Articles of Faith 4: Valerie Hudson on the Current Discourse on Women and the Priesthood by Ballard, Dew, and Oaks

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VMHudsonDr. Valerie Hudson joined the faculty of Texas A&M University at the Bush School in 2012 as the George Bush Chair. She is considered an expert on international security and foreign policy analysis, she received her PhD in political science at The Ohio State University. Prior to going to Texas A&M she taught at Brigham Young University.   In 2009, Foreign Policy named her one of the top 100 Most Influential Global Thinkers. Dr. Hudson developed a nation-by-nation database on women (http://womanstats.org) that triggered both academic and policy interest including use by both the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and various agencies of the United Nations.   Her research and teaching experience is also complemented by three major teaching awards and numerous research awards. She is a founding editorial board member of Foreign Policy Analysis, and also serves on the editorial boards of Politics and Gender and International Studies Review. More information can be found on her website, http://vmrhudson.org.   She comes to us today under the nome de plume V.H. Cassler to discuss her article in the 7th Volume of the online journal SqaureTwo found at SquareTwo.org. Welcome VH!   Some of the questions Valerie Hudson answers are:   Valerie Hudson’s article is a sort of time capsule or cultural snapshot of the current discourse in the LDS world about the roles of women, women in the priesthood, ordain women, etc. Valerie is a self proclaimed feminist which is a designation that has become a very vague concept in some respects. There are different waves of feminism, there are different implications on what being a feminist implies. Valerie says she is a Mormon BECAUSE is a feminist. How can one define themself as a feminist and how does that dovetail with Mormonism.   A brief introduction as to what that Journal is and what people can expect to find there.   In her book- Women in Eternity, Women in Zion she explore the idea of separating doctrine from culturally accepted precepts. This theme is also addressed in your article in SquareTwo. The article is entitled Zion in Her Beauty Rises: Current Discourse on Women and the Priesthood by Ballard, Dew, and Oaks. To start out you address some of the previously held cultural approaches to the discourse on the role of women in Mormon Culture and doctrine. What are some of those past cultural positions that were held by some?   There is a change in the discourse since the 21st century began on the issues of women in the church. General Authorities seem to be more assertive with the doctrines of gender equality. Valerie’s article focuses on recent statements from Elder M. Russell Ballard, Sheri Dew, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks. She gives a brief synopsis of each of these statements.   There have been other statements on this issue, so why these three sources, why not just one?   There is a temptation when it comes to issues such as gender and where there seems to be some changes in the way things are either viewed and/or operate, to make a chicken and egg kind of argument. That is to give the distinction that the change came because of the protest or pressure of men and women, vs. divine authority. What merit is there in even considering the source of the change? Does it matter? Can’t divine authority be given based on the petition of God’s children?   Valerie Hudson concludes with a beautiful and intriguing statement, “I agree with [Sheri] Dew when she predicts that, “the kingdom of God will change overnight” for the better when we move to higher ground on these questions.” The questions here being those surrounding gender roles and doctrines in the LDS Church. Valerie elaborates further on how this is the case?   Valerie Hudson, or V.H. Cassler, is the author of a the article Zion in Her Beauty Rises:
Current Discourse on Women and the Priesthood by Ballard, Dew, and Oaks that can be found in Vol. 7 of the online Journal SqaureTwo found at SquareTwo.org