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It was in 2013 that I first penned a list of things I thought would change in the Church as we moved towards the diarchy that surely exists in the celestial kingdom. I’ve periodically updated and added to it in subsequent writings. Recently, I’ve been reminded it’s time I updated the list for 2019—and boy, oh boy, are there a lot of updates to make!

Think about all that has happened since 2013 . . . women praying in General Conference; incorporating women into leadership councils, such as Mission Leadership Councils, the Missionary Executive Council, the Priesthood and Family Executive Council, the Temple and Family History Executive Council . . . so much has happened! Let’s take my old lists and see what we can check off. A check mark means I think a lot of progress has been made. A “1/2” checkmark means I see some real progress, but more is needed. No checkmark means I see little or no progress.


I. Temple Ceremonies—

√—I anticipate that in the future we will see portrayed in the endowment ceremony that Eve actually had something to say after the Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. Right now, she turns into a potted plant after that departure. Women (and men) have read into her complete silence things that are not true.

√—I anticipate we will see a greater indication of our doctrinal belief that Eve did not sin in partaking of the fruit of the First Tree.

√—I anticipate we will see a greater indication that in partaking of the fruit that Eve gave him, Adam is hearkening unto Eve in righteousness, as he no doubt covenanted to do in the pre-existence. In that way, women (and men) will see that there were two hearkenings in the Garden of Eden story: men are to hearken to women, and women are to hearken to men.

√*—I hope to see changes not only in the endowment ceremony, but also in the washing/anointing and the sealing ceremonies to greater reflect diarchy.

2019 Update: The new temple films get all these things right and much, much more. We can’t say in an open forum what those other things are, but if you have gone within the last year, you know exactly what I am talking about. I used to have a constant drip of women asking me how to stay in the Church after they had gone to the temple for the first time. Now there are none for there is no longer any such need. A huge burden has been lifted. And the Church changed a practice I had not even thought of changing, by allowing women to be official witnesses of ordinances! Women had always been witnesses, but had never been acknowledged in that formal role before.

*Note: In my opinion, there may be a bit more to do in the sealing ceremony, but all I feel at the moment is immense gratitude for what a changed experience it is to go to the temple as a woman now, so I don’t feel a ½ checkmark would reflect those feelings.


II. Understanding Priesthood and priesthood—

½ √—I had hoped we would understand that the umbrella term “Priesthood” is extended to women, even while priesthood offices, such as deacon and elder, are retained by men. I had hoped we would see lessons on this for all adults and children through teaching programs of the Church.

—I had hoped we would see and acknowledge that women have their own priestesshood and their own keys that are not given to them by men, but rather by their Heavenly Mother.

2019 Update: The idea that women share in priesthood authority and that endowed women have priesthood power is growing, and has been promulgated in a number of recent talks by our General Authorities. At the same time, the idea that women may have power that is not extended to them by men is not yet among us. But I feel that day is coming.


III. Helping Parents, Including Mothers, to More Effectively Teach the Pattern of Male-Female Relations as Practiced in Heaven

½ √—In a darkening world where the Church’s teachings on male/female relations may increasingly be viewed as hateful, I had hoped the Church would provide some assistance to parents, including mothers, to help them keep those teachings alive in the hearts of their children.

½ √—Part of that effort would have to include seeing the Heavenly Family as the pattern for our earthly families, which would mean bringing Heavenly Mother out from obscurity.

½ √—I had hoped to see a greater emphasis on the term “Heavenly Parents” in cases where we are not specifically talking about Heavenly Father. And how nice it would be, just as we say Elder John and Sister Mary Smith—a locution which acknowledges each individual in the couple—that we would always strive to say Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. The most symbolic change that could happen would be a change in the Young Women’s theme, where we would hope one day our young women could acknowledge that they are daughters of Heavenly Parents who love them.

2019 Update: Finally, finally, the Young Women theme says “Heavenly Parents”! Hallelujah! Perhaps the Aaronic Priesthood holders should say something equivalent in their theme to remind them they also have two Heavenly Parents? I think I will make that part of any new wishlist I put together! Furthermore, I have noticed that the proportion of time that “Heavenly Parents” as a term is used in General Conference (as versus Heavenly Father) is increasing. Yet we still have far to go in terms of understanding our Heavenly Mother and her role in the Great Plan concerning Her children. Perhaps this is a job for Her daughters, and not Her sons, to lead out in, though.

