Onward! Once More into the Breach! (While I Watch from a Safe Distance)

Many years ago, not long after I had first moved to Utah and joined the faculty at Brigham Young University, I was invited by somebody or other to participate in an evening panel discussion at East High School (?) in Salt Lake City on the question of whether women should be given the priesthood.  I was, needless to say, supposed to represent the traditional view of a male-only priesthood.

Now, as then, it’s a question on which — and this may surprise some — I have no really strong opinion.  That is to say, I have no intrinsic objection.  Many women are far more spiritual and decidedly more competent than many men; I can think of no persuasive reason but one why they shouldn’t hold the priesthood.  My only reservation is that I believe that a divine revelation would be required to authorize such ordinations, and that none has been received.  Whether or not one is likely to be received is a separate question.  I don’t think so, but maybe I’m wrong; I don’t believe that God is bound by my expectations.

Anyhow, I ended up attending, but not participating.  I can’t quite remember why.  (I do think it’s awkward for a man to defend a position that seems to privilege men.)  In the meantime, though, I persuaded my friend and colleague Ralph Hancock to take my place.

And, as I sat in the audience — I rode up and back with him — I was very grateful that he was the sacrificial offering, and not I.

The audience was, overwhelmingly, in favor of the ordination of women, and many (indeed, virtually all) who spoke up in the question-and-answer session after the panel was finished were vocally bitter and angry.  Many were visibly emotional in relating stories of real or perceived injustice and oppression at the hands of male priesthood leaders.  Plainly, too, they viewed Ralph as the very embodiment, the personification, of what they saw as the Church’s patriarchal misogyny.

I was more than happy to be sitting silently in the darkness, well back in the auditorium.

So it’s with great pleasure that I now call your attention to yet another sortee on the part of Ralph Hancock that’s bound to draw down upon his head — indeed, already is drawing down upon his head — the wrath of the sort of folks who might otherwise, on any typical day, be aiming at least some of their fire at me:

http://ldsmag.com/church/article/9497?ac=1

http://209.188.95.163/~meridian/society/ideas-and-society/article/9547?ac=1

(For another take on the same topic, see this.)

I’m happy to report that this is at least one more occasion where a fool didn’t rush in where angels fear to tread.

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