Ep 227 – Heavenly Mother and the Lady Priesthood


Posted November 1st, 2015

Will lovely LDS ladies ever hold the priesthood? Have they ever held the priesthood? Is Heavenly Mother real, or just something made up by so-called feminists and lesbians? Who is actually earning Kolob Bucks and who needs to disco closer to that bale of hay?

Scott leads the panel through a smackdown (and a snub-down) of the two most recent essays from LDS.org: Mother in Heaven and Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women. Jake, Erica, Heather, Glenn, and Randy fill out the panel.






  • Dan

    “Have some funky priesthood white boy.” – I don’t know how much time you spend doing these parody songs, but it’s well spent. Ah yeah.

  • Thomas Moore

    The discussion (I think it was Scott) brought up that “Women” was the last part of the essay, according to the title. Well, subliminal messages or not??? on the Church’s newsroom, It starts out: Women, Priesthood, Mother in Heaven http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/new-church-essays-women-priesthood-mother-in-heaven. This is the page for “The World and its press”. Yet, on the “Gospel Topics Essays”, it goes back to the title putting “Women” third and last. https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng
    As a side note; in the Newsroom site, they list 13 essays, yet on the church’s Gospel topics page, there’s 11?!?! The world can know about the “other 2” but the members can’t???

  • articulett

    I LOVED Heather’s song at the beginning– she is just brilliant all round!

  • That was some pretty heavy stuff with Heather and Randy there at the end when Heather posed the question (paraphrasing), “If I wouldn’t subject a gay child to the attitudes and prejudices of the church, should I subject a daughter to them?” And then Randy’s response (again paraphrasing), “If you can’t raise all of your kids in the church, is it a good place for any of them?” Wow. I’d never heard it put like that. I’d never thought about it the way either Heather or Randy put it. And the overall question is extensible to all kinds of religious, cultural and political constructs. I need to let that soak in.

    • Thomas Moore

      I couldn’t have agreed more; and yet, I guess I’m ashamed that I never thought of it that way either. Before, it was, if I adopt a child of color would I want him/her raised in this church. Then it was, If I had a gay child would I want him raised in this church? (Refer to Holland’s ‘Mother’ speech and the SSA [J. Hamer says NO!] missionary) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/behold-thy-mother?lang=eng

      Then I remember this is the year of Malala, please let’s keep this up and not let the dream die. https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1115221681852022/

    • albertinamel

      I loved the frank discussion at the end between Heather and Randy. I actually had the opposite experience. When I found out my second child would be a boy, after already having had a girl, I immediately felt strong misgivings about the pressure he would feel to serve a mission. Sexism serves no child well.

      • Brenda

        Agree. I have 2 boys and it made me really think about how I would deal with the amount of guilt and shame and pressure they would feel as they grow up. It was definitely a catalyst to us leaving the church.

        I dont want them to feel shame for masturbating or feel pressured into serving a mission for 2 years and then coming home and immediately getting married to the first girl that shows interest.

        Youre right… the sexism in the church isn’t good for anyone.

  • AnotherClosetAtheist


  • chicagoinfl

    The Church’s position on women exercising priesthood in the temples is odd. When I got the priesthood as a 12 year-old, it was a big deal that I had a “line of authority’ back to Jesus. This chain of authority was critical because you can’t just decide you want to exercise the priesthood – it has to be conferred on you through physical means. So how is it that women are authorized to use the priesthood in the temple? How did they get the priesthood? I’m sure there is some weasel apologetic answer to this involving strained definitions of words that are esoteric to the Church, but this makes no sense according to their own paradigm.

    • Joshua Wart

      I’ll try my hand at explaining this one:

      Channel the TBM

      Okay, temple “priesthood” is a bit different than
      normal priesthood. All ordinances in the temple are done under the purview of the temple president.

      When the president ordains sealers, veil workers, etc. is actually giving them authority to use his priesthood. In essence, the temple workers are just extensions of the temple president

      This is why workers are only allowed to perform ordinances in their respective temples, because they’re only authorized to act as agents for that specific temple president.

      In this way, women don’t really have the priesthood for
      themselves. The temple president is just allowing them, and the men, to act under his temple umbrella for convenience sake.

      • chicagoinfl

        Good answer. I love the redefinition of priesthood and temporary delegation of authority. Completely unconvincing in a theological or logical sense, but it covers enough bases that if I was a believer I could say: “Okay!”

        • Joshua Wart

          Thanks. I’m not convinced either, but it checks enough boxes that I think most members would be all right with it.