The new home-centered Church curriculum can assist parents, including mothers, to teach plain truths that may be uncomfortable to say in public settings in the present day; perhaps the Church feels it can do no more than that or that one day soon that time will come. But I predict the Church will need to do more to help families in the future as the world finds our doctrine to be more and more “hateful.”


IV. Naming—

√—I had hoped we could retire the term “auxiliaries” and its associated terms such as “auxiliary leaders.”

√—I had hoped we could come up with better names than Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel.

—I had hoped we could come up with better names for women leaders, e.g. changing “mission president’s wife” to something a bit less appendage-like.

—I had hoped that the naming and blessing of children could involve their mothers, as some wards and stakes already do in some fashion.

2019 Update: We are moving fast on this! I am sure that new terms for women leaders will also be coming . . . After all, women presidencies are now “officers” of “Church organizations”! There are already practices in some local units where mothers are invited to participate in the naming of their infants, for example, by holding them during the naming and blessing. However, an official “allowance” of this would be most welcome!


V. Sealing Practice—

—Currently, a dead woman may be sealed to more than one man, but a living woman may not. (See discussion here.) A widow with children who remarries faces a very hurtful situation along with her new husband. She cannot be sealed to her second husband, even if she has children with him. The husband cannot be sealed to his own children. The children cannot be sealed to their father. I believe that one day, women—whether living or dead—will be able to be sealed to more than one man, just as men are.

2019 Update: This has not happened yet, but surely it will. Surely, surely it will.


VI. General Conference—

√—I had hoped women would pray in General Conference.

—As we move closer towards Zion, I anticipate that one day we will hear a powerful talk in General Conference focused on Heavenly Mother, striking down in one fell swoop all the cultural inhibitions that have wrongly led us to believe this subject is somehow taboo. And I hope this talk will be given jointly by a man and a woman, so we are not faced with the appearance of men giving women permission to talk about their own Mother.

½ √—On a related note, I believe one day we will hear, on a routine basis, from the companions of General Authorities.

—I also anticipate that one day—probably soon—we will hear a powerful talk in General Conference that plainly states that education is not Plan B for girls, but it is Plan A, and young women will be strongly encouraged to finish their degrees, and young men will be asked to facilitate their wives’ graduation from college even after marriage. Again, this will serve to strike down any remaining cultural weeds on this topic.

—I had hoped that male leaders would try, when appropriate, to quote women leaders more often.

—I had hoped that one day the diarchy we know exists in Heaven would be before our eyes at General Conference, by having spouses together on the stand.

2019 Update: While that General Conference talk about Heavenly Mother has not yet happened, the wives of General Authorities have been speaking more when they travel with their husbands, and this is wonderful! Sometimes the spouses actually speak together at the podium, offering an immensely powerful visualization of diarchy. Perhaps at some point we might even hear from the wives of General Authorities during Conference? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could even be seated on the stand with their husbands, in similitude of how Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother must surely sit together in heaven?

I have been listening hard to hear our male General Authorities quote women more often, and while I have heard that happen once or twice, I’m still hoping to hear more. I understand there is now a website that makes it easy to find those quotes.


VII. Relief Society General Presidency—

√—I anticipate that one day we will see a retired working mother of grown children appointed to the Relief Society General Presidency, thus indicating to the membership in no uncertain terms that working mothers can be as righteous in the eyes of Church leadership as mothers who have not worked.

—I hope to see the Relief Society General President able to directly access the President of the Church, rather than through an intermediary.

—I had hoped to see the General Relief Society Presidency given a chance to formally weigh in on the Proclamation on the Family, and then the Church would officially make that Proclamation part of our scriptural canon, thus demonstrating the equal partnership of men and women in anything important concerning the family.

2019 Update: Sister Reyna Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, is that woman mentioned in my first point! I am also excited that Sister Sharon Eubank was not released as head of LDS Charities when she was called to the Relief Society General Presidency—that is very meaningful, I believe.

I have not heard that the Relief Society General President can directly access the Prophet yet; if anyone knows of a change on this, please do tell me.

No movement yet on the Proclamation on the Family. But surely that will also take place.


