Bishops and Young Women in the Ward
Throughout my life as a Mormon I served in many areas of the Church. However, the one place I spent most of my time was in the Young Women’s program. I served as a counselor to the president and then as a Young Women’s president.
Being a teenager at heart helped me to really enjoy serving in this area of the Church. I liked hanging out with the girls, and teaching them the things I believed then would lead them to happiness and exaltation. As I think back now on the times I spent with them I can’t help but feel a twinge of regret and heartache for teaching them what I know now to be false doctrines.
Yesterday I was looking over one of the manuals I taught from which is still in use today, all I could do was shake my head at the things I was reading. In the Young Women’s Manual 2, Lesson 11: Appreciating the Bishop (page 41), I read;
“The bishop presides over every person in the ward and directs their local church activities. … All of your adolescent life you will be under the direction of the bishop. He will appoint teachers and supervisors to do his work, but he will be very much interested in your progress. Your life here will be constantly weighed by him, for he is the judge of your worthiness … to receive higher ordinances, and to be worthy to go to the Temple.” (S. Dilworth Young, More Precious than Rubies [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1959], pp. 40–41).”
At this point I had to stop reading. I began asking myself questions, and wondering why a man who wasn’t the young girls father, or legal guardian would be allowed to have so much authority over her, authority which doesn’t even belong to him? It’s the parents who have the God given right and authority to direct, teach, and guide their children on the correct path. As we read in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”
In Mormonism the bishop is believed to be the judge of not only her worthiness, but every single member he presides over. He also calls her in for yearly interviews to weigh and measure her life, and above all to make sure she is remaining pure and chaste. I can’t imagine how this would play on the mind of a young woman.
To believe this man who sits behind the desk before her has the power to judge whether or not she is worthy enough in his eyes to attend the temple. To believe he holds her salvation in his hands and can yank it away anytime he chooses to without provocation. What this man is doing is attempting to rob Jesus of his authority.
Jesus is the only one who has the authority to judge us. Once we have accepted him we belong to him, and no one can snatch us from his hand (John 10:29).
These girls are taught at a very young age before they enter the Young Women’s program how the temple is the ultimate goal for any good, and worthy Mormon. In Young Women’s program this goal is expounded upon even more in their lessons. They dangle the temple in front of the girls as if it were a carrot, in hopes of directing them on the path the church wants them to go on. In turn teaching them they can’t function without the approval of bishop, or another mortal man.
Teaching these girls that their worthiness is determined by a man and not Jesus Christ is very offensive to me. Mormonism begins at a very early age teaching women to be subservient to men, because he is the one who will judge her. This continues on to her adult life when she learns it’s her husband who will call her from her grave, if he is pleased with her at the second coming.
I truly pray for all the young women and men in Mormon chapels all over the world, I pray they will learn the truth. I pray a Christian friend will have the courage to witness to them of God’s love for them, of his son Jesus Christ, and how only he has the right to judge one’s worthiness.