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Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 10:42
by Joni
So, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday. (Sidebar: I was the last speaker. This is the first time in almost 9 years in our ward that a married woman has been the last speaker. Typically a female only goes last if she's leaving for or returning from a mission, and sometimes not even then. My husband got sick of hearing me complain about it every Sunday, and brought it up with the bishop. So I guess I had it coming ;) ) The topic was agency and the Plan of Salvation, so I quoted heavily from Chieko Okazaki. I mentioned in an offhand comment to my husband that I was quoting from a female General Authority. He corrected me and said that only priesthood holders can be General Authorities. (In other words, only men.)

On the one hand, General Authority seems to be more of an informal term than an office of the priesthood. It's not laid out in the D&C the way that deacon, teacher, priest and elder are with specific duties and responsibilities. If it's ever been laid down as doctrine that only a PH holder can be a GA, I'm not aware of it.

On the other hand, the president of "the largest women's organization in the world" is referred to as Sister, not President. And though you'd expect the president of a women's organization to preside over the meetings of that organization, the women's session of Conference* is presided over, and the keynote address is given by, a male.

What do you think?

*Thank you, DFU!

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 10:57
by Curt Sunshine
Yes, and no. Typical, I know.

Yes, in the sense that all General Auxiliary Board members are authorities in a general organization; no, in the sense that only Seventies and Apostles are considered "General Authorities" as an official title.

Personally, I have said publicly that Sister Okazaki is one of my favorite all-time general authorities on more than one occasion - and I haven't been corrected yet. I know there are PLENTY of members who would correct that statement, but I firmly believe most either would agree, not care, not think about it or ignore it as not worth correcting.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 11:02
by LookingHard
I know I always ask and even remind speakers it does not have to be Youth speaker(s), Sister, wake-up hymn, Brother as concluding.

I think I would have tried and indirectly mention that you will be quoting from many GA's, then next statement be from Sister O. Now you didn't SAY she was a GA - but a bit implied.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 11:05
by hawkgrrrl
That just sounds really petty to me, deliberately pointing out that women are inferior. That's just my opinion. Being male apparently gives one's words a weight that being female never can.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 11:08
by LookingHard
hawkgrrrl wrote:That just sounds really petty to me, deliberately pointing out that women are inferior. That's just my opinion. Being male apparently gives one's words a weight that being female never can.
Agreed, but I think it used to be in the CHI. I know it used to say that a man has to close the meeting. Now it says nothing about that (so some places continue since it isn't clear), but it does say not to exclusively call on couples and allow non-married individuals to pray in sacrament meeting.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 12:20
by LDS_Scoutmaster
LookingHard wrote:...wake-up hymn...
Lol

I've heard it said as both General Authorities and General Officers. Is there a difference? And when did GA become a title? There's got to be some history on it.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 12:45
by LookingHard
LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:
LookingHard wrote:...wake-up hymn...
Lol
And lest I be misunderstood, the wake-up hymn is needed no matter what gender just spoke.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 13:33
by Roadrunner
I've always considered the general RS, YM, and Primary presidencies as general authorities. I don't think "General Authority" is a technical term officially defined anywhere although I could be wrong about that. I know many people who think they are GAs. Likewise I've also always considered the general Sunday School, YM, and presiding bishopric as GAs. Incorrect?? I don't know.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 14:35
by DarkJedi
I could be wrong about this, it's happened before (but not recently ;) )

In the beginning of General Conference they say something along the lines of "...with speakers selected from the general authorities and general officers of the church...." I always thought the general authorities were the Q15, 70s, and presiding bishopric, and the general officers were the YWP, RSP, SSP. etc. Just my take on it. FWIW, I have quoted those I consider general officers in talks before.

Re: Is there such thing as a female General Authority?

Posted: 09 Feb 2015, 14:41
by On Own Now
General Authorities are priesthood holders. Before any of you jump on me for being some kind of mysoginistic hater, let me point out that I'm not the author of the term. I'm just 'splainin' how it is. A Priest in your ward can baptize, but he has to have permission from the "local authority" (the Bishop). One Bishop's permission does not give the Priest authorization to baptize in another ward. The Priest would have to have authorization from THAT Bishop. The term General Authority simply means that they have priesthood responsibility and keys that span across ward or stake boundaries. Note that an "Area Authority" only has that ability within their designated area. So, a GA can organize (authority) a stake presidency, branch presidency, deacon's quorum presidency, anywhere in the world... (general).

I believe it is useful to be clear and exact when we use these terms. There is a very real and important question about whether women should be able to be ordained to the priesthood. There is a related question about how the Church, whether women are ordained or not, can reduce gender role designations and develop a 21st century approach to equality. These questions are both HELPED by an understanding and acknowledgement that women cannot be in general authority roles, because that fact helps beg the question. In other words, I find it useful not to get into an argument of words, which masks the argument of principles. Women cannot be general authorities. That is an elephant in the room. Seeing the elephant clearly is the best way to keep the question on everyone's mind.