≡ Menu

Nice Pants

Nice PantsIn case you missed it, pants are big in Utah this week. As in wearing pants to church. By women. In Mormon churches.

I’m not going to rehash the entire issue. You can click through to read it. And, to be clear, I’m not joining the pants wearers because:

  • I don’t think it makes much of a point
  • I don’t have many pants that are very nice
  • I’m already marginal enough
  • I’m too chicken

Overall, however, it’s not the movement that surprises me. It’s the reaction to it that is getting to me.

Common Sense Says Wear Pants in Winter

Just last Sunday, I sat in the truck right in front of the church doors. I was on the phone with a college daughter and the rest of the family had gone in for the meeting. As I sat there I saw woman after woman walk into the church shivering (fully coated) due to the wind, light snow, and uncovered legs. Point being how dumb it was that we had to wear dresses when it’s below freezing.

When I was in college, the BYU student employee dress code required women to wear dresses at all times. So while I hoofed it around campus in my skirts, blouses, pantyhose, and heels (read that “serious pain”), the guys I worked with wore their regular clothes and pulled a semi-matching tie out of their backpacks when they got to work. However, that winter (1986–1987) the policy changed to allow women to wear nice slacks during a particular dated window of time. Point being, they figured out it was dumb to force women to wear a dress when it was below freezing outside.

Someone did a service project a number of weeks ago in our ward. The end result was a stack of blankets to put out in Relief Society to keep us from incurring frostbite. Point being, someone else noticed that women were required to dress in a way that caused us to risk harm from exposure.

A woman on Facebook yesterday said that if women were cold in their dresses in the dead of winter, it’s because they weren’t “dressed properly.” Actual suggestions included wearing sweats and/or thermals under our dresses — in church. Point being that apparently wearing sweat pants under a dress is OK, but wearing nice regular pants is wrong.

LDS women in most countries are expected to wear dresses to church — even when it’s completely impractical. I suggest we recognize that women can be respectful and appropriately dressed in dresses or pants and that we officially recognize a willingness to let them choose without stigma.

Important or Not?

I’ve seen two (really lame, fallacious) arguments repeatedly leveled against the women of the pants.

  1. The issue isn’t important
    Apparently there are a gazillion people (mostly women) who think the idea of wearing pants to church is the most insignificant issue imaginable. It’s “stupid,” “silly,” “lame,” “useless,” “pointless,” “ridiculous,”knit-picking” [sic], “petty,” and “trivial.”
    And yet, it’s important enough that they are compelled to spend their precious time and energy making fun of it.
  2. The issue isn’t important enough
    As one caller said on the Rod Arqette show on Thursday: “Pants on Sunday? How silly! There are so many important things. Why doesn’t she organize a pro-life rally or do a project for the homeless?”
    This is the fallacy of relative privation. And I’m just waiting with bated breath for this caller to have this conversation:”Caller: Johnny, I asked  you to pick up your room. Now march back up there and get it done.Johnny: Mom! Clean my room? Are you serious? How silly! There are so many important things to do. Why don’t you stop hassling me about my room and go organize a pro-life rally? Dude!”

I suggest those who disagree with the idea and/or approach use reasonable discussion instead of nonsensical arguments.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

You know I’m not much into being nice, but the vitriol I encountered in response to this movement was everywhere. Mormon women — who are even “nice” in the face of repeated child molestation — suddenly couldn’t keep the invective from flying. Here’s a sampling:

Maybe next week, just to prove that I am a women, I will go to church wearing my bra on my head and flippers on my feet…that will show them!!

If people are going to start knit-picking little things like this, they are not truely converted , it just shows satan is alive and well when he starts putting members against members, sad day!

It could not me more off the mark!!!!

Is she NUTS?

Disappointed at the short-sightedness of some to try and hijack it for personal agendas.

What is she thinking? and who does she think she is? Seriously.

Foolishness never ends

What happened to “sacrificing all things”? We can’t even ask you to wear a dress? Good thing nobody needs to cross any desert plains in one these days! Good Grief.

And it gets worse. One of the founders of All Enlisted, Stephanie Lauritzen, even received a death threat. A death threat for wanting to wear pants.

One man, a former state legislator, posted this:

I can not believe it! I was banned from the “Wear your pants to church” facebook group! Hilarious! I only made one tiny, little facetious comment but I think they took offense ;-) All I said was:

“Just so long as you are home to cook me dinner, do the dishes and bring me a beer, feel free to wear whatever you’d like to church ladies.”

Golly some people…LOL!

Women in the church are subordinate. (Please, let’s not deny the obvious and argue semantics.) And because they are, disparaging comments have an extra bite they might not otherwise have.

Do comments like those shown above help? In my experience, they simply reinforce the stereotype. If men in the church aren’t capable of hearing concerns from women without minimizing and mocking — to whom do we turn?

Listen, Love, Learn

I didn’t post anything about this on my wall, but in another Facebook discussion, a guy I’ve known since I was a kid said this:

This group is wearing pants because they feel women are not treated equally in church. This is ridiculous. I have been raised to always treat women with the utmost respect and admiration. The Relief Society, Young Women and Primary are routinely run more smoothly than Young Men and Elder’s Quorum. I just don’t see the need to protest. If you don’t believe in the Church, then don’t go.

Let’s parse this quote.

This group is wearing pants because they feel women are not treated equally in church. This is ridiculous. I have been raised to always treat women with the utmost respect and admiration.

These women feel unfairly treated. They are idiots. And anyway, I always treat women with respect and admiration, so they are obviously boneheads.

The Relief Society, Young Women and Primary are routinely run more smoothly than Young Men and Elder’s Quorum.

Because women work their backsides off to serve and men are slackers, it’s obvious that everything is totally fair and women have what they need.

I just don’t see the need to protest.

And if a man with the priesthood said he doesn’t see a point, that’s the final word. Go home, ye faithless!

If you don’t believe in the Church, then don’t go.

That’s pretty much exactly what the first presidency said. Just leave, you stupid women. And anyway, wearing pants means that you don’t believe…what the church said…about pants…which was…nothing at all…but…whatever. So take your name off the records and go be an atheist or something, you skirtless heathens.

Pantless Posts Worth Reading

If you’re interested is some other views on this topic, check out these posts by LDS women:

What do you think about the response to the pants issue?

{ 73 comments… add one }

  • jennycherie December 14, 2012, 8:16 am

    The pants vs. skirt issue is actually one that has bothered me for a while. When I joined the church, I wore nice pants/blouse one time, then noticed I was the only woman in pants and asked the missionaries if that was a coincidence or if Mormon women really didn’t wear pants to church. They told me Mormon women don’t wear pants to church. Now that I’ve been a member for 18 long years, I have seen this reinforced time and again. When one of our RS teachers came to church in very nice, dressy pants, the bishop asked a member of the RS presidency to speak to her about it and ask her to please where a skirt or dress when she was teaching. Recently, our bishop asked us to please wear a skirt or dress for our RS non-Sunday meetings unless the activity (such as a fitness class) made that impractical. These are just a couple of examples but it has come up many times. When I was a newer member, it never occurred to me to question it. Recently, I’ve just wondered why it is important? And especially, for a non-Sunday activity that is mostly social, why does it matter if we wear a skirt or dress?

    I just read the links above and found this:

    That statement was reaffirmed by church spokesman Scott Trotter on Tuesday. “Attending church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that,” he said.

    I’ll be honest, this statement annoys me tremendously! I feel like it is for PR and bears no reflection of our actual church. There IS tremendous pressure for women to wear skirts/dresses, mean to wear white shirts and short hair and be clean-shaven!

  • MB December 14, 2012, 10:25 am

    There are at least three issues in this:
    The sacred nature of skirts.
    Gender equality in the church.
    People feeling threatened and some of them (not all of them) responding by being nasty to each other.

    As for skirts, the absolutely latest official statement on attire was this, this past week,
    “Attending church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ,” LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday in a statement. “Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that.”

    So, if skirts are the issue, then it’s not an issue of faith or obedience, but an issue of church members attributing value to a specific item of clothing, rather than to the principle of worship. Unwise, but such things, unfortunatley, happen all the time. We are a letter-of-the-law leaning people far too often.

    As for gender equality in the church, there is not equality of roles or responsibilities in the church. For some people that is of real importance. For others it is not, but they try to assuage the concerns of the former group by maintaining that there is equality or that the former group just doesn’t get it.
    Neither side is feeling listened to. As a result both sides feel threatened and dismissed by the other.

