sons, or are philosophies of men falling away in a living church?
Sadly, I know a lot of people who can accept the above changes, but for whom the daughters of God holding the priesthood is simply a bridge too far.
How wonderful and what a blessing it would be for the world if the number of priesthood holders was suddenly doubled.
“And I believe that in 1978 God changed His mind about black people.” Sung to the tune of “I am a Mormon” from the Book of Mormon Musical.
Over the course of a decade of blogging at the Exponent, I have noticed that when I write posts about female priesthood holders of other faiths, or female activists of other patriarchal religions who are trying to convince their church leaders to ordain women, these posts are not controversial to Mormon audiences. But when I write about the need for women’s ordination in our church, Mormons swoop in to cry apostasy. It is interesting that Mormons seem to think women’s ordination is fine, but only for other people in other churches.
Interestingly- yes- you went above and beyond to make your point using feedback from 7 years ago- thereby turning a positive read into just another negative rant.
Thanks for posting about this! It makes me happy to see people particularly women worshipping God in ways that aren’t available to me as a Latter Day Saint. I was also feeling particularly depressed reading the comments on the recent BCC article “Setting Apart Our Daughters…” Spoiler- the same garbage from 2015 referenced here is still being said now.
I understand how some women don’t want to be ordained but some do and I know plenty of men who would rather not be ordained. It seems ridiculous that in 2022, we still haven’t figured this out. I’m exhausted by waiting for further restoration on this issue and feel very envious of Episcopalians.
“I understand how some women don’t want to be ordained but some do and I know plenty of men who would rather not be ordained.”
There’s this thing in our church called agency. Wouldn’t it be nice if members were allowed to exercise it in regards to ordination? People could choose for themselves whether or not to be ordained to various priesthood offices, and they could make the decision on when to be ordained at any stage in their lives: no more pressure for those who don’t feel ready for it, and no more excluding those who want to contribute and give more.
Those comments about Ordain Women – ouch!!! I’m happy for Phyllis Spiegel and those who will benefit from her leadership.
The difference is pretty simple, and harkens back to Brother Wilcox’ remarks. If someone is playing at church, it really doesn’t matter the fidelity with which they do it. Thus people can recognize that other people have other traditions and welcome them in the spirit of plurality. However, when we start talking about the actual delegated power of God, you start to get really careful about actually following God’s conditions for exercising his actual power.