What Sparked the Sister Johnson Controversy?


For years, a particular Sunday has stood out in my memory, not because of unease but due to the surprising clarity and peace I felt in the face of uncertainty. On that occasion, close friends not of our faith were in town for a visit. They proposed an activity conflicting with our usual Sabbath observance. With their understanding nature, they weren’t offended when we declined the invitation—they were considerate of our norm. The next morning, however, as my husband and I prepared for church, a distinct feeling arose that our path for the day was different than usual. Though it defied explanation, we prayed for guidance and felt a conviction to spend the day with our friends. As we explored how to explain the change of plans to the children, we quickly realized any attempt sounded more like justification. We settled on transparency with our children, presenting them with the same dilemma and encouraging them to seek their own clarity through prayer. Our friends’ genuine happiness at our change of plans only reinforced our unanimous conviction. Despite the lack of any extraordinary events, that Sunday remains a singular experience amidst countless others of devout observance.

What does this Sunday years ago have to do with Sister Camille Johnson’s recent address at the BYU Women’s Conference? In recent days, a controversy over it has erupted within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community. During her talk, Sister Johnson candidly shared her experience of balancing a career while raising a family, a revelation that has ignited a firestorm of debate, prompting both passionate support and harsh criticism, with thousands of comments and tens of thousands of reactions. The discussion has raised questions not only about gender roles and religious doctrine but has also exposed underlying tensions about the shifting landscape of expectations within many women of faith. This discussion is not merely about one woman’s choices but underscores the intense complexities of balancing personal desires with doctrine and prophetic counsel.

Amidst the fervor, I’ve reflected on that previous Sunday decision and other personal choices I have made as a woman of faith. The easy answer would be to allow myself to explain why that Sunday or my choices fall within categories of acceptable exceptions–I can be quick to grant myself alternatives. However, navigating the intricacies of personal revelation and exceptions can be complex.

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