    The last issue, feeling threatened and the nastiness that some resort to, is the one that is at the core and eclipses both. Until it is resolved and we all, both sides, let perfect love cast out fear, replace feelings of being threatened with godly patience and trust and become full of love and learn to love and listen openly as Jesus does, there’s not much hope for a kind resolution to either of the other two issues being debated among the warring rank and file.

    We all have a ways to go.

  • AnonNow December 14, 2012, 3:06 pm

    Allison, I am your friend on facebook and I watched that exchange with Carl Wimmer. I’m not his friend, but it shows up on my feed anyway.

    I watched his short-lived political career. I supported him at the time because he was the best alternative. (I voted for Mia Love in the last Primary and was very glad she won.) He seemed to be sincere, but not incredibly bright. Kind of a buffoon. That’s not exactly the work I’m looking for. He’s not a clown, but rather given to suddenly spout off things that sound like he hasn’t thought through them very well. Or that he doesn’t really understand the result of his positions. He was really pushing for publicity, but then didn’t really know what to do with it.

    I think you should post the rest of that conversation. I will never support him in any political office again. I think he’s more suited as a police officer. Well, unless he pulls over a woman. That would be a nightmare.

    And he looked like a chubby Hitler with that mustache.

  • Adam G. December 14, 2012, 3:09 pm

    If pants are warm and your legs are freezing, wear them. The norm against wearing pants is pretty loose.

    But when a group of people specifically call on folks to wear an item of clothing to sacrament meeting to protest the “cultural, social, and even doctrinal inequalities” in the church, they aren’t just keeping their legs warm, and what they are doing would be problematic whatever the item of clothing was–pants, purple skirts, or cute little coordinated lapel pins.

    Its the attempt to create a political faction/pressure group in sacrament meeting that shocks and offends and the fact that you see nothing wrong with it while denouncing those who are shocked or offended is actually quite surprising.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I’m running out and don’t have time to fully respond, so just let me make a quick note and then check in later.

    Adam G.:

    (1) I did not say I don’t have a problem with the initial event. I said (a) it didn’t surprise me and (b) I wasn’t going to rehash it due to the fact that his has already been repeatedly hashed.

    (2) This post wasn’t about the event itself ( that I felt had been sufficiently hashed), it was about the response to the event. Thus I wrote about the response.

    (3) I did not denounce those who were shocked or offended by the event. I denounced those who were rude, nasty, dismissive, and those who merely mocked the planners rather than addressing their concerns in a civilized, rational manner as a means of expressing their shock and offense.

    Back later.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…All Banks Are Not Created EqualMy Profile

  • pardonmoi December 14, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Never disappointed by the men who prove the issue with their own defense.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2012, 6:12 pm

    jennycherie:

    feel like it is for PR and bears no reflection of our actual church. There IS tremendous pressure for women to wear skirts/dresses, mean to wear white shirts and short hair and be clean-shaven!

    Spot on, sister. In most places, sure, you can wear pants. And then endure the stink eye for the entirety of the meeting.

    MB, very well-written rundown of the issues involved. Thank you for taking the time to add your inssights.

    AnonNow, I haven’t been back to the thread today. Didn’t want to get sucked in! But I’ll go see what you mean. Perhaps it will warrant a post update or just a comment or two. Thanks for the head up.

    Your analysis of Wimmer (Carl, you were outed!) is interesting. One of my daughters saw the thread and was really bothered by his response. She asked me if he was as big a jerk as he sounded like. (Not in those exact words, my paraphrasing.)

    I told her that my impression was that, no, he was a generally decent guy who is kind of a blowhard. (Which seems to align a bit with what you’re saying?) And I told her that I thought if I responded civilly to him, presenting the problem I saw, that he would respond civilly and pedal back his original snarky response.

    I hope I have not been proven wrong! :/

    Adam G., a bit more. I agree this protest wasn’t/isn’t about pants. I also agree that staging a protest of sorts in Sacrament Meeting is problematic. (Although I’m not sure what venue would NOT be seen as problematic by many.)

    I do hope you’ll read jennycherie’s response above. In most places, it’s not remotely as simple as just “wear them.”

  • looseone December 14, 2012, 6:33 pm

    pardonmoi #6 – Your comment is the worst kind of gender discrimination. If you don’t see the problem with staging a political event in sacrament meeting, and you think the fact that a man had a problem with it is the problem, then you need a lot more than being pardoned.

  • Oregonian December 14, 2012, 7:05 pm

    this has brought out the worst in many men and women. they stand on their self righteous self made pedestals while screaming that other people suck.

    if you dont want to wear pants dont. how about listen to someone besides your own voice in your padded echo chamber.

    i am 100% wearing pants this sunday. just because of the jerks on facebook.

  • Deila December 14, 2012, 7:21 pm

    I enjoyed reading about this and was not aware of the conversations. Thanks for sharing. I think our inner hearts are most important in worship, though I understand “putting your best foot forward as well.” Dress should not matter, but it is always an issue, I guess — we read in Isaiah that there comes a time when the daughters of zion walk with a “tinkling of their feet” (presumably rings or something, to draw attention to themselves). Maybe we should be more cautious of having that kind of attitude and not so focused on our dress.

  • pardonmoi December 14, 2012, 10:32 pm

    looseone, you just don’t get it. Like so many men, you can’t stop your chest thumping long enough to _read_ and _think_.

    You accuse me of things I didn’t say and ignore what I did say. Typical. Both men who have commented here did it. Coincidence?

    Just as I said before, in “defending” yourself you prove how little regard LDS men give to women. Next time read before you stick your boot in your mouth.

  • partone December 14, 2012, 10:49 pm

    I don’t really care about pants vs dresses, but the comments from some people against the idea have been vicious and hateful. And people seem amazed that women feel persecuted?

  • chikita December 14, 2012, 10:59 pm

    Thank you. Loved this.

  • Tracy Polyak December 15, 2012, 11:06 am

    I am really confused about this. I don’t understand either side. Maybe it is because half the women in my ward wear pants and always have. Maybe it is because I don’t have men in my life that think they are better than women. Maybe it is because I have never lived out west.

    I concede that there is certain pressure to wear a skirt, but I don’t think it has anything to do with gender issues. When I think of wearing “my best” to church, I imagine a skirt. I put on my knitted tights and my boots and brave the weather for the 15 seconds it takes me to get into the church building from my car. If I were walking or taking the bus, I would surely dress differently.

    But I don’t get why it matters so much, either way.
    Tracy Polyak recently posted…Spell to Write and Read: Two Years LaterMy Profile

  • Tracy Keeney December 15, 2012, 2:09 pm

    I’ll bet all the women who “protest” about having to wear a dress to church when it’s cold outside, would wear fancy ‘evening wear” dresses for a New Year’s Eve ball. Women will wear dresses (even very short, sleeveless dresses) in the winter, when they’re dressing to impress.

  • pardonmoi December 16, 2012, 4:15 am

    Tracy, they didn’t protest about having to wear dresses in the cold.

  • Mike December 16, 2012, 9:19 am

    Tracy Keeney – Excellent point.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 16, 2012, 9:39 am

    pardonmoi is correct.

    If you want to debate MY points, that’s fine. I think it’s dumb to dictate that people should dress EVERY WEEK (and many days in between) in a way the defies common sense. EVEN IF they might actually choose to defy common sense on their own on occasion.

    But if you’re going to refute the argument (if you can call it that) of the event organizers, then you need to find out what their points actually are. They aren’t fighting for better protection from the elements.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…All Banks Are Not Created EqualMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner December 16, 2012, 9:42 am

    I didn’t follow the whole thing on Facebook because it was getting nasty and I think entirely missing the point. There might be something I’m missing, but I don’t think this is about pants at all. And it’s not about the priesthood either. It’s about women feeling like they have a voice and that the voice is being heard. The pants is just a way to get a lot of people to notice that there are women out there who are concerned about gender issues in the church.

    Most of the time, I’m pretty content where I am. However, until you’ve served as a president under a dictatorial bishop or had a domineering husband who abuses his priesthood, you just might not get it. There have certainly been times when I’ve wished I had more of a voice.

    Those who say, “you do have a voice! At any given time in a ward there are at least 9 women who are in presidencies! They have a voice.’” Consider this. For those 9 women, there are at least 12 men “in charge” and that’s just at the ward level. None of those 9 women have any stewardship over any male who has turned 12 years old, and every decision they make is overseen by a man or men. Now, I will say that in some presidencies/bishoprics this has worked out beautifully where the bishopric “allows” the women to pretty much run their organization with very little oversight. I’ve also been on the other side where it’s very heavy-handed and micromanaged by the bishopric and that’s a very painful few years for a woman.

    So, in a nutshell, I support what these women are trying to do. It doesn’t matter to every woman, but it matters to many.

