Last week, I heard of the news that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin had received letters from their local LDS leadership that they will be subject to disciplinary councils and are facing excommunication for apostsy. Ms. Kelly is the founder of the Ordain Women movement and Mr. Dehlin runs the website Mormon Stories and recently posted an interview with Sandra Tanner, a long-time prominent critic of the LDS church. Mr. Dehlin has also publicly expressed his disbelief in some of the truth claims of the LDS church but still has a desire to be a member of the LDS church. Over the weekend, it appears that Mr. Dehlin’s stake president is backtracking a bit in an effort to de-escalate the situation. I have mixed feelings, and have one question and a few observations.
From what I heard, Ms. Kelly’s disciplinary council will be before her bishopric (3 men) while Mr. Dehlin, as a Melchizedek priesthood holder, will be brought before a disciplinary council at the stake level (15 men). My question to Mormons and ex-Mormons who have been in leadership positions, is it correct that a woman, by virtue of not holding the Melchizedek priesthood, always has a disciplinary council before her bishopric and not before the stake high council?
Ms. Kelly recently moved from her ward in Virginia to, I believe, Utah a few months ago. I understand her records have not been moved to her new ward and her disciplinary council is being called in her old ward. She is unable to return for her disciplinary council so she will not be able to present any kind of defense to her old bishop.
When I was LDS, I often heard about how women are not treated any differently than men. However, my personal experience was quite different. Ms. Kelly’s treatment indicates to me, especially as compared to Mr. Dehlin, that there are indeed differences. Sorry, but I think that holding on to her membership record and holding a disciplinary council in absentia by a former bishopric is really not all that Christlike or fair.
I also recently learned that there were a couple of opponents to the LDS church priesthood ban against blacks who were excommunicated. One of them, Byron Marchant, was excommunicated after he cast a dissenting vote at General Conference against sustaining a church leader. Mr. Marchant was initially called to a disciplinary council after he announced he was going to protest the priesthood ban. The council was postponed and Mr. Marchant cancelled his protest. He then cast a dissenting vote at General Conference and was quickly excommunicated. He was excommunicated about a year before the priesthood ban was lifted.
So is history going to repeat itself? Will Kate Kelly be excommunicated and the LDS church will ordain women to the priesthood in some form or fashion in a few years?
The LDS church certainly has precedent to ordain women in some fashion. LDS women in the early church did give blessings of healing to each other and to children. I am not aware that they ever gave blessings to men, but they did give blessings. This happened until the 1920’s - 1940’s.
Women also administer the priesthood ordinances of washing and anointing to other women in the temple. It seems that LDS women do receive the priesthood when they are endowed in the temple, even though it is not explicitly stated.
LDS women could be ordained to the priesthood. There is a framework for it in the temple and historical precedent for women administering blessings outside the temple. The LDS church could “return to its roots” in a sense and give LDS women the ability to bless each other and their children again.