It’s been a few, raw days since we all heard the news about Kate Kelly. Since then some rather disturbing facts have come to light – things that her followers should find alarming. So here’s my question to those who are still hanging on to her cause: Will you still stand with Kate, even though she’s been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If your answer is yes, then I beg of you to reconsider what that decision means and how it might critically affect your own personal journey of faith – if that’s important to you. Is it? I hope you know that if you were to decide to not stand with Kate it would be perfectly okay for you to stand ‘by’ her; there’s a difference.
To stand with is to agree and desire to defend a person because you believe in them and their cause. For instance, I stand with Jesus Christ; His Prophet and the Church He organized through the Prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith Jr. I stand with them because I have a deep and abiding testimony that this work is true and that an inspired prophet of God leads it.
So if you’re determined to continue to stand with Kate Kelly, why? What has she done for you? And please don’t give her credit for teaching you a better understanding of the priesthood and how you fit in. What she advocates about LDS women and the priesthood is contrary to the doctrine of the Church. There is a quote from Elder Ballard that says “Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce” (M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers, October 1999).
Why would you stand with someone who has lost her birthright by choosing a mess of pottage, so to speak? If you’ve been prompted to study more about priesthood power and authority, it’s because God has taken opposition to His work and used it in His favor. He’s inspired you to seek revelation, not Kate Kelly. Remember, if it comes from God it is good… you know the rest. (Moroni 7:12)
So, a little opposition to your faith has caused you to flex your spiritual muscles and you’re now better educated, and thus your testimony of the priesthood has been increased. That’s great. But again, please don’t credit the works of an apostate, other than acknowledging that perhaps this situation may be similar to the way the Lord used the Lamanites to be a scourge to the Nephites. It caused them to remember Him. Isn’t He brilliant? (2 Nephi 5: 25) You just have to know and trust that no unhallowed hand can stop the work of salvation from going forward. (Joseph Smith)
Let’s make sure that no matter what, we are choosing to be on the Lord’s side and standing with Him, always. No individual has a right to divide our loyalty, which belongs only to Jesus Christ.
But again, we don’t need to abandon Kate because we’ve decided to not stand with her any longer, because we can still stand by Kate (a much better alternative). To stand by a person is to commit to not letting them walk alone and to support them through their trials. This is a great show of loyalty. Therefore, I submit that for many who share a deep compassion for Kate Kelly during these trying times, whether we agree with what she is doing, how she is doing it, what she believes, or even think her an apostate to the Church, we can choose to stand by Kate.
We can stand by Kate to support her efforts to return to Christ and reclaim her membership in the Church. We can stand by Kate and encourage her to follow the counsel of inspired leaders who deeply care about her spiritual progress. We can stand by Kate and teach her by example to trust in the Lord, that His ways are higher than her ways. We can stand by Kate until we can once again, with the blessings of the Lord, stand with Kate as one in Christ – the intended purpose of LDS Church discipline.
As the mother of five raised children and a former seminary teacher, I learned to value the principle that the best teacher is an excellent student. Kelly had garnered a position of leadership/teacher to Mormon women who at times have felt marginalized in the Church for one reason or another (and not because they necessarily desire female ordination). I know this, because many have shared these thoughts with me. Unfortunately, what many of you were led to believe was okay (to publicly advocate for or align yourselves with) have been clearly determined to be acts of apostasy. And, depending on your circumstances, if you plan on continuing, you could potentially meet the same fate as Kate.
It is no longer advisable to consider Kate a leader among women of covenant. Sadly, she’s not. She is clearly misguided in how to petition the Lord and His Prophet. Her cause was never about asking faithful questions. Please don’t be fooled. She believes she knows better than a Prophet of God and has the answer about women and priesthood. Ordain Women advocates a relentless determination to force their will on the Lord’s Prophet. These acts place her and her followers in open rebellion to the Church, its leaders and therefore God.
