A few years ago, Sam and I attended an endowment session at the Salt Lake Temple. As we approached the gate, a man stood on the public sidewalk a few feet away, holding a sign that read:

Joseph Smith had 27 wives!

A couple crossed the street on their way to the temple, saw the sign, and the man yelled, “That is a lie!”

Sexist ChurchI responded, “Yea. It's probably more like 34.”

Both men looked at me in startled silence.

When discussing troubling policies or doctrines, lay church apologists fall into a typical trap. Someone makes an inflammatory comment about the church and the defender loudly denies it. Even if it's true.

And then we really look dumb.

The other day an acquaintance of mine posted a link on Facebook to an article titled Women want to attend Mormon priesthood meeting in October. The link was accompanied by her opinion that the women involved (in full disclosure, I'm not one of them) were disrespectful and clueless.

After reading the article, I couldn't understand the description. Yes, I can see why many would disagree, but could not understand the inflammatory ad hominem that ensued from the original poster and got worse as the comments progressed. 

I pointed out that — while it may be completely acceptable to God and within his design (which I've acknowledged many times before) — the church simply is a sexist organization.

This statement was met with almost universal disagreement. So let's analyze the word:

sexism |ˈsekˌsizəm|noun
prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

Can any of us, with any sense of integrity and/or intellectual honesty, claim that the LDS church does not discriminate based on gender? In fact, even in the negative sense of the word discriminate (which isn't generally the first definition), can we really claim that church policy hasn't been at least as gender-skewed as the culture at large?

Here's my proposal. We stop being dumb when we act as self-appointed church apologists. When someone points out that the church is sexist — and it obviously is — let's come up with some rational explanations and reasoning rather than just shooting off our mouths in denial mode.

Joseph Smith had 27 wives? Yes, and then some.

Do you have some rational responses to the gender distinctions in the church? Let's hear them!