VIII. Walking the Walk on the Importance of Family—

½ √—I believe we will see the LDS Church and its units, including BYU, lead out in developing the most innovative family-friendly workplace policies ever seen, in accordance with Elder Cook’s injunction that, “I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents.” The Church’s recent announcement of paternity and maternity leave is excellent, but might there be more to do? Our Heavenly Parents gave not only their sons, but also their daughters, skills, talents, and insight that could bless our world. Can we make it possible to both contribute our talents to help improve the world our children will one day inhabit, as well as bearing and raising and being there for children? Can the Church lead out in that quest?

—I anticipate we will see over time that men are only considered for high positions in the Church if they have not lived their lives in such a way that they have, in a de facto sense, abandoned their wives and children while they pursued success in their careers. I also remember this anecdote [1] and wonder if when callings to higher authority positions are made in the Church, the presiding authorities issuing the call could remember these things, as well.

—I would like to see a clarification concerning whether a single mother can receive assistance from the Church if she chooses to stay at home with her children. I have known bishops who have made access to the storehouse contingent on a single mother with preschool children becoming employed, and I am not sure that is a righteous stipulation. I’d like to see some engagement with such issues.

2019 Update: The announcement of maternity and paternity leave for Church employees was very important, but there’s clearly a lot more to do in this area.


IX. Teaching Our Youth—

√—I anticipate that we will see the Personal Progress Program for Young Women be modified to include preparation in real-world life skills that young women need. Just as the Young Men (in Scouts) are taught merit badges such as communication, citizenship, and so forth, so we will begin to see that our Young Women need such important skills as well. They need to know how city councils are run, for example, just as much as our young men do. Furthermore, I anticipate the Church will back up this commitment by expending resources for the Young Women’s Program that are on a par with the resources we expend on our Young Men’s/Scouting Programs.

√—Already underway, I anticipate we will see our Young Men’s and Young Women’s lessons will be based more fully on the most modern revelations, and not, for example, suggest that a righteous woman’s only possible path is that of stay-at-home mom unless she never marries. We will teach our Young Women instead that they should counsel with the Lord about the path God has planned for their individual lives, and that God will provide divine assistance for any woman He calls to play a role in the world as well as the role of a mother. We will teach our Young Men that the women they love may be called upon by the Lord to play a role in reshaping and healing the world, and that they should support the women they love in these divine callings.

—I anticipate we will see the Church make some small, but incredibly important choices that will cascade outward in unexpected ways. For example, the choice to feature some working mothers on Mormon.org was much more revolutionary for LDS persons than it could ever be for non-members. It spoke volumes in a way nothing else could. I believe as we move closer to Zion that we will see the Church do small things for women that create powerful ripples, especially in terms of role models for our young women. For example, I would not be surprised if the Church one day appointed a woman to be president of one of the three Church-owned universities, BYU, BYU-I, or BYU-H for this very reason.

—I anticipate we will see that our Young Women will no longer be taught that modesty and chastity are all about protecting men who cannot control their urges, but is rather about equal standards for temple worthiness for both Young Men and Young Women. In this regard, I also anticipate that we will speak more plainly to our youth about the myths of rape, such as the dress of a woman can justify a rape, or that men are less to blame for their actions than women.

—I had hoped to see advancement as a Young Women seen as important as advancement in the Aaronic Priesthood.

2019 Update: I believe the new program for youth, since it is the same structure for both boys and girls, is already a huge step forward. It has also been announced that the budget for the Aaronic Priesthood and the Young Women will be split equitably. Furthermore, the Young Women’s presidency will now report directly to the bishop instead of one of his counselors. There’s been great movement in this area!

And while we don’t have a female president of a BYU yet, surely it is momentous that we have a female president of UVU, in the heart of Zion, right next door to BYU, and that several other Utah-based universities have female presidents as well.

I do wish the new Youth Program would specify some important real-world skills as the old Boy Scout program did, but perhaps that is not the job of the Church. As for lessons on modesty and chastity, and also the social significance of advancement in Young Women’s, I assume that is for local units to work on, but perhaps a nudge from higher ecclesiastical levels might be useful.