    I will not be wearing pants because I don’t have anything other than jeans and that’s just not respectful at church. I am also chicken. I am also directing the ward choir today don’t really feel like my whole ward viewing my rear end in jeans would be comfortable for me – a long black skirt hides much more. :) I will, however wear my purple sweater (it was in the rotation for today anyway, how’s that for divine providence?).

    MB, thank you for your comments.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 16, 2012, 9:44 am

    P.S. A friend of mine got married yesterday. Because of the way they wanted their wedding photos to look, they both braved the cold — including snow — outside the temple and the reception venue — to take photos.

    In spite of that, I’m not going to tell them to go coatless when they walk to school or even when *I* want to take neato pictures in the winter.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Merry Month of ChristmasMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner December 16, 2012, 9:59 am

    Jennycherie- Here would be my response to wearing skirts to mid-week meetings: As soon as the youth are dressing up for mutual and the scouts for their campouts, I’ll be at RS with my dress on. Bleh.

    Oh, and I understated the numbers I mentioned above. Most wards have 9 women in presidencies (this does not include secretaries) and 15 men in presidencies (same…no secretaries or clerks). I didn’t include YW/AP presidencies because they have the same numbers…but again, even the numbers are not the point. The point is that every woman ultimately is directed in her calling by a man. Men are only directed by other men.

  • Tracy Keeney December 16, 2012, 10:23 am

    No matter WHAT the reason– cold weather, trying to have a “voice” heard– whatever… wearing pants to church, specifically to “make a point” is rebellion. Period.

  • Tracy Keeney December 16, 2012, 10:36 am

    If sisters “want to be heard” they can write letters. If this just a matter of “common sense”– then again, they can write letters to headquarters explaining their reasoning. But organizing a nationwide “protest” of sorts, by telling women to “speak up and be heard”, “stand out and be heard”, however it was worded, to show up to Sacrament meeting deliberately dressed opposite of the way they’ve been asked to dress is outright rebellion. ORGANIZED rebellion. This is “stick it in your face Bishop”, “stick it in your face all you oppressing priesthood holders” , kind of stuff. This is, “I know you said we shouldn’t, be WE disagree, so we’re going to do whatever the heck we want. And look how many of us there are! So screw you. We’re wearing pants.”
    I hope everyone understands that the issue here will NOT end up being whether or not women can wear pants– but the rebellion in people’s hearts to organize and/or participate in something like this. This WILL be considered rebellion– because that’s exactly what it is.

  • pardonmoi December 16, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Trying to have a voice is rebellion? I’m speechless. I guess Tracy doesn’t pray unless she’s just telling God how awesome he is.

  • Tracy Polyak December 16, 2012, 2:48 pm

    Allison,

    I wasn’t refuting anyone’s argument. I was truly expressing confusion. It is hard to understand where everyone is coming from when they are saying that XYZ is happening in the Church, and I have never personally seen it.

    Angie,

    Thank you for taking the time to explain further. I have never been in that situation. Actually, in my 20 years in the Church, I have always found it odd that the RS Presidency always seems to be running things while the men just step back and let it happen, whether its being done well or not. Obviously, my experience has been very different from others’, so I really don’t have anything to contribute here.
    Tracy Polyak recently posted…Spell to Write and Read: Two Years LaterMy Profile

  • Tracy Polyak December 16, 2012, 2:54 pm

    BTW,
    Our Sunday School went 15 minutes over (cutting into Sacrament Meeting) because the teacher decided to further his personal agenda on this topic. And this is the problem that I have with this whole event. It fosters a feeling that individuals can unilaterally preempt the meeting schedule to further their own ideas (on any topic).
    Tracy Polyak recently posted…Spell to Write and Read: Two Years LaterMy Profile

  • jennycherie December 16, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Tracy – I see your point, but I think it might as well be termed questioning as rebelling. The protest, yes, does seem rebellious, but as a church that was born out of a young man’s question and that encourages every member to have their own testimony, we should encourage and support questioning. I don’t mind wearing skirts, but I don’t like making an issue of it when someone else wears pants. And now it bothers me more that it’s an issue if the church’s official position is, essentially, we don’t want to focus on what people wear, we want to focus on growing closer to the Savior. That is a position I can completely embrace, even if it seems contrary to the practice and culture of our church. I want this to be the way our culture evolves. So even though I think the spokesperson to the church was inaccurate (in saying that we don’t counsel people beyond wearing what they have that is best), I hope that is what we become.
    jennycherie recently posted…Joy to the WorldMy Profile

  • jennycherie December 16, 2012, 3:21 pm

    Crumb – it won’t let me edit my post! That came out a little scattered – oh well. I can see the rebelliousness of having a planned day to wear pants – BUT, according to the church’s official statement it actually isn’t rebellious at all. The idea of having the pants day does vaguely remind me of the “Women Who Know” debacle, but with that in mind, I think we have to hang in there, do our best and let the church continue to find ways to evolve with our culture while staying true to our doctrine. 100 years ago, it might have been scandalous to wear the knee length skirts that are considered appropriate now!
    jennycherie recently posted…Joy to the WorldMy Profile

  • Tracy Polyak December 16, 2012, 3:34 pm

    I don’t know that the original intent was rebellious. It sounds to me that the organizers had good intentions. I don’t get the feeling that they intended to replace portions of my ward’s Sunday School lesson and Sacrament Meeting. But this is exactly the sort of thing that people who have rebellious feelings will grab on to and run with.
    Tracy Polyak recently posted…Spell to Write and Read: Two Years LaterMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 16, 2012, 3:45 pm

    MB, thank you for the comment. Also appreciate the input of everyone here.

    Tracy Keeney:

    If sisters “want to be heard” they can write letters. If this just a matter of “common sense”– then again, they can write letters to headquarters explaining their reasoning.

    For years we have been formally told NOT to write letters to general leaders or headquarters. To whom do we direct a letter of concern?

    In my adult life, I can think of four letters I have written about church issues:

    (1) To the bishop in the ward I attended when I served in YW. The YM were given THOUSANDS of dollars for camp and the YW were given ZERO dollars (from the sale of some surplus scrap metal from some old church room dividers). This occurred even though the YM (under the guise of scouting) can have unlimited fundraisers — not the least of which is an adult member of the ward who goes family to family asking for Friends of Scouting “donations” — and the YW were officially limited (in the handbook) to one fundraiser per year.

    The responses I got were:

    “Oh.”

    “We didn’t think of the Young Women.”

    Discussion closed.

    (2) I wrote to a full-time seminary teacher who in May of 2012 told my 15-year-old’s class (and probably all his other classes for the past 35 years (he was one of MY seminary teacher’s too)) that women had to be in polygamist marriages in order to be in the celestial kingdom. I gave him sources to the contrary and explained that such teachings can be very problematic.

    The response I got was:

    (3) I wrote a letter to the bishop, asking if something on Tuesday nights could be modified. Our current schedule was:

    4:00–5:00 Cub Scouts
    5:30–6:30 11-year-old Scouts
    7:00–8:30 Mutual

    We — and a number of other families — had children and/or adults in ALL THREE groups. With travel, there was no time to have a family meal, scriptures, etc., that we try hard to keep sacred. I gave a couple of possibilities, such as having 11-year-olds meet at the same time as mutual, etc.

    The response I got was:

    (4) Years ago I wrote a letter to a former bishop. A member of his ward had spread some damaging and utterly fabricated gossip about someone in our family. I had tried to address the person directly, with no response. As the scriptures say, I was next to go to the bishop. I did, hoping to at least open a discussion. (To be clear, the liar was a man.)

    The response I got was:

    So, yes, you can write letters, only to local leaders. But in my experience — and that of many, many other people — the results are negligible.

    to show up to Sacrament meeting deliberately dressed opposite of the way they’ve been asked to dress is outright rebellion.

    According to the church material AND the their specific response to this issue, the Church does not “ask” women to wear dresses.

    I’d have to know more about these women to decide whether or not I agree with that label.

    I think it’s very problematic to label someone as in “outright rebellious” because they want to have their concerns addressed. It occurs to me that these people are discontent and are questioning, but they WANT to remain in the church. Maybe we should HELP them to feel that their thoughts are valuable.

    I am absolutely positive that everyone here has voiced concerns in the church about a calling, a situation, or something else. The problem is that when we voice our concerns, they seem completely reasonable and appropriate. But when someone else voices a concern we don’t agree with, they seem marginal or silly or unworthy of being addressed.

    I just don’t think that’s fair or right. I might not have the same issue, but I don’t think that means we dismiss other’s issues.