  • Ryan Gregson

    I just wanted to say, I’d gladly wait a week or two for topical episodes of IoT. Some others got the episode out quicker, but they were infinitely more booooorinng. so boring. In short, take your time! but give us lots of content all the time! but don’t burn out!

    • Ryan Gregson

      I want to be clear I’m talking about other podcasters when I say ‘others’ I’m not calling other IoT episodes as soo booring, as I suspect I was possibly referenced on the last promo.

  • “move closer to that bale of hay”
    That shit made me laugh. Only part way through so maybe more later.

  • AnotherClosetAtheist

    Infants – thanks for the reddit verification and for the link. Much love from the forum.

    • Gabriel von Himmel

      Well, defending the mantel of femininity,Heavenly Mother Gonhorra, requires a vigilant gaze.
      The Sisters need to make the bid for leadership both intellectual and spiritual or cast off into friendlier waters.
      Do a google image search for: Heavenly Mother Gonhorra.
      Her mystical powers are a cartoon for the Men’s Caucus For The Women Of The Arts,
      Seems the weaker sex needs some militant, headstrong, assertive action to cows the brethren into our constitutional rights.
      The human being, regardless of sex has rights that no religion can steal.

      Heavenly Mother Gonhorra needs redefinition. Look for the goddess, mother of the Book of Mormon –– there is none.

  • ColdDodger

    I think the answer to who the church is writing to is to the members. None of the media are going to take them seriously, and the church isn’t that stupid to think that they would.

    The church is only concerned with keeping members on the kool-aid. Something that will take you out of Lehi’s dream right quick is the accusation that you are in a cult and being lead by self-serving men who are not above manipulating you and even lying to you.

    So the church approves and publishes an essay, the language of which is clearly not Mormonspeak, nevertheless it is written to Mormons who are concerned about how their legitimacy sounds –– not as if they were ashamed to bear their cross before Babylon, but if it’s just a fucking cult, then that’s something else. We can keep believing and ignore those in the great and spacious building as long as we think all their scorn in unfounded or answerable with a perfectly reasonable, easily explainable response that thwarts the criticisms and reestablishes the legitimacy of following correlated mormonism, I mean the Brethren.

    Just going off what my basic gospel principles class is like, there are the amateur Mopologists who have the status of scriptorians and mighty spiritual gurus within their wards –– these guys are at the top (it’s hardly ever a woman). These are going to be the first in line to read an essay like this. There are others who will read the essay at the behest of the Mopologists, but they won’t digest it very thoroughly. They’re just happy to have an explanation that makes at least superficial sense. Then, through these two kinds of people, everybody else will hear the answer via hearsay and on a need-to-know basis (like it always has been) and either accept it or reject it and have problems with the church (much as it always has been.)

    What struck me about the Heavenly Mother essay is that that is exactly how I responded to questions about heavenly mother on my mission. Think about that. This tells you all you need to know about how much thought went into these last two essays. I was a 19, 20 year old brat who learned through daily trial and error what placated people and kept them from thinking any further into the issue and focusing instead on the basics of the restored gospel, Preach My Gospel style. I heard from other elders at district meetings and zone conferences what worked for their investigators, and I tended to go with those.

    Sadly, the church priesthood in charge of the committees and quorums who have the office of writing these sorry excuse notes for the church are stocked with people like this, RMs who think that their singular experience on a mission entitles them to say they have “heard it all,” scoff at the protestors, and patronize new converts and investigators by wondering how “the grandeur of the whole gospel message can be set aside or completely dismissed by some in favor of obsessing over second- or third- or fourth-level pieces of that whole.”

    The best way to keep pioneer stock mormons from leaving is to publically liberalspeak at whomever (it doesn’t matter who exactly) with a legitamate-sounding and faith-promoting answer for the concerned member to read and breath a sigh of relief. It is written for the member by sounding like it’s written at whomever it needs to be written to. I’m going to have a brain aneurism just trying to explain this.

  • Lolo

    I agree that was a very personal question from Randy and story from Heather, but Heather did not really answer the question. Randy asked why she would raise a daughter in the Mormon church, but Heather did not explain why she does it and only explains that it was/is a hard decision. So, I wonder if Heather would explain why she is raising her daughter in the church. How does she justify it? She seems to understand perfectly the doctrinal and cultural problems with the church as well as the harm they cause. I am so confused! I have heard her say she likes the community, friends, family connections, but I don’t see how she could understand the truth so well and stand to be active herself let alone allow her children.
    I have so much anger and such a dim view of the Mormon church since finding out the truth and how it is hidden from members. I don’t understand how people who know these things can still have anything even approaching a positive feeling about this institution. Heather, do you really believe any of it is true?

