I’ll write more on this later in the week when the official remarks are published, but I think that Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk from General Priesthood Session on Saturday night with well worth some brief comments.
As I was following conference on Twitter (in all honesty, General Conference is pretty much the only time I ever use Twitter) and I was disappointed in the responses that his talk seemed to be generating.
The first group were predominately men, and in general the comments were: “Boom! #ElderOaks just schools #Ordainwomen, #dropsmic” This, in my opinion, totally mischaracterizes his talk, and is a completely inappropriate way to deal with members of the church who have publicly stated that feel marginalized and misunderstood. The reality is that this talk schools all of us. This talk took existing information and presented it in a way that reiterates what the priesthood is, while opening our eyes to a grander vision of the potential for the priesthood in our church and lives.
The second group were supporters of Ordain Women who seemed to quickly dismiss his remarks thinking he was digging in and arguing for the status quo (although, I’ve noticed this morning that many seem to have stepped back from that). This talk was not about maintaining the status quo, if anything it was laying the groundwork for a changes and shifts that are likely coming.
I think that Elder Oaks talk should come as an assurance to those women who feel marginalized and underutilized in the Church. It shows that those in positions of control are thinking about this issue and discussing it at depth. I expect this is the first of many talks that will trigger a paradigm shift (I know, I know, it’s a cliched buzzword, but I couldn’t find an adequate synonym) in how we as a Church look at the priesthood and the roles women fulfill through their priesthood authority. I believe we will discover that through priesthood keys there are a great many roles that women can fulfill when that authority is delegated to them. This talk certainly justifies an expansion of areas where women can fulfill priesthood opportunities. I think this list of considerations is a good place to start.
I know that the Lord cares about each and every one of us, especially those who sit in our pews and silently feel ostracized either by ideology or socialization. Our church structure and culture are NOT perfect. Our organization is simply the best that His chosen servants have come up with based on guidelines in the scriptures coupled with ongoing revelation. Our culture is comprised of imperfect people, so of course it is imperfect. I think that changes will come in a manner the Lord sees fit, and will probably look very different from many people’s expectations. It will probably happen too slow for some and too fast for others, but the result will be a church that operates in a more Celestial manner in relation to the roles of men and women.
I hope to be able to delve in more deeply when the talk is published later this week.