    I added a couple of new links to the top of the “other posts” list above. I thought both Rosalynde and Sarah were VERY well-spoken and VERY circumspect in their responses. I don’t agree with them on every point, but I thought they were very insightful.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Relative Privation – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 16, 2012, 4:11 pm

    Tracy Polyak, I wasn’t referring to your comment way up there. I was referring to Tracy Keeney referencing the cold weather. I was trying to point out it was MY statement, not theirs.

    *I* think it’s dumb to have to wear dresses in the snow. It’s been lightly snowing all day here. Today in Relief Society there was an elderly woman on the back row who had a blanket around her shoulders and ANOTHER on her lap.

    But, I know, I know, she should have pulled on some sweat pants under her dress!

    P.S. The young women all came out of class today saying they were going to wear sweats under their skirts next week. And they don’t know anything about this issue.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…7 Christmas Advent CalendarsMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 16, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Wanted to note something. Wearing dresses isn’t remotely doctrinal. It’s cultural. Hoping for — and yes, even advocating — cultural change isn’t evil or apostate.

    And when a group is harmed or marginalized by a cultural issue — and we don’t allow those who feel that harm to even speak up or air their concerns — we drive people away. Absolutely.

    That doesn’t mean we have to change policy or even practice to accommodate every whim. But when you have large (and growing) groups of people who feel outcast, we all have a problem. We DO need to listen.

    Blacks and the priesthood, meetings schedules, endowment/initiatory content, garment styles, lesson material, etc. etc. etc. were all changed due tot he fact that LEADERS became aware of the issues of MEMBERS. It wasn’t poofed on them. They heard it with regular human ears from regular human mouths.

    Cultural shift.

    Over a year ago the dress standards for sister missionaries changed. They no longer had to wear nylons (one subject we debated here a few years back), they no longer had to wear mid-calf skirts, colorful clothing and accessories were ENCOURAGED. Why? Because church leaders HEARD some pretty common sense info. What was it? The sisters were seen as dowdy and backwards and it turned people off.

    Cultural shift.

    There have been ENORMOUS changes in the official church approach to homosexuality over the recent past. Those changes had nothing to do with the prophet one day reading his scriptures and having gays and lesbians popping into his head. It came because our leaders had HEARD all the protests, all the rhetoric, all the news, all the blogs. The concerns of others became known to them.

    I wish we could get to the point where church members — EVEN WOMEN — could speak openly without being castigated, told they are out of place, seeking position, or rebellious.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Best Toys RoundupMy Profile

  • lisa December 16, 2012, 4:53 pm

    I’m not about to wear pants to church, but I have sympathy for these women. I’m totally content as a typical “molly mormon” even though I don’t like that phrase, but I have a sister who is very different from me. She is just as good a person but she has a hard time fitting in the mormon mold.

    When she lived in Utah and went to graduate school at BYU, she felt more accepted in being who she was. She’s now splat in the middle of the country and feels very alienated.

    I wish people would realize that you don’t have to have the same problem to care for others.

  • martinoo December 16, 2012, 4:55 pm

    I’ve been reading this around the blogs and on Facebook discussions. Pretty depressing how many people think they have the right to call these women down.

    In my house, you can talk about things that bother you, even if you’re a woman and no one says you are rebellious.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 16, 2012, 10:16 pm

    martinoo, I agree that the response has been often horrendous. But I actually do think you might say your kids were rebellious, depending on what they did. Right?

    I don’t inherently have a problem with someone using the term “rebellious.” I just think it’s too easy to use the term when we disagree with someone’s conclusion, and too easy to see our own concerns as completely legitimate and appropriate. In other words, I think very careful application is required.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Best Gifts: College Finals Survival KitsMy Profile

  • Kirt Stockwell December 17, 2012, 1:52 am

    Pardon, and I hope it is alright for a man to post here. I want to make an observation. The original event has nothing to do with pants, and actually little to do with women having a “voice” in the Church.
    The fact of that matter is that NONE of us have the kind of VOICE in the Church that this group is looking for. You will have noticed the extremes of hostility during the conversations. That is EXACTLY the point of those that started this movement.
    We know from the scriptures that in the end times the Church will begin to be divided, and that at some point Heavenly Father will have to take action to cleanse America, and that the cleansing will start within the Church.

    It is all too clear that there are individuals, even groups in some wards that have as their object not the righteous, humble worship required by Heavenly Father, but are instead motivated by possibly another source. Satan has many ways to get at the hearts of the Saints, and an issue like this is perfect for Satan to use.

    I respectfully submit that this issue truly reveals a group of people within the Church that have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what it is that Heavenly Father is requiring of us if we wish to return to the Celestial precincts. As for me, it is all I can do to be humble and prayerful, to serve and LOVE my fellow man (particularly my Church family) and to make myself worthy each week to partake of the Sacrament. I believe it may benefit some of these agitators to spend less time sewing discord and more time studying what it is they claim to believe.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2012, 2:13 am

    Hi, Kirt. Men are welcome. :)

    Sure the event had something to do with pants. But the pants were symbolic. They were a way to make a statement about culture WITHOUT breaking any rules. As the church said, they do NOT have a rule against women wearing pants.

    I don’t know these women remotely well enough to agree with the claims you are making. I don’t know them at all. But I’m guessing you don’t either.

    Thing is, you may believe that you can barely manage to by humble and prayerful, to serve and love, etc., but you managed to come here to tell off these women you don’t know. Not just tell them off, but to render extreme judgement about what they should be doing and who is controlling them. Think about that is for a minute.

    We all recognize that not every many is the prophet or even the bishop. But ours is a patriarchal church. That means something. I don’t necessarily believe that it shouldn’t be, but I can say that patriarchy has inherent problems (just as matriarchy would) that need to be carefully managed. If we don’t acknowledge that need, it won’t be met. And men have the active voice in the church. Period.

    A couple of years ago I wrote a post asking if gender matters. In a nutshell, the church says that men and women are inherently and eternally different. My question is whether or not a single-gender leadership can adequately address the needs (or even understand the needs) or those who are so vastly different?

    I suppose one of the oddest things to me is that even members my age and older seem to have selective amnesia. We well remember when blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood. But now that things actually changed, we seem to forget how the church position was justified and how those who “agitated” for change were demonized — until the change happened. Poof. Magically now those “agitators” were just thoughtful, fair-minded people who loved everyone. Or something.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…To My Kids: I’m Sorry for the Political TragedyMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2012, 2:20 am

    Just noticed a great comment on one of the posts linked to above. It was by James Olsen, another perm on T&S. He said:

    Finally, just wanted to report that I was absolutely delighted to hear my Stake President give an impassioned comment in Elders Quorum that our widespread, accepted cultural practices can be completely out of line with the gospel of Christ without our even recognizing it (he used a very effective local example), and then pled that we have greater love and compassion, especially for those in our midst who feel ostracized or alienated – and the whole focus of the lesson was on this general theme.

    Amen.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Chosen MeMy Profile

  • Tracy Keeney December 17, 2012, 7:04 pm

    Pardonmoi– no, trying to have a voice, in not rebellion. You can have a voice, and have your say, by writing a letter to church headquarters and saying all you want. The “rebellion” comes in when you deliberately do, what you KNOW you’ve been asked not to do and putting in people’s faces. (And really, the point is to put in priesthood leaderships’, faces, right?)
    When a teacher and student are disagreeing, and the teacher asks the student to please stop cursing and to use clean language while they’re talking, and the student turns around and says “F-you, b—-”. That’s rebellion. (Only using this as an example because it’s exactly the situation that one of my coworkers told us happened between her son and a teacher last week.) Deliberately doing, to her face, what he was asked not to do is rebellion. It’s “you can’t tell me what to do” , an “in your face” kind of point, that’s rebellion.
    Same kid, wanting to go to a party— told they can’t go. Maybe mom and dad’s reasoning is irrational. Maybe mom and dad are misjudging the party, maybe the friends aren’t “bad kids”– who knows. But if mom and dad say no– we don’t want you to go to that party, and the kid goes to the party– that’s rebellion.
    What’s the difference between those things and what we’re talking about?
    Women have been instructed that appropriate dress for church is dresses and skirts. You might disagree. Fine. Make your argument. But showing up at church in pants to protest and make sure everyone knows you disagree, is exactly the same “in your face” kind of behavior, that turning around and cussing at the teacher is. It’s deliberate disobedience to make a point.
    Jenn– questioning a teaching is totally different that deliberately doing the OPPOSITE of the teaching to demonstrate that you disagree with it. Quoting: “The protest, yes, does seem rebellious, but as a church that was born out of a young man’s question and that encourages every member to have their own testimony, we should encourage and support questioning.” Again, questioning is totally different than what we’re discussing here. Using your own example of a questioning Joseph– what was the instruction given to his question? To go to NONE of the churches. Joseph could have asked sincere questions about that instructions without being rebellious. But what WOULD have been the rebellious response to the instruction he was given? Deliberately doing the OPPOSITE of what he was instructed.

