Woman pastorOn Palm Sunday, my daughter carried the cross into an Episcopal sanctuary. She and the other acolytes also helped to pass out and regather the collection plates, light the candles, and support the priests during communion, supplying them with additional bread as needed.

These are responsibilities she has assumed over the last several years as she faithfully serves her congregation as an acolyte once a month. She started at age ten, nervous and unsure. Now, nearly four years later, she confidently dons her white robe on acolyting days, certain of her role and participating joyfully in the life of her people.

OK, “joyfully” is admittedly a stretch. She is a teenager after all. But she is proud of herself, and I am proud of her; her church is teaching servant leadership.

I’ve been thinking all week of the sight of my daughter as an acolyte, presiding at the front of the church in her ritual clothing. It is an image I don’t see in my own church, where women don’t hold the priesthood and are therefore barred from leading most Christian rituals: blessing the Eucharist, baptizing new members, anointing the sick, conducting a worship service, officiating at temple ordinances, performing a marriage or funeral, or hearing confession.

So LDS women are grateful for small signs of progress. This weekend, for example, we are thrilled that a woman will likely pray aloud in General Conference for the first time in Mormon history.

In recent weeks there has been a rise in media attention to the question of LDS women’s ordination. (See here, here, and here.) Although the increasing visibility of this discussion might suggest that most Mormon women are now pushing for ordination, this is not the case, even among self-described feminists. According to sociological research recounted in American Grace, only 10% of Mormon women want the priesthood. What’s especially interesting about that research, however, is that nearly half—48%—of Mormon men favor ordaining women. (You can read the story of one such man, a current bishop, at the Ordain Women website.)

In other words, in answer to the specific question, “Do you think Mormon women should hold the priesthood and share equally in the administrative leadership of wards and stakes?” nearly every other Mormon man said yes.

Why?

A number of reasons have been put forward for this deep discrepancy in what Mormon men want for Mormon women and the far more modest hopes that Mormon women seem to harbor for themselves. Some have claimed that men are pragmatically selfish, hoping to share the burdens of leadership in an ecclesiastical structure that depends so heavily on long hours of volunteer labor. Others have pointed to a generational changing of the guard: church leadership is now passing into the hands of men who have successfully labored alongside women in the workplace and realize the invaluable contributions and insights that women can provide.

While I’m sure multiple factors come into play, I would propose my own: men know how much they have grown through holding the priesthood, and generously wish the same opportunity for their wives, sisters, and friends . . . and perhaps especially their daughters.

The priesthood changes lives because it is active, requiring those who bear it to rely upon God in new ways to face the challenges of serving others and building the kingdom. Exercising God’s power on earth is nothing less than a rehearsal for the vigorous eternity Mormons envision.

In the temple, Mormon men and women both experience the promise that they are anointed to become priests and priestesses in the hereafter, contingent upon their faithfulness. The words that are pronounced are the same. The difference is that under current policy, LDS men have their entire adult lives to ready themselves for this eternal role, and LDS women do not.

As a woman who has not always been a Latter-day Saint, what I know is that the years I spent in divinity school learning how to be a pastor—dispensing the bread and visiting the sick and discovering how to preach—taught me more about being a Christian than I could have gleaned from a book or realized vicariously through someone else’s performance of an ordinance.

It is as the old proverb says:

Tell me, I’ll forget.

Show me, I’ll remember.

Involve me, I’ll understand.

The real learning is in the doing, not just the receiving of other people’s acts.

This is why I stand for Mormon women’s ordination. I have seen what women’s ritual leadership has effected in myself, in my daughter, and in my female friends who are pastors. And more importantly, I have seen how such leadership changes entire congregations.

 

* Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (New York: Simon & Schuster), 242-244.

** Over the following weeks there will be two more installments in this blog series on Mormon women’s ordination.

*** The image of a Protestant woman pastor is used with permission of Shutterstock.com.

64 Comments

  1. I totally respect your opinion, Jana. Honestly, I don’t want that responsibility- I already have enough. Women in the LDS church do have leadership positions and an opportunity to grow, and plenty of opportunities to grow serving others in the community of saints and as a whole as well as growing while raising a family.
    I think men need leadership positions to help them grow in a way that women don’t- women are naturally in a growing spot caring for children with more responsibility. Does it help everyone to be challenged? Yes. Do I love everything done by those in leadership positions, no. But I don’t see that changing with women being out in those roles either. Good discussion!

