Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

“We disagree with what our leaders said in General Conference.”

Posted by Kerry on December 30, 2007

In the October 2007 General Conference, Sister Julie Beck gave what I initially thought was a harmless talk. I personally believe it was a great talk that was inspiring as well as supportive of the Proclamation on the Family from 1995.

Her talk was entitled “Mothers Who Know”. Here are a few selected passages to remind you of her talk:

“Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are ‘becoming less valued’, in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children.”

“Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness…Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence.”

“Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization.”

“Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home.”

There is a group of LDS women who disagree with Sister Beck. They say: “Several ideas within the body of President Beck’s talk conflict with our inspiration and experience…We believe that women are more complicated and diverse and our situations more challenging and nuanced than is generally recognized [by the brethren or church leaders or the church in general].” Bracket text added by me for context.

See their website here: What Women Know

And be sure and read their FAQs: WWK – FAQs

My question is this: Do groups like this have an impact on the brethren and their thinking? Know of any examples? Is this the appropriate way to try and change the church? At what point is public disagreement with the brethren inappropriate, if at all?

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2 Responses to ““We disagree with what our leaders said in General Conference.””

  1. Andrew said

    Elder Oaks gave an excellent talk on this very topic, which was printed in the February issue of the Ensign in 1987. You can find it here:

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=883267700817b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    As I understand Elder Oaks’ remarks, it is perfectly acceptable to hold a personal opinion that disagrees with Church policy, or to write a private letter to Church leaders disagreeing with a policy, but that it is inappropriate to make your disagreements public.

  2. Shawn L said

    I think this is a classic case of overreaction. I listened President Beck’s talk and heard nothing out of the ordinary (of course, that’s easy to say from way up here, perched aloft my patriarchical throne). To this day, even months later, I don’t see what the fuss was about.

    That said, I think that on rare occasions, groups outside Church leadership can have an impact on Church policy. For example, there is a good argument to be made that the scholarhsip of folks like Lester Bush and Armand Mauss(published in journals such as Dialogue) regarding the priesthood ban at least precipitated the 1978 revelation extending the priesthood to “all worthy males.” (http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/neither/neither3.htm)

    On the more general point of “criticism,” Elder Oaks makes a key distinction. “Critical evaluation” is not only OK, it is “inevitable.” He warns specifically only criticism to the extent is equates to “faulfinding” or “criticism.” I think the key to his analysis is this: “The critical consideration is how we use the truth.” I agree that, in the case of a difference, the path of least confrontation is often best — an argument over policy with your Bishop is never an edifying experience. However, even Elder Oaks recognizes that, in many cases, appeal to a higher ecclesiatical leader may be necessary, so long as it is done for worthy purposes.

    (A side note: I think this talk makes more sense in the context of the Mormon culture wars of the late 80’s-early 90’s, in which the pages of Sunstone were filled with direct jabs at Church leaders. It was Oaks who, only a few years later, would put a finer point on this discussion in his “alternate voices” talk at General Conference. I don’t recall hearing this sort of talk in recent years).

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