This blog is part of my ZionBound series. The full series can be read in post order here.
Another objection I have sometimes come across, regarding female ordination, is something called “disjunctive revelation”. This is a fancy term that has apparently been invented by those who left the church in the wake of Section 156, in an attempt to give their positions some sort of credibility.
(using Google, I did a search on this term, for the exact phrase, and found that there were only three pages of results, all of which were tied to the Restoration movement – but I digress)
So what is meant by the term disjunctive revelation? Well, simply put, it is a revelation viewed as being in contradiction with a prior revelation, which renders the more recent revelation false (not of God). Another way to look at it would be to say that each new revelation must be in complete harmony with all previously accepted revelations in order to be regarded as authentic (divine). The “new” cannot contradict with any of the “old”.
The problem with this concept is that there is no basis for it, and it defies reason, logic, common sense and is just not plausible. The Lord is perfectly free to make adjustments to “the rules” as He deems fit.
Objectors tend to feel “but you can’t have two revelations say opposing things about a given issue, with both being true…one must be false”.
However, this totally ignores the most basic fundamental principle of creation: things change. It also ignores the fact that God does thing according to his own purposes.
In the Book of Mormon, God directed Lehi, his wife, his children, his friend Ishmael, and Ishmael’s family to leave Jerusalem, and to flee into the wilderness. This was not a popular choice with some of them, and no doubt it required some prep. work, and some effort to actually accomplish.
But, eventually, the group found themselves camping out in the wilderness, beyond the comforts and familiarity of their city. Why did they go? Why did they undertake this ordeal? Because God revealed to them that this was His will.
Later, God revealed more of his will to them. He directed some of them to return to the city. Did Lehi and his companions regard this instruction as a disjunctive revelation? Did Nephi say to his father Lehi “but you told us that God directed us to leave the city – therefore, this new revelation, calling for some of us to go back to the city, must be false”. Naturally, he said no such thing.
What was God’s will? In the first case, God’s revelation to Lehi indicated that God’s will was for all of them to leave the city. Then, it would seem that it was His will for some of them to return. A contradiction. How can both revelations that Lehi received be true?
They are both true because they represent different divine purposes. Clearly, God had a reason for taking Lehi and Ismael and their combined families out of the city, and of course he had a reason for sending some of them back.
The contradiction only exists if we read scripture in an isolated format, without context. For example, if we read scripture in this manner:
Verse 1: And God told Lehi and his family to flee the city.
Verse 2 And God told Lehi to send his sons back to the city.
We might scratch our heads and say “well that does not seem to make a lot of sense”
But, when we explore the context of seemingly contradictory scriptures, and understand the purpose of why the original scripture was provided, and honestly seek to do the same with latter revelations, we may just come to recognize hat there really is no issue.
The reality is, God has made many changes, as we can see in my prior blogs “Can God Change?” and “Why does the Church Have to change?” – we accept these changes, therefore, we can accept other changes – especially when there really is no prior scripture that legitimately opposes female ordination.
On this latter point, some people might cite some of the “revelations” circulated by people other than the prophet-president of the church. However, church law has, since the era of Joseph Smith Jr., indicated that revelations to the church can only be received through the prophet-president. An individual may receive a personal revelation, providing guidance for the wellbeing of his family, but any revelation that seems intended to offer commentary on church doctrine, and/or with the intent of being shared with others, must be rejected as false.
Regretfully, it seems that the only real reason that people have to object to female ordination is simply the fact that they don’t want it to be, for what are most likely chauvinistic reasons, valid; and this quite simply violates the principle of “sacramental truth”.