    • Willow, don’t you think that breaking down the hierarchy or giving women access to some of it might help make some of your current burdens easier to bear? Women already preside over the RS, and a woman can decide on an enrichment activity- but can’t go through with it until a male in authority gives her the ok. Does having to ensure a male is at the mommy playgroup because activities at the church “must have priesthood present” make anyone’s service any easier? Do you think a RS president being able to work through morality issues and sins with those she has stewardship over would help or hinder the work (I certainly know as a teenage girl speaking to a female during interviews would have definitely helped me be frank and open, which would then have helped us work through things faster)? And I don’t think there is a mother alive who, when given the chance to bless a sick child, would say “oh I don’t want that extra responsibility, I have enough, thanks”.
      I don’t care about more power or responsibility, I care about being able to more fully share burdens and a wider opportunity to serve.

      Also, with this line:
      “I think men need leadership positions to help them grow in a way that women don’t- women are naturally in a growing spot caring for children with more responsibility. ”
      Do you not see how much you just belittled men and their capability for fatherhood? Do men not grow as nurturers and fathers? Leadership or priesthood is not an equivalent to motherhood- FATHERHOOD is.

      • I’ve never once asked a priesthood leader for permission to go ahead with a RS activity (I’ve been in the presidency for 4 years, and was Enrichment leader before that) I also don’t ever recall asking a priesthood leader to be present at an activity, unless it is to help babysit. Our ward is a little more progressive than the average, and because of this I don’t really ever feel like I’m being repressed at all. I feel like in Ward council the women’s ideas are listened to and considered equally to the men. I know for a fact that the RS and Primary presidents have attended Bishopric meetings to figure out callings. A RS sister can counsel with another sister any time she wants, she doesn’t need the priesthood to do that. I don’t think the priesthood has to be there for women to have leadership and decision making power, to me that is something that can happen anyway. It is all in the attitudes of the people and the culture of the ward.

        • It is nice that your bishop did not make you get approval or chaperone your activities, but church policy is that women must get male bishop approval for female activities and the male bishop has the right to require male supervision. I do not think such rules would be in place if women were included in leadership, and I do not think we should have to depend on the leniency of local leaders to treat us in a less infantilizing manner than the rules our male leaders have made.

      • Jenn; Maybe you’ve made the point without realizing it. The woman is the mother and the man is the father. I was reared by a valiant mother without a father in the home, she was my greatest strength in all that lay before me in my growing years. She had to take the roll of mother and father and in spite of her talents and outstanding ability she couldn’t replace the father that WW1 took from us. The only way for one to know how important the parental team is, is discovered when one or the other isn’t present. I believe because of the example of my mother that the female is most precious in the life of a child and their mate and no one could ever replace what my mother did for me, not even my father, On the other hand she could not fill the roll of a father. Each of us were created to fill those individual rolls in our own lives and in the lives of our loved ones. A female maybe able to take care of the responsibilities of the father but I can tell you the absence of a father even with the best mother in the world can leave a void in one’s life. I have realized that by my personal experiences. When a boy if mom wasn’t at home when I arrived from school or any other activity I was lost.

        • Fred,

          I agree with you that Fathers and Mothers are different and both essential. It seems to me that you feel that if women were to hold the priesthood then they would take the place of the father or that we wouldn’t need Father and Mother. I’m not sure that this follows.

          I believe that Men and Women compliment each other in the priesthood. Women holding priesthood would only compliment men holding the priesthood. They would be one in their administrations and ministering. They would act together, as father and mother, in administering the blessings of the atonement to their children… Just as Adam and Eve did–passing on the blessings of the priesthood to their sons and daughters.

          It used to be more common for wives to stand with their husbands when administering to their children. Now-a-days in post correlated LDS culture, this would be anathema. When I was sealed to my wife I have always felt that we jointly bear the fullness of the priesthood and together we administer the blessings of the atonement to our children. We have claim upon our children, together, in the holy resurrection.

          To me, I look forward to the day when it will be more commonplace for our women to stand by us, publicly and privately, in administering the blessings of atonement to our families and community.

          I just don’t see how women bearing the priesthood would somehow displace the role of men as fathers or women as mothers. I think it would enhance both

          • You couldn’t be farther from what I actually mean. I don’t think anything would eliminate the father or the mother in the family unit. I do beleive each are essential to the rearing of children not to mention it would be impossible to bring them into the world if one was not present.

            I think We have a different point of view on the matter. It is my opinion that the female already shares in the blessings of the priesthood simply because they are the female side of the male which equals man. In my opinion there is no need to duplicate the priesthood in the home because the female already has the rights and priviledges being one part of the equation. I would be the first to admit I was wrong if the revelation came that would prove me so, but it would have to come to me in the same what the revelation came when President Kimball & the first presidency and quorum of the twelve announced the revelation on the priesthood in 1978. I would reveal that ex[perience with you if time & space were adequate to do so.