    • Glenn

      I think you’re asking the wrong question, Lolo. It’s not about truth. It’s about value. What is it that is valuable enough to stick around for? Or put another way, on the teeter-totter of life, with all of the negative things about the church on one side, what is it that keeps the positive side closest to the ground for some people (probably for a lot of people)? I expect we will have some discussions about this on future episodes.

      • Lolo

        Thanks for the reply, Glen. Perhaps this is why I simply cannot understand how those who don’t believe stay active in the Mormon church. It’s not about the truth for them. For me, it’s always about the truth.

        I was troubled by many things throughout my membership. Some aspects and practices always made me very uncomfortable, even to the point that I believed the leaders were wrong on certain points. For example, not being able to talk regularly with family while on a mission is wrong, and I always knew it, but that was just some dumb rule and not doctrine. Until finding the facts that prove J.S. made the whole thing up, I was willing to tolerate these troublesome things because I believed the doctrines were true. When I was a member, I always knew that the only thing that could make me leave is if I found out it was not true. I was comfortable and confident because I never imagined I would find what I did. When I realized it was not true, I actually felt terror knowing that I would have to leave and that would change my life drastically. I thought I might lose all my friends, I would most definitely lose the respect of most people in my community, and family relationships may be damaged. I haven’t lost all of my friends, only some, but those consequences largely “came to pass.” It has been painful, but for me, it would have been much more painful to pretend and to teach my children things I know are not true.

        I suppose everyone must choose for themselves if the price of leaving or the price of staying is too high to bear. The way I see it, there is no avoiding the truth. The truth is the truth, and it is always better to know it and live with it. Lies have no value to me, only the truth. Perhaps some mormons who know the whole truth see enough truth taught in their church that it is valuable to them. I guess the fact that the Mormon church’s claim to be the one true church led by god is a lie is something they can overlook.

  • albertinamel

    Loved the entire episode! I especially love the personal talk with Heather at the end. One comment struck me as incorrect, though. I double-checked, and the BOM actually does mention the word “priesthood” seven times: six times in Alma 13 and once in Alma 4. (I’m going off today’s version, but you can verify it for the 1830 version on josephsmithpapers.org.)

    I think your point that priesthood doesn’t figure prominently in the BOM is worth noting, though. (Luckily, we have D&C teeming with the word – 110 times – to make up for it!) The theology evolved as JS evolved. And at the time the BOM was being written, the concept of priesthood probably didn’t place very high on his list of concerns.

  • Heather

    Good catch. Thanks for the correction.

  • Leslie North

    Since I don’t know how long it will be before you release another infants musical greatest hits, I’ll edited and make my own of this disco mashup. Yes, I love disco and I did maintain my church modesty standard while lighting the serpentine Fire so I could freak out with a Saturday night fever.
    Excellent discussion too.

  • YourHumbleServant

    First off, Heather is my new favorite infant. Second, when I found out we were having a girl, I was so excited. Although Mormonism is bad for boys and girls I don’t think it is bad in the same way. Having a girl gave me the courage to leave because I understood that all the inevitable pain would have a purpose outside of myself. Heather, I think you should leave the LDS church for your children’s sake but based on what I have heard from you so far, I think they are going to be okay no matter what you do. Plus lets face it, kids in this generation, with parents like you won’t last very long in Mormonism anyway.

  • Orrin Dayne

    As a mostly closeted exmo father of two daughters under 12 (“mostly closeted” because only my wife knows my concerns), Heather’s and Randy’s discussion at the end really hit me hard. Our entire family is active and it kills me. If I can find the words, I’ll submit a listener essay on it, but it’s pretty rough.

  • Kelly

    Time for infants to have women on as a regulars: this podcast was excellent! Love the songs in it too

  • albertinamel

    Erica brought up a good point that I think got glossed over. When you study the history of the early RS, you see that they really accomplished an impressive amount of work, more or less autonomously and independently from BY. Once Young was certain to be rid of Emma and anyone who agreed with her anti-polygamy stance, he re-established the RS and really just let it run itself. They established and ran hospitals (with female midwives and MDs), they established and ran their own granaries, etc. I would never want to have been a woman in the Church during the time of Brigham Young, yet there’s a pretty striking paradox found in the amount of autonomy the women of the RS had. As long as he knew they were on board w/the Church, Young just let the talented women run their own show, with arguably less micromanagement than we see today. Check out Year of Polygamy podcast, Episode 46 for a detailed analysis.