X. Our Councils—

√—I anticipate we will see in the future that because of the more consistent inclusion of women in all councils, people will think it completely natural that women must be present for the councils to work properly, and they will openly express concern when women are not present.

½ √—As mentioned previously, I believe questions of who has or does not have authority will fade as we truly incorporate the principle of unanimity in our councils, and as we recognize that women have and hold their own power and authority of divine origin. When unanimity is the rule and equal voice the principle, the entire notion of authority changes. Yes, men hold certain keys of divine power that women do not, and I believe women hold certain keys of divine power that men do not, but when we do things unanimously and with equal voice in all our councils, the whole matter fades as a wedge issue between men and women.

½ √—I anticipate that there will come a time when the Elder’s Quorum and the High Priests Group will begin to share in the large responsibility for caring labor that currently rests at the feet of the Relief Society alone.

—I had hoped to see women on the Church’s building committee, so that church buildings can be designed with women and mothers of young children in mind.

2019 Update: This dream of more integrated councils is being realized. Women are involved in all of the important executive councils at every level of the Church. I confess that I have no idea whether women now sit on the Church’s building committee; if you know, please do tell!

The idea that endowed women have priesthood power is gaining ground, and the notion that women who are given a calling in the Church are operating with priesthood authority is being increasingly understood. Furthermore, the ministering program has the capability to bring ward-level brethren into the discipleship of care even more than before.


XI. Traditional Practices—

—I had hoped the Church would be more forthcoming about advising members that certain traditional practices harm women (and also men, in some cases). While polygamy is proscribed, there are practices such as brideprice, dowry, and female genital cutting that are ongoing even among converted members of the Church. Can these harmful be more openly discouraged? Could inquiry about such practices even be made part of the temple recommend interview?

√—I had hoped to see that women, including mothers of young children, could become institute teachers and religion teachers.

2019 Update: It was amazing to see the Church open up institute and religion teacher positions to mothers of young children! So much heartache and misunderstanding was done away with in that one wonderful fell swoop! And we heard Elder Holland, in one 2016 talk given in the UK, condemn female genital cutting. But there is more to be done concerning the elimination of traditional practices harmful to women.


XII. Counseling with Young Women—

√—As we move forward, I anticipate bishops will receive special gender sensitivity training in order to more appropriately guide our young women as they talk to their bishops, especially about sexual matters. (I think we are all aware of horror stories of young women who counseled with untrained bishops and were permanently scarred as a result.)

2019 Update: Anyone, male or female, now has the right to bring a second person with them to bishop’s interviews, and the same right is held by missionaries when interviewed by their mission president.


Summary Thoughts

This has been an eye-opening exercise for me personally, and I hope it’s been useful for others. There has been tremendous movement forward in the cause of diarchy! As Sister Sharon Eubank says, “this is a woman’s church,” and may I add, “this is a woman’s prophet.” Zion comes ever closer as our families and our Church move in the direction of the heavenly template of diarchy.

Is there still work to do? Absolutely. Will I continue to update this list until everything on it has a check mark? You bet I will. But given the tremendous progress made in such a short 5-6 years, I smile to think that I might actually still be on the earth when that day comes . . .


NOTES:

[1] Anonymous:
I think something else that is important concerns the interviews that higher-ups have with men's wives before they call men to positions like bishop and stake president. I have a friend who is married to a man who has refused to have relations with her for ten years, who refuses to converse with her beyond what is necessary for the running of the household, and who basically treats her as a non-person. Even their children are curious why dad won't even hold mom's hand. Believe it or not, this man was recently called to be a stake president! The visiting authority interviewed my friend, asked her many questions about what kind of dad her husband was (he is a good dad). But the single solitary question he asked her about her husband's relationship with her was, "Has he ever hit you?" Of course she said no. Would he have been called if the authority had asked more questions about the marriage? I think those who interview wives should ask more than the "hitting" question. You can tell an awful lot about a man's spiritual state based on how he treats his wife beyond issues of physical abuse.
(from http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleAnonymousMyStory.html#comments )
[Back to manuscript].



Full Citation for this Article: Cassler, V.H. (2019) "Updating My Old Lists! The Status of Diarchy in the Church of Jesus Christ, 2019," SquareTwo, Vol. 12 No. 3 (Fall 2019), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerUpdateList.html, accessed <give access date>.

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