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If Women Wrote the Scriptures: Unrighteous Submission

Unrighteous dominion is a pretty popular topic around the Bloggernacle – defining it, condemning it, acknowledging that there really isn’t a penalty for it.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

D&C 121:44-45

This is typically seen as a man’s sin, not because women are so pure and virtuous, but because men have the authority. Unrighteous dominion is a sin of authority – if you don’t have it, you can’t commit the sin. 

If women had input in writing the scriptures, perhaps this passage on unrighteous dominion would be paired with a passage on unrighteous submission – explaining how people without authority can amplify the sins of authority by supporting unrighteous dominion. Every schoolyard bully needs a sidekick. Villains need minions. Dictators need staff to clean up the mess. The narcissistic boss has underlings who tell him exactly what he wants to hear. 

And in a context in which priesthood authority is being abused, the person most likely to be committing unrighteous submission is a person who has no priesthood authority – a woman. Now, let’s make it clear that unrighteous submission is only a sin when it’s paired with supporting morally wrong behavior, which is unrighteous dominion in this discussion. Further, if there’s nothing you can do, then keeping your head down and your mouth shut to avoid getting hurt may be your best option in a bad situation. 

Unrighteous submission is when you stand up and speak out in favor of unrighteous dominion. Is this morally wrong? Yes, but the definition of unrighteous submission would have to be as nuanced and fact-specific as the definition of unrighteous dominion. Sometimes it’s obvious when a priesthood leader is abusing his authority; sometimes the priesthood leader may be sincerely trying and he’s gotten in over his head. Unrighteous submission would have the same layers. Sometimes a woman is obviously forfeiting her integrity and trustworthiness to enable a wrong done by a man in authority; sometimes she might genuinely desire to help and she got caught in a difficult context.

Unrighteous Dominion: D&C 121: 37. That [the powers of heaven] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

Unrighteous Submission: When we undertake to cover someone else’s sins, or to gratify the pride of a proud man, or help him achieve his ambition in hopes that we will raise with him, or to smooth over the pain caused by his control, dominion or compulsion inflicted upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of dishonesty, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the integrity and trustworthiness of that woman.



  • What do you think of the idea of unrighteous submission being a sin?
  • Can a wife unrighteously submit to her husband? Can a husband unrighteously submit to his wife?
  • Have you ever unrighteously submitted in a tricky situation that you later regretted?