            I am convinced by that experience that the Lord does in fact communicate with His prophets, seers, & revelators and the first step that would convince me that the female needs more of the priesthood than the Lord blesses her with through the male would be a revelation to his prophets, seers, & revelators that this was the case, I would have to be blessed with a communication through the Holy Ghost that it was the Lord’s will. I believe the Lord would reveal that to His servants the prophets and His saints in the manner in which the bible reveals that he would. Appreciate your respons.

      • I don’t think that Willow’s comment belittles men or fatherhood. Speaking from personal experience, I would not have been the father I am today without the priesthood. When my son was born, I perceived the intense bond my wife had with him. I also realized the discrepancy between her bond with my son and my bond with my son.

        This worried me greatly because I knew I was supposed to have a strong bond with my son. I also felt as if bonding with an infant who could not communicate, and could only sleep, eat, and poop was a bit of a ridiculous notion. Despite my wanting to grow and strengthen our relationship, I could not see it happening. I didn’t fully realize the strength of a parental bond until I blessed my son in church.

        When I used the priesthood of God to bless my son, I instantly felt that connection that I knew I should have felt. I’ve often reflected on that moment to continue developing that relationship. If my wife held the priesthood at the time of the blessing, I’m almost sure that she would have wanted to give the blessing out of the deep love that she already had for him so that she could bless him with all the wonderful gifts that she wanted for him in life. The single most important event in the development of my relationship with my son may not have happened.

        My wife is pregnant again, and while I am keeping an open mind to how the experience might be different the second time around, I know that it won’t be a big deal if I feel the same way I felt the first time. I know God’s priesthood will provide me an opportunity to feel the way I know I should if I don’t instantly feel that bond.

        In speaking with my brothers and close friends about this experience, they too have felt that their parental relationships were instantaneously, and exponentially strengthened by blessing their children in church. So when Willow says that, “men need leadership positions to help them grow in a way that women don’t,” she’s not discounting the role of fatherhood or denigrating men in any way. The statement accurately describes my experience, and the experience of other men.

        • If the father and mother have the priesthood, who blesses the baby? Who baptizes and confirms?

          If this is a church of God, then the answer is men hold the priesthood. If this is a church of man, then there’s no real power in the priesthood anyway.

          • Why could the mother and father not share in such ordinances? One hold the child while the other pronounces the blessing; one baptize and the other confirm; one pronounce the healing blessing and one seal it up?

          • @Olde Skool What I meant to portray is that if I had not acted as voice in this blessing, the experience would have been different. It wouldn’t have been enough to hold him or stand in the circle. I feel that particularly with the blessing of of my son, acting as voice was tantamount to the parental bond. Feeling the Spirit tell me what to say as I blessed him was an experience that launched the deep bond that God intended us to have. If my wife held the priesthood, I’m almost sure she would have wanted to bless as voice. This would have left me holding him. I don’t think the experience would have been as powerful.

            Furthermore, the issue of who does what in officiating in the ordinances of salvation for children may become an issue of strife between spouses. My wife and I negotiated the name of our child up until the moment he was born. Some couples go beyond that even. Deciding who performs the ordinances for their children could be an additional burden on parents who are already facing many decisions about how to rear children.

    • I wonder how much of our gender expectations are purely cultural. If our boys grew up hearing every week in Young Men that they are great spiritual nurturers, and that that is their sacred duty from God, I bet they would “need” the priesthood to help them have more compassion. I think we have heard that explanation so long that we assume it’s the real reason, when the real reason is probably much more complicated and mired more in tradition than doctrine.

      • By experience I know that boys are not reared up believing they are great spiritual nurturers. They are reared with the instruction to follow the example and become like Jesus Christ, to be teachable humble and obedient to His commandments. The Lord has commanded that and as we serve others we learn the true meaning of compassion, empathey, sympathy and all the other words that generates in ones very being the compassion you speak of. Serving our fellow man (male & female) is what leads us to become more Christlike in our daily walk.

  2. Lynn Rollins

    Thank you so much Jana for your boldness is speaking out on this issue. One of the reasons I have found it hard to stay in the LDS church is because so few intelligent, caring women seem to be willing to talk about this issue- which is HUGE for me. I would just like to respectfully comment to Willow that no one is asking that every woman be required to hold the priesthood. Why because you don’t want the priesthood, should it be denied to another woman who desires it?

  3. Jana Riess

    First of all, let me say that the tenor of the discussion so far has been remarkably respectful. Thank you all for that! Yesterday on Facebook one of my friends who was mourning the loss of Roger Ebert pointed out that there aren’t enough cultural examples of people who can disagree, sometimes vehemently, but always with respect and some amount of good cheer — which is what he always saw in the friendship between Siskel and Ebert.

    It’s great to see that here about an issue I know people feel passionately about on all sides. I find the typical name-calling and general immaturity that often characterize blog comments — including, unfortunately, Mormon blogs — awfully depressing, so . . . thanks. Please continue to disagree, with me and with each other, with respect.

    I think Jenn’s points are very apt, both on a pragmatic and a theological level. I too find it unfair to men when they are characterized as inherently unspiritual, as people who “need” the priesthood and would otherwise be unable to progress. I’ll be discussing that in a future post in this three-part series.

  4. I remember being little and a member of the LDS Church, before I was baptized playing ”pass the Sacrament” with a little basket that I had from being a flower girl in a wedding reception. I stand by that childhood play, don’t know when I realized that girls couldn’t do that type of administering in my church but it was a disappointment. I don’t know if currently we as women should or shouldn’t in God’s mind hold the formal priesthood, but I would like it if we as a church and church leadership would honestly, humbly inquire. I do long for a greater ‘something’ for women and for myself and my daughters in the church, I just don’t know for sure in what form. Personally I don’t want for more responsibility or power or stewardship in themselves, but I do long to more effectively bless and serve those around me. I think I do a fairly well being willing to go and do as the Spirit directs, without a formal priesthood title. Our bishop is a good man that I’ve gone to gone to for counsel, but still I am uncomfortable with the idea of my girls in particular being in that setting one on one for worthiness interviews, and all that that could potentially entail, it just seems like a bad idea waiting to happen, for all parties. If there were a corresponding female authority holder that could fulfill that responsibility I would be more comfortable with the idea but still not 100%. We need spiritual confidants and guides and even occasionally need a confession heard by mortal ears I just think one on one with youth has the potential to go terribly wrong, unfortunately with adults as well, I don’t know what the answer is, having utilized confessions and repentance for serious transgressions as a youth and found it very helpful especially when I didn’t think I could confide certain things to my parents, but it’s such a tricky thing. Another aspect I would appreciate an official nod to would be a return to the practice of mothers blessings. I am the member parent in my home, my husband being a good agnostic man, but it is awkward sometimes to invite another man into our home for the purpose of a blessing, I would love to have official current sanction for this. Recently two of my brothers have moved near by making it not as awkward, but still a feverish child in the middle of the night, I would like to feel like I could not only earnestly pray but be sanctioned to lay my hands on a little head and offer a blessing. The same feelings are invoked when I hear of children receiving blessings at the hands if their father at the beginning of the school year or before embarking on some new chapter of their lives. In our home it would be inappropriate to have some other male priesthood bearer invoke those blessings for my children, wholly inappropriate, but I believe completely appropriate as their mother and would not interject anything negative, only positive into our family relationships. I could go on all day but those are a few of my thoughts on women and priesthood ordination.

    • Dovie; Of all the organizations in the Church of Jesus Christ it is the sisters in the relief society, young women, & primary who set the example the Savior would have us follow when ministering to our fellow man (male & female). If it were not for the sisters we brethren would be in sad shape in my humble opinion. My desire is to do the Lord’s will even if at times I don’t understand why. I might add it would be marvelous at times if I could permit my wife to perform the duties of the office I hold in the priesthood. As I have been a student of the gospel for 40 years I have discovered that Is not the plan the Lord had presented to his children for their growth and progress in mortality.
      I might add in the years past when I had doubts The Lord in His own due time has revealed to me the wisdom in his plan of happiness (the gospel). Once He speaks to me concerning my roll through The Holly Spirit the questions are put to rest in my mind. My grand father used to tell me Freddy the grass always looks greener on the other side fo the fence. I have faith that God the Eternal Father knows what he is doing and who am I to question His great wisdom, after all it was He who sent His Son to save the world and all of the creation of his hands, the Holy Ghost has revealed these things to me and I am at peace with even things I don’t understand.

  5. Jana what do you think about the two trees theory by Valerie Hudson? I am in charge of getting spirits to this side of the veil and my hubs is in charge of getting them through to the other side and it really is one eternal round? Obviously we have to help each other in our roles tremendously!

  6. Jana, you said ”
    In the temple, Mormon men and women both experience the promise that they are anointed to become priests and priestesses in the hereafter, contingent upon their faithfulness. The words that are pronounced are the same. The difference is that under current policy, LDS men have their entire adult lives to ready themselves for this eternal role, and LDS women do not.”
    That is not really true… next time you are in the temple listen again to what is said at this point as to who men & women will be priestesses to…

  7. I do not think you understand our culture. When a man and a woman get married they share the priesthood power of ruling over the family (which is the most important thing in the church) . The man cannot literally be without the woman and the woman.

  8. Phillip C. Smith

    Phillip C. Smith, Ph.D. 4.6.2013

    WOMEN AND THE PRIESTHOOD

    Why can’t women receive the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? We can understand how some women (and men) may, by the way they conceptualize this issue and/or their interactions with some men, feel that this policy is wrong, that women should also be given the priesthood. Here are some non-official thoughts about this issue.

    God or Human-Based: Whatever actions takes place relative to this issue should depend in large measure, perhaps even totally, on the source of the priesthood in the Church, whether it is of God or simply man made. If the priesthood is a human organization, set up by men to manage life and religion, then what has been done up to now may well be fallible and posssibly in need of correction. Thus it is indeed open to efforts to change by any who feel that it does not give women (and perhaps some men as well) an equal access to its use.

    If, though, the priesthood in the Church is truly the power of God given to man for his use, then decisions about and changes in who holds and exercises it must include at least the approval of God. God can, if he desires, prompt his prophet to think about this issue as he seeks to know what God would like, as he did President Kimball and the black-priesthood issue. However God decides, each of us should get close enough to Him through righteous living and service in his kingdom that we can know for ourselves his will on this matter.

    Pre-Mortality: God’s priesthood is not given to men in mortality for personal power, honor or worth validation. Lucifer, during pre-mortality, apparently saw it as a status-power avenue and sought to act accordingly. Jehovah saw it, on the other hand, as a vehicle of service to others, and accorded to God any glory or assumed honor that might possibly appear related.
    What does our Heavenly Father think about the priesthood and women? Does he see the priesthood as much more about service than anything else? I believe so.

    Major Purpose of Life: The most important purpose of mortality is to bring to the earth all of us, the spirit children of God, to obtain physical bodies and, hopefully, be raised by good parents in righteousness, so that we can work out more effectively our own salvation with God’s help. The most important role in mortality thus is to be a parent, men and women as equal partners with the mother generally the major nurturer of the children. By entrusting the care of those up to age 12 basically to women, the Church recognizes that this may be the most important formative years of life. Is Primary, then, the most important aspect of the Church? Many women do not marry and, many who do are unable to have children. So much good comes, though, when they help raise other people’s children in Church and other settings. Thus, in an eternal, most important sense in this mortal life, women are at least the equal to and may play an even more significant role in this most important calling.

    God and His Prophets Over the Centuries: God usually calls men to priesthood positions. Some women like Deborah (Judges 4) were called when men were apparently not doing their duty. There were generally few males who held the priesthood in Old Testament times. We do not read of men who did not hold the priesthood, or any women, raising question about this practice. Christ, during his mortal ministry, conferred the priesthood upon men only, but said, to help them acquire the proper perspective, that “whoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44) and later washed their feet (John 13:4-9) to teach them humility. For those who see mainly honor and deference as accruing to the priesthood need to note that the day the atoning sacrifice began Christ told his apostles, those holding the highest priesthood offices in the Church, what would befall them in mortality after his death (John 14-16). It was not a delightful scenario. He showed them by his own example in mortality that the heart and soul of the priesthood is not honor, power or worth validation but service. I believe, thus, that Christ would be unhappy with anyone, man or women, who envisions the priesthood as an equality issue.

    Christ saw and treated women as if they had the same competence, value and importance as men. Why, then, did he not give them the priesthood during his mortal ministry or since? I don’t know the real answer to this. What do thoughtful, concerned women say about it?

    Present Day Situation: There are too many men in the Church today who, because they hold the priesthood, see and treat women as something less. If this is the case they need to repent and ask the women in question for forgiveness. This “honor-worth-status” view is not the way the Lord Jesus Christ sees the priesthood (see D. & C. 121:34-46). The most important priesthood-related counsel reminds us that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained” except by love and its correlates. We sorrow when we hear of women who have been subject to any degree of unrighteous dominion by priesthood holders. More needs to be done to teach men how best to interact with and treat women as the great people they are. Unrighteous dominion is never justifiable, by prophets or anyone else. Joseph learned in Liberty Jail the importance of exercising power or influence only in the Lord’s way.

    Does it make sense to have, in each ward, a sister designated and called by the bishop to counsel with women in the ward who are in difficult or abusive situations and