  • Tracy Keeney December 17, 2012, 7:15 pm

    ” BUT, according to the church’s official statement it actually isn’t rebellious at all.”

    Sure it is. If you’ve been told by priesthood authority, “This is what we want you to do. This is what we expect of you. This is what the Lord expects of you” And you say, “Well, I disagree and I’m going to do ______”, that’s rebellious. Just because what you’ve been told isn’t necessarily REQUIRED, doesn’t mean that disregarding it isn’t rebellious. The church’s statement was the same thing as Joseph Smith saying “We teach correct principles, and the people govern themselves.” If the principle is “correct” and you’re doing the opposite….

  • jennycherie December 17, 2012, 7:30 pm

    Here is what I find confusing – if my bishop says, “wear a skirt to Sunday meetings and mid-week meetings,” but the church spokesman (who I assume says what the First Presidency tells him to say) says, “Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that,” who wins? Which answer is correct?

    The same issue has come up in our ward regarding immigration. The church’s official statement (which, like the pants vs. skirts issue, seems to be good for PR but contradictory to the practice of our church) is that illegal immigrants have committed a civil trespass, but nothing that affects their worthiness. In actual practice, entering a country and living there illegally involves all sorts of dishonesty and law-breaking and is, in my experience, very much an issue of worthiness. In my experience, bishops and stake presidents don’t like to permit the church to assist (with welfare/food orders) when a ward member is also an illegal immigrant.

    On a related issue, I was talking to a sister who received some pretty wacked out counsel from her bishop. It wasn’t specifically for her. Apparently he has a pet cause and he questions all his ward members about this issue. It directly contradicts church-wide statements. What to do?

  • jennycherie December 17, 2012, 7:33 pm

    now I read my comment and it doesn’t make sense like I wanted to – my point was, if a bishop gives counsel that contradicts an official statement from church headquarters, is he in rebellion or is he receiving revelation specific to his ward?

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2012, 7:36 pm

    Women have been instructed that appropriate dress for church is dresses and skirts. You might disagree. Fine. Make your argument.

    LDS church spokesman Scott Trotter (in response to this very issue), “Attending Church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally Church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that.”

    So, there you go. The latest official word. The don’t command or coerce. They don’t even COUNSEL beyond that.

    Personally, I have never had anyone with “priesthood authority” (unless you’re just talking about ANY man with the priesthood who posts on public forums, which I don’t consider authority that matters to me) tell me he wants me to wear a dress. And even then none of them have ever told me that that’s what the Lord expects of me.

    Skirts/dresses are 100% cultural. They have 0% to do with doctrine or the gospel. I don’t advocate disregarding culture, but that’s a slight tangent to the issue at hand.

    Just because what you’ve been told isn’t necessarily REQUIRED, doesn’t mean that disregarding it isn’t rebellious.

    Holy cow.

  • Tracy Polyak December 17, 2012, 7:47 pm

    I am confused about what exactly the issue is. Apparently, it is not really about pants v. skirts. I thought the event had something to do with how LDS men’s view of women was not in reality what the church teaches about men and women being equal. So was wearing pants in Sunday Meetings a protest to men having authority over women? Or is it a protest against authority generally? If the concern is about what local leaders say v. what the Church’s official teaching is, this is not a gender issue. This problem will always exist, whether the leader is a man or a woman.

    So what exactly is it that the organizers of this event want to see changed? Clearly they want to see an attitude change, but how do they envision that happening? How are they hoping the Church’s general and local authorities will respond? Does it end there? Are they hoping that women will be able to serve in more leadership positions? Do they want women to receive the priesthood? It all seems very vague to me.
    Tracy Polyak recently posted…Help for My Distractible ChildMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2012, 9:05 pm

    my point was, if a bishop gives counsel that contradicts an official statement from church headquarters, is he in rebellion or is he receiving revelation specific to his ward?

    Good question, jennycherie.

    I don’t think you can identify rebellion based on behavior alone. For example, if I’ve been told not to drink alcohol and I drink it thinking it’s juice, I’m not rebelling.

    So I guess my answer is:

    If you bishop knows the church’s position, and chooses to give more specific counsel, he might be rebelling. In this case in particular, the counsel isn’t just minimal, the statement specifies that the church does NOT give MORE counsel. So you might have a case for that.

    Generally speaking, I’d say if a bishop CONTRADICTS church policy, it’s wrong. (Whether or not it’s rebellion is a more difficult judgment.) In many cases, however, the church gives general counsel, suggestions, etc., that are specifically done to ALLOW individualization.

    When the church counsels us to stay home with our kids or to be married or avoid divorce, etc., it’s done with the understanding that not everyone can (or should) follow this GENERAL counsel. When a bishop counsels someone in this regard, they have leeway to give personal advice. When an individual makes a decision in this regard, they have leeway to make a personal decision.

  • Tracy Keeney December 17, 2012, 10:53 pm

    “Here is what I find confusing – if my bishop says, “wear a skirt to Sunday meetings and mid-week meetings,” but the church spokesman (who I assume says what the First Presidency tells him to say) says, “Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that,” who wins? Which answer is correct? ”

    Well, now you’re talking about local priesthood leaders (who have lesser authority) making decisions BEYOND the instruction of our higher priesthood leadership. Which is a little different. However, not all things like that are “wrong” per se. For some issues, things are left up to Bishopric discretion. Is this something you’ve discussed with him? Have you voiced your concerns? I know that can be a little unsettling– you want to ask, but are afraid of how it might look. But like you said, sincere questioning isn’t rebellion. AND as a auxiliary leader, you can certainly express to the Bishop your feelings on the matter.
    Knowing your Bishop as I do, I wouldn’t doubt that his purpose is to create more reverence. If your ward is starting to have a lot of people showing up “casual” on Sundays, and there’s alot of rowdiness or flippant behavior during weekday activities, then he might think an “overhaul” is needed. Not saying I agree with it– but that may be his intention. I just know HIM, you know what I mean? Although– a point to consider, and I don’t know the answer– is he asking the MEN and Young Men to “dress up” a bit for mid-week activities too? Or is it just the women? THERE’S the question. Again– I know your Bishop well. :)
    Example– when a letter containing policy information clarifies to local leadership that all worthy members, male and female can open and close meetings with prayer, and a local leader disregards the letter and runs his meetings under the idea that “only a prieshood holder” can open sacrament meeting, HE is the one being rebellious. (Assuming he received the letter.)
    However, local leaders ARE given latitude on several matters and ARE allowed to make decisions within their scope of stewardship– things are often left up to their discretion, using the spirit as a guide.
    Example: The church handbook of instructions says encourages the use of the hymns for choir and other special musical numbers, but says that (and I’m just summarizing here, don’t remember word for word) anything that is doctrinally correct and has music that is SUITABLE for the reverent and sacred nature of sacrament meeting can be approved for use by the Bishop, and used for choir and special musical numbers. BUT, it’s one of those things that’s left up to his discretion. And the Stake has the same discretion.
    In our particular Stake, our Stake President has decided that we aren’t to use ANY music that isn’t in the Hymnbook or Children’s songbook. Not even hymn’s that USE to be in the hymnbook or songs that have been included in the Children’s sacrament meeting presentation– so we can’t do “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, “If the Savior Stood Beside Me”– not even “This is The Christ”– written by a First Presidency member and one of the most “testimony building” hymns ever written (in my opinion). Clearly, all three songs are completely appropriate for Sacrament meeting– lyrically and musically. “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” was PUT in the Sacrament meeting presentation by general authority members. Clearly, if it wasn’t appropriate for sacrament meeting, they wouldn’t have included it. But in our particular Stake, our Stake president has given a firm and unchanging “no” to anything that isn’t in the hymn book or Children’s songbook. Do I agree with it? Absolutely NOT. I think he’s 100% wrong. Honestly, I think it’s laziness. I think he doesn’t want to have to mess with it– one Bishop might think something is appropriate when it really isn’t, one ward might be upset that another ward’s Bishop let’s them sing ______ (insert your non-hymn book song of choice) but their ward Bishop won’t, or maybe he doesn’t want the Bishop’s to have to monitor special musical numbers period because they have enough to do already, and thinks that giving a strict “no” to anything outside of his given parameters will spare them the extra work. I don’t know. One way or another, I think it boils down to simply not wanting to have to “mess” with it. anotherI think he’s 100% wrong. Clearly, there are many songs in the Children’s songbook — “wiggle” songs, etc that aren’t appropriate for Sacrament meeting. But there are MANY hymns not in our hymn book, many other choral works and sacred music that are even MORE appropriate than some of the hymns that ARE in the hymn book.
    “Scatter Sunshine”??? Really? If THAT’s appropriate for a Sacrament meeting, then how many times MORE appropriate is “If the Savior Stood Beside Me?” or “Crown Him With Many Crowns” or “This is The Christ”?
    Our previous Bishop (don’t know about our new one yet) ALSO disagreed, BUT in order to be obedient, we’ve been instructed us to follow the direction of the Stake.
    And I know, if I were to ask the prophet himself about the whole thing, he’d tell me to just be obedient. And here’s why– it’s not going to HURT me, or our ward, for us not be able to sing a particular song I’d love to do. Sure, we miss out on the beautiful words and music— but the spirit is brought in by MANY hymns, including the plethora already included in our hymnbook.
    Another decision made at the Stake level. At stake youth activities– this includes camp, casual dances, outdoor activities, youth conference, etc– there are NO shorts, and NO capris. Even in 110degree weather, the kids have to wear full length pants. Why? Again, I think it’s laziness. (Maybe that’s not the right word… help me out, here.) I think he doesn’t want to have to “Mess” with it– you know– if the leaders say the girls can wear capris, then there’s always the girl who will show up in knee length shorts, or shorts even shorter than that. And instead of having to mess with all that, and telling some girl she has to go home and change because her capris aren’t really “capris”, but are shorts, the Stake Pres. just said– “Okay– fine. No shorts or capris at ALL. Full length pants no matter what, then we don’t have to deal with it.” Again, I disagree with it. And my kids KNOW I disagree with it– the church’s standard of dress as described in the FTSOY pamphlet IS the church’s standard for dress, and that’s good enough for me. I think our Stake’s OVERLY strict standard is ridiculous. BUT, I’ve also told my kids, that it’s more important to be obedient, than to agree with everything. It’s the same thing with school stuff– the school says “no flip-flops”– and I think it’s stupid. But that’s the rule, and the kids need to obey it. Whether I or they agree with it or not, is irrevelant. Now, if they want to try and CHANGE that rule– there are appropriate ways to attempt that. But there’s no way I’d let my kids participate in a protest, by showing up to school in flip-flops, essentially saying to the teachers, “stick THIS in your face”.