Kate Kelly has publicly stated that she will continue Ordain Women and has no regrets as to how she has conducted herself up to this point – even when the Church has clearly stated that her actions are divisive. In fact, her most recent counsel to Mormon feminists who share her concerns about inequality in the Church and/or a desire for female ordination is this: Stay in the Church, but raise hell. I don’t know about you, but that’s not a message that is inspired of God.
It might surprise some to know that Ms. Kelly has been mentored throughout the entire journey of organizing and carrying out the work of Ordain Women by a fairly well-known woman by the name of Margaret Toscano. Toscano used to be a member of the Church until she, too, was excommunicated for advocating for female priesthood ordination. Do you see a pattern here? Follow an apostate and you will very likely end up in the same place. Is that what you want? I hope not.
For many years I thought this temple recommend question odd, not understanding it’s importance, and so I just answered “no” and moved on: Do you support, affiliate, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I now understand what this means in terms of apostates and guarding against personal apostasy. If we affiliate and sympathize with apostates or those whose beliefs are contrary to the teachings of the Church, it usually means that we won’t understand why they were excommunicated or disciplined. Rather, we would think their acts have been misjudged or misunderstood. It means we don’t “get it” and that’s a precarious place to be when it comes to being determined to keeping covenants. In the age of the Internet, with so many alternate voices even within our own Church membership, that temple question could very well become more relevant.
Do you feel Kate Kelly is misunderstood? Do you feel her priesthood leaders were wrong to excommunicate her? If you answered yes to either, or both, that’s probably a red flag and early warning sign. It should concern you that perhaps your faith in Jesus Christ is wavering and that you might be going down the same path. I don’t know. But what I do know is that if you sincerely care about making sure you keep your covenants with God, you may want to reconsider your associations with these groups and prayerfully be determined to realign your will with our Heavenly Father.
If you have questions that you find difficult to ask in Church settings, then please consider taking them straight to the Lord and then heading into the scriptures. This is the approach that prophets and apostles model and counsel us to do, and it is what our Heavenly Father and the Savior want us to do. The temple is an excellent place to receive revelation. Take your questions to the temple, and accompany these questions by much prayer and fasting. The Lord will speak to you and tell you what will help you better understand. I’ve had this experience many times. He may even give you the answer you seek. At the very least, He will speak peace to your heart and give you His Grace that will enable you to bear your burdens with gladness.
We will never find the answers to our deepest questions in a blog post, on Facebook, or in an online forum—and especially not among those who hold contrary feelings toward the Church or its doctrine. So, if those are some of the places you’ve been looking for answers, or support, perhaps you might want to reconsider your strategy and turn directly to the Lord. Trust Him completely. He is your Eternal Father and cares infinitely about your well-being and eternal happiness.
Each of us can carve out a space for ourselves within our individual wards or branches. We do this by taking a humble approach and realizing that most people are in need of others to help them feel comfortable. Our divine differences can be celebrated. We don’t need to find people who think and feel exactly as we do in order to find community among our sisters in the gospel. The gospel makes us one.
If you’ve been away for a while, come back! If you’re thinking of leaving, please don’t! If you’re hurting, the Atonement can heal your heart. If you feel some cultural things in the Church could benefit from some changes, there is still a place for you. Give your fellow Church members a second chance to help you know that you are valued, loved and wanted. There is no ideal, perfect “cookie cutter” Mormon woman. The only idea that we need to desire more than anything else is to keep our covenants with God. You belong and we will stand with you. And together, we will stand for—and with—Jesus Christ.
“Let not any voices of discontent disturb you. Let not the critics worry you. As Alma declared long ago, “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” “As surely as this is the work of the Lord, there will be opposition. There will be those, perhaps not a few, who with the sophistry of beguiling words and clever design will spread doubt and seek to undermine the foundation on which this cause is established. They will have their brief day in the sun. They may have for a brief season the plaudits of the doubters and the skeptics and the critics. But they will fade and be forgotten as have their kind in the past. Meanwhile, we shall go forward, regardless of their criticism, aware of but undeterred by their statements and actions. Said the Lord even before the Church was organized: ““Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”” Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, God Is at the Helm, April 1994.