  • Tracy Keeney December 17, 2012, 11:14 pm

    “Attending Church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally Church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that.”

    So, there you go. The latest official word. The don’t command or coerce. They don’t even COUNSEL beyond that.

    I’ll say it again. That statement is the same thing as saying “We teach correct principles, and the people govern themselves.” The church has taught over and over and over again- I could link probably 20 or 30 conference talks, lessons from manuals etc that all talk about what constitutes appropriate Sabbath day dress. We have been taught how we’re expected to dress– and we have the agency to follow that direction or not. It’s really that simple.

  • Tracy Keeney December 17, 2012, 11:17 pm

    “Attending Church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally Church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that.”

    So, there you go. The latest official word. The don’t command or coerce. They don’t even COUNSEL beyond that.

    I’ll say it again. That statement is the same thing as saying “We teach correct principles, and the people govern themselves.” The church has taught over and over and over again- I could link probably 20 or 30 conference talks, lessons from manuals etc that all talk about what constitutes appropriate Sabbath day dress. You know that, Alison. We have been taught how we’re expected to dress– and we have the agency to follow that direction or not.

    Correct priniciple taught.
    Agency to govern ourselves acknowledged.
    It’s really that simple.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2012, 11:52 pm

    Then let’s looks at the statements. Link up to a dozen or so that specify appropriate dress is dresses and let’s look see they say and why they somehow supersede what was said last week on the matter.

    Tracy, here’s the thing. The church was asked specifically if women were supposed to wear pants. The church spokesman said the ONLY counsel is to encourage best clothing. Period.

    I don’t know how you can turn that into: and that means you’re supposed to look at manuals from 1978 and see that that REALLY means dresses — but I’m not going to say it now for PR purposes or something — and so you can wear whatever you want, but if you don’t wear a dress you are rebellious.

    To whom was this “correct principle” taught? Is it still taught?

    To me this harkens a bit to the sacrament with the right hand stuff. About 20 years ago a woman in my Boca ward had a coronary infarction because some new converts were taking the sacrament with their left hands. She approached me and said we needed to correct the situation.

    So, I went to the missionary discussions — which said nothing about the right hand. Then I went to the Gospel Principles manual — which said nothing about the right hand. In fact, I could find NOTHING current that taught that principle (that I had been taught and I had taught my kids). In other words, if it was REALLY a vital part of living the gospel, correlation had TOTALLY dropped the ball, because it wasn’t available ANYWHERE in church teaching unless you count other members who are watching how converts take the sacrament.

    My take is that correlation did NOT drop the ball but, rather, that it was simply dropped from the gospel practice and was no longer considered an issue.

    Same with the “garments next to the skin” that was taught in generations BEFORE mine, along with myriad other non-doctrinal practices that did not need to be enforced or even taught.

    Do you remember the discussion we had on here a few years back? You insisted on pantyhose being appropriate and I pointed out some things that seemed to point otherwise. Like pictures on the front of the New Era with no hose. And then the sister missionaries weren’t even required to wear them.

    I sincerely think non-doctrinal, cultural things can (and will and do) change all the time. I mean do you dress as Brigham Young demanded of the Retrenchment Society? (I know you don’t, because I’ve seen pictures. :) And neither of our gorgeous 80s wedding sleeves would have passed muster. :) ) But I’m guessing that counsel was never officially rescinded — just like the others weren’t. They are just dropped and we move on.

    If the correct principle is dresses only and the church spokesman is going out saying WE SAY NOTHING other than best clothing — that’s a huge problem. It’s misleading, to say the least and certainly unfair. In order to follow through with what you claim is “correct procedure” you’ve got to insist that members all over the world find these past sources, understand them, parse the meaning within their own cultures, and believe them to be current IN SPITE of Trotter’s statement to the contrary.

    Generally speaking, I think simplest answer is the correct answer. I believe that what Trotter said is the truth, without parsing or conditions or exceptions or add ons. Just straight up. They encourage best dress. Period.

  • Tracy Keeney December 18, 2012, 12:10 am

    Sorry– that posted twice somehow.

    I also meant to respond to this point, Alison.

    “Over a year ago the dress standards for sister missionaries changed. They no longer had to wear nylons (one subject we debated here a few years back), they no longer had to wear mid-calf skirts, colorful clothing and accessories were ENCOURAGED. Why? Because church leaders HEARD some pretty common sense info. What was it? The sisters were seen as dowdy and backwards and it turned people off.

    Cultural shift………….

    …….I wish we could get to the point where church members — EVEN WOMEN — could speak openly without being castigated, told they are out of place, seeking position, or rebellious.”

    You’ve noted, I hope, that I never said that DESIRING to be able to wear pants, asking about it, discussing it, etc was rebellious. I also never suggested that wearing pants to church was something evil and that the current standard could never be changed.
    But take those sister missionaries you just talked about. They were given a standard of dress, WHICH they obeyed. Discussion was had, suggestions were made, apparently questions of the public were made, and between all of that CHANGES were made.
    But if a group of sister missionaries, on their own, decided that the standard set was wrong, overly restrictive, and that wearing jeans as they were going door to door would make them seem more “down to earth”, more “approachable”, on more “equal footing” with the person who would most likely answer the door also wearing jeans– (none of which are illogical thoughts at all) and therefore decided that would make a “united front” to make their point, and show up to the next Zone Conference wearing jeans, (when they’ve been told what they SHOULD wear, and KNOW they’re suppose to come in their skirts or dresses)– it would have been rebellious of them to do so.

    As a side note– has it occurred to anyone that the “men” of the church ALSO are expected to follow the counsel of the “men” of the church? Maybe they should “question” the facial hair thing. My husband hates having to shave all the time. All those nicks and cuts. Maybe all the men should show up to church in purple shirts, no ties, long hair and beards to protest the dress and grooming standard THEY’VE been given.
    Let’s not forget who’s heading up this “wear pants to church” thing. I can just see what will be next…. BESIDES the “I want to be ordained” thing….
    “I want to wear pants in the temple, too. Why should I have to wear a dress THERE, either? The MEN can wear pants, why can’t I? Kneeling at the alter would be so much easier in a pair of pants, instead of having to pull up the skirt of my dress a little everytime I kneel. And I have to wear a dress AND a slip? UGH! It’s hot! Why do WE have to wear an extra layer and the guys don’t? And you know what? I like what they wear on their heads better than what I have to wear. Why can’t I wear what THEY’RE wearing? Do you know how hard it is for me to keep that thing on my head? It keeps sliding off, and the ties around my chin are so uncomfortable. And you know– there’s a certain part of the endowment, where I do something with my head covering, that the men don’t have to do. Why do “i” have to do that and THEY don’t? Just something else to remind me of how I’m “unequal” to them.”
    ….I can see it coming.

  • Tracy Keeney December 18, 2012, 12:26 am

    “The church spokesman said the ONLY counsel is to encourage best clothing. Period.”

    Yes, and “best clothing” has been described several times over– even pretty darn recently– so we’re not talking about talks from the 1950′s. It’s after midnight, and I have to be up at 5. But I’ll post some of the links and/or quotes tomorrow– well, later today. :)

  • pardonmoi December 18, 2012, 1:24 am

    Tracey, Trotter said there was _no_ other counsel. Deal.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 18, 2012, 1:41 am

    Tracy, here is my problem with your position. You understand and agree that, when asked SPECIFICALLY whether or not women SHOULD wear dresses to church, Trotter said they do NOT counsel beyond the “best clothing.”

    But you insist that Trotter was being intentionally obtuse. Why?

    You think he KNEW that “best clothing” really MEANT dresses —because it’s been taught somewhere in the past and you believe it still holds true — but he wouldn’t just say “yup, women should wear dresses to church”?

    Instead of being straightforward and clear, he spun the answer. No, no. We don’t dictate to our women. We give VERY general counsel — and no more — and they decide.

    But he KNEW that any “choice” other than dresses was “outright rebellion.” He just wouldn’t SAY it. Why?

    Was it so we’d look more hip to the world? Was it a test to show which members understand the “unwritten order of things”? Was it to detect who was up-to-date on Mark E. Petersen quotes in old Young Women manuals? Was it to see who was “in tune” enough to divine the proper “best clothing” selections? Was it because there is some quota about referencing principle before the “teach them correct principles” timeline expires, and we must move into the “govern themselves” phase? (And when does that apply to the PORN TALKS?????)

    Honestly, if past statements referring to dresses are still in force and that’s the standard, why not just be honest about it? Why would Trotter give the politician’s answer? Was he told to use weasel words? By whom?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Argumentum Ad Hominem – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner December 18, 2012, 6:06 am

    “As a side note– has it occurred to anyone that the “men” of the church ALSO are expected to follow the counsel of the “men” of the church? Maybe they should “question” the facial hair thing. My husband hates having to shave all the time. All those nicks and cuts. Maybe all the men should show up to church in purple shirts, no ties, long hair and beards to protest the dress and grooming standard THEY’VE been given.”

    I haven’t had access to a handbook in awhile, but is this really counsel? I know lots of good men with facial hair. I know BYU has (or had?) the no facial hair rule but other than that I didn’t think so.

  • MB December 18, 2012, 7:14 am

    Currently facial hair guidelines are in place for
    missionaries
    temple workers (set apart “veil workers” are exempted)
    students at church schools whose dress codes currently prohibit them
    some church employee positions

    Your bishop, stake president, or anyone else can grow all the facial hair he wishes without concern that he’s acting in opposition to any church counsel.

  • martinoo December 18, 2012, 10:34 am

    I apologize for being a bit short earlier. Such discussions are upsetting to me.

    In thinking about what Alison said in comment #53, I think Tracy is misapplying a prophetic statement.

    Joseph Smith did say, “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” But no where in our doctrine does it say, “Teach them correct principles once and then if they ask for information later withhold it so they can govern themselves.” And no where does it say, “Teach correct principles once in history and then if someone new comes along make them figure it out so they can govern themselves.”

    The church spokesman was asked a direct question to clarify church policy for the public, members and nonmembers alike. He said their was no counsel except Sunday best. If that is some kind of code word for “suits/ties and dresses,” then the answer was dishonest.

  • Angie Gardner December 18, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Thanks MB. I asked my husband ( who is a temple worker) this morning and that was his understanding as well.

  • Cal December 18, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I admit that I routinely take the sacrament with my left hand. And in some peoples view, it could be seen as rebellion – because I do it intentionally to make a point. Which is, that we don’t need to get caught up in practices that have no basis in official doctrine.

    I was fully in support of the ‘wear pants to church’ event, because I have taken the time to try and understand how some women feel less than equal in their roles and their treatment. To me, it’s perfectly fine to question why we do things. I would love to see things change for the better.

    A few weeks ago my wife was called to serve as a RS secretary. But just before her meeting with the Bishop, he met with me first to ask if I was ok with her being called and if I would support her in this calling. Now whether this is a policy or not, I don’t know, but I don’t think believe that it should be done this way.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 18, 2012, 4:04 pm

    Cal, here is the current handbook reference to extending callings:

    The Chart of Callings outlines who may extend each calling. After receiving the necessary approvals, an authorized leader conducts a personal interview to determine the member’s faithfulness and willingness to serve. If the member is willing, the leader extends the calling. The leader may invite the spouse of a married person to be present and give support when the calling is extended.

    I have NO problem with a spouse being asked to lend support. No matter which has the calling, the entire family ends up contributing. In fact, I think it’s a very wise revision.

    Years ago the policy for callings to men was to extend the calling to the man and he chose to accept or not. The policy for extending callings to married women was to ask for the husband’s permission. Upon that approval, the calling was extended to the woman. Ack!

    To me, this isn’t a sinister case of church sexism, it’s an artifact of cultural sexism. And when the inherent problems became aware to the general leadership (again, likely because people spoke up about it), it was modified. Now the policy seems reasonable and sensible. As long as leaders actually follow it as written, it should work well.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…A Sad and Tragic Day for Our Nation – A Response to Jo AshlineMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 19, 2012, 10:55 pm

    What should I wear?

    You’re welcome to wear any modest clothes that you feel comfortable in. But just so you know, most men wear suits, sport coats and shirts and ties, and women wear dresses or skirts. Children also typically dress up.

    Below is a bit from a New Era, 1974 Q&A. The part with quotation marks is quoting an official First Presidency 1971 statement. What I find interesting about this statement is that at the time it was an extremely liberal position! In 1971, I was still required to wear a dress to public school every day! Yet the church was less dictatorial, even inside that culture.

    I suppose two of the most frequently asked questions that I receive in my contacts with girls and adult leaders throughout the Church are: “When and where can girls wear pants?” “Do they have to change into dresses for certain activities?”

    Very frequently we find adult leaders and youth in disagreement about the appropriateness and acceptability of dress. It is easy to forget that what is acceptable for one may not be for another.

    “The Church has not attempted to indicate just how long women’s or girls’ dresses should be nor whether they should wear pant suits or other types of clothing. We have always counseled our members to be modest in their dress, maintaining such standards in connection therewith as would not be embarrassing to themselves and to their relatives, friends, and associates.

    “We have advised our people that when going to the temple they should not wear slacks or miniskirts, or otherwise dress immodestly. We have not, however, felt it wise or necessary to give instructions on this subject relative to attendance at our Church meetings, although we do feel that on such occasions they should have in mind that they are in the house of the Lord and should conduct themselves accordingly.”

    Apparently the current church position has been the position for decades. Interesting.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…7 Christmas Advent CalendarsMy Profile

  • chinnott December 20, 2012, 7:01 am

    There’s nothing wrong with wearing pants if you wear nice pants. There’s nothing that says clothing with no legs is nicer than clothing with legs.

    And don’t you know that men insist on skirts because they are sexy and make women vulnerable?

  • harlie December 20, 2012, 7:47 am

    I was thinking the same thing Tracy Keeney, so I hope she will post the links she’s talking about so I can read them at young womens on Sunday.

    But I wonder about teaching them correct principles. We don’t stop teaching correct principles and we always tell people what they are when they ask. Don’t we? If we talk about reading scriptures in beehives and the maimaids ask about reading scriptures I don’t tell them, “you can read whatever you like as long as it’s good.” and then say “well I already taught them, so they have to decide if they will obey or not.”

  • Tracy Keeney December 21, 2012, 9:45 am

    Sorry folks– I said I post some links the next day, but I’ve spent the past couple days knee deep in a bunch of sewing I have to get done by tomorrow, so I haven’t kept up with the conversation.
    A quick search at LDS.org will reveal a rather lengthy list of references to wearing our “Sunday best” (which, yes Alison, is a “cultural” thing. Great talks about THAT by the way too– “The Gospel Culture” and “Repentence and Change” ). There are quotes about how we’ve forgotten what “Sunday Best” means and that we’re getting too informal. Members of the church KNOW what “sunday best” means that means–we know they are referring to dresses and skirts for women. It’s just like the “white shirt” thing for guys. It’s not “commanded” or “required”, but suggested over and over again– and I think it’s a talk by Elder Christoffersen that say “shirts and ties, (preferably white)” or something like that.
    I know for sure that the “Worship With Us” invitation to non-members on the site says that the men generally wear “suits or nice pants and ties”, and “women wear dresses or skirts.”
    Either way- without having to pull up all the talks and cut and paste a bunch of quotes– I want to be clear that my issue is not whether or not women should or shouldn’t be able to wear pants– that really isn’t even the important issue here– we’re getting caught up in the least important part of the whole matter– the REAL issue here is the rebellion of the sisters to organize and participate in a protest, particularly in the middle of Sacrament meeting. THAT says alot more about these women and what this is all about, than merely what they happen to be wearing from the waist down.
    Their own statements make it clear that when it comes right down to the heart of the matter, it really doesn’t have anything to do with clothing.

  • Tracy Keeney December 21, 2012, 9:48 am

    Oh– a couple of the talks I can think of off hand that mention the sacredness of sacrament meeting (and if I remember correctly, compares the sacred nature of it to temple attendence) is “A Sense of the Sacred” by Elder Christofferson, and Jeffrey R. Holland made the same comparison in another talk, saying something about how we should dress the same way going to Sacrament meeting, as we do going to the temple– that they’re both “houses of the Lord” and we should dress accordingly– something to that effect.

  • Angie Gardner December 21, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I just want to clarify one thing. It was never said specifically that they were “protest” or in Sacrament meeting specifically. The event was “wear pants to church” (granted Sacrament is a big part of church, but it wasn’t specifically a let’s rebel in Sacrament meeting thing) and there was no protest involved, unless you consider it a silent protest. They could have called it “protest by wearing pants to Sacrament meeting” but they didn’t. It was simply “wear pants to church”.

    In the end, there was so much overshadowing things last weekend that this took a back seat, which was appropriate I think considering the circumstances.

  • jennycherie December 22, 2012, 11:18 am

    Ok – I was really surprised to read the similarity between the church’s current statement and one given in the 70s, but that’s good, really. It’s consistent. Seeing that similarity, perhaps it is more like the Word of Wisdom where the actual scriptures say to avoid hot drinks but we interpret that to mean coffee and tea. We teach to dress in our best and we interpret that to mean skirts or dresses for women. That doesn’t take away my irritation at the spokesman who said that we don’t counsel people beyond that (because in my experience, we absolutely do!), but I can at least follow the reasoning.

    By the way, on the men & facial hair thing? I know plenty of “good men” with facial hair, but when they are called to a leadership position, every single one (without exception) has been asked to shave. Also, a good friend in my singles ward, who was very faithful to the church and also to Bon Jovi, was asked to cut his hair to above the shirt collar when he was called as ward clerk. It may not be in the handbook, but it is definitely in practice.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 22, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Members of the church KNOW what “sunday best” means that means–we know they are referring to dresses and skirts for women.

    That’s an enormously problematic statement. The church has repeatedly said that they are NOT taking a position on the meaning of “Sunday best.” In particular, they have specifically — and for about four decades now — said that they have NOT said pants do not qualify. And they repeated that sentiment when asked directly this last week.

    The sentiment that everyone “knows” something in contradiction to what is specifically, directly stated puts everyone in the position of ignoring what is said, divining something else, and insisting on their own, non-authoritative ideas.

    As I said above, “In order to follow through with what you claim is “correct procedure” you’ve got to insist that members all over the world find these past sources, understand them, parse the meaning within their own cultures, and believe them to be current IN SPITE of Trotter’s statement to the contrary.”

    For the record, no one is questioning the sacredness of Sacrament Meeting or the need to align our culture with doctrine (rather than the other way around).

    Seeing that similarity, perhaps it is more like the Word of Wisdom where the actual scriptures say to avoid hot drinks but we interpret that to mean coffee and tea.

    But we don’t “interpret that to mean coffee and tea.” That meaning was specified by revelation and officially declared by the church. That was done because it was unclear and confusing to people and it was NOT open to interpretation.

    In both cases the church, I believe, is just as specific as they intend to be. For the Word of Wisdom, they have specifically clarified what “hot drinks” means. For Sunday dress, they have repeatedly said that “best clothing” is open to the individual to interpret.

    The consistency isn’t in saying one thing and meaning another in both cases. Rather, it’s in specifying as much as needed in both cases. And in one case specificity was required, in the other it was not.

    I find the hair issue to be a very locally-dependent one. I have seen men specifically asked to shave when called to a “high” position (in Utah and Florida). I have also seen people in “high” positions with mustaches, beards, longish hair, and even ponytails.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Up with Walmart – Down with IdiotsMy Profile

  • chinnott December 22, 2012, 6:18 pm

    Tracy I think you should post the quotes and links you said you would. You keep saying the same thing but it’s different from what the church says. I think you should just listen to the church and leave that as it is.

  • Deila December 22, 2012, 9:18 pm

    Not to get off the subject of women, but about three years ago in an Irvine, CA ward, I witnessed a problematic interpretation of dress code for a man. He was not a member, but arrived for Sacrament meeting in knee length shorts and a nice shirt. My husband invited him in and we also went in. Then I saw one of our ward members, a man dressed in his sunday best suit, escort the guy out of the building for not wearing the appropriate attire (we asked later) And although we tried to make him feel invited, that was negated by this ward member. It was sad. But I understand that the gospel net brings in all kinds of fish and I have had my share of great, not great, and bad. And that’s agency.

  • Angie Gardner December 23, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Deila, thanks for sharing that. Stories like that break my heart, and yet I too have seen similar things happen.

  • marco December 27, 2012, 4:49 am

    As a BYU student back in the 80s, I attended a sacrament meeting in Orem with a girl I was dating. I had a beard at the time, and was wearing a striped shirt. A member of the Bishopric took me aside just prior to the meeting and informed me that in their ward, men are to wear white shirts and have no facial hair. What an incredible welcoming spirit that created. I spent the meeting filled with anger.

    I am currently a bishop in a YSA ward not in Utah, so this kerfluffle is news to me. I cannot recall how our (fabulous) sisters dress, or who wears pants to our meetings. But one of our flock, a male returned missionary, comes to church in long shorts, a wrinkled non-white shirt and no tie and sits on the back row. Not one ward member has said anything to him about his wardrobe. I am proud of them. I suspect the vast majority of us would act likewise. He comes to church, for heaven’s sake!

    Sadly, however, it takes little effort to create friction in our wards. I feel bad when I hear of bishops overreaching or local policies that can be at odds with common sense or clear counsel. I pray that when any of us receive counsel we question, we talk about it to the bishop (if we dare). If that is unsatisfactory, go to the Stake President. And higher if necessary. I regularly screw up and can easily be misunderstood, especially in a multicultural setting. But I pray that my ward members will go over my head if they feel the need–that they not be silent. The alternative leaves me at blame for a wound that may not heal!

    I wish we could grab a few people by the lapels (or modest ruffles) and shake ‘em good, then tell them to relax and lighten up. Yeah, that’ll show ‘em.

  • Jennie January 2, 2013, 9:41 am

    This is good reading! I just had a similar discussion with my husband. He had been working in MT. He said he has worn nice black jeans to church there as do other men. I was aghast because he has nice dress pants he could wear. I was always taught ( as a protestant, too, before joining the church) that you should wear your nicest clothes to church. Now, I live in a warm climate so it may be unfair for me to weigh in. However, around here the teens and college kids wear leggings with their dresses (even the Bishop’s daughter!) which may be an acceptable adaptation for the cold winters in UT, too. Btw, I began attending BYU in 1981 and women could wear slacks then to class and work. If not, I probably would not have attended BYU!

  • Alison Moore Smith January 2, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Jennie, welcome! Thanks for your input. :)

    I worked at the Cannon Center (BYU Heleman Halls cafeteria) in 1983. My uniform included pants. I worked at Space Utilization as a CAD designer in 1986–1987 and I was required to follow the general female faculty regulation of dresses/hose, etc., which they changed for a certain portions of the year (allowing dress slacks, but not jeans, etc.).

    Certainly there were some jobs that allowed pants (grounds crew and janitorial, for example) — and would be job specific — but the general office rule was stricter, even for students.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Don’t Let Your Boys Get Their Skanky OnMy Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Next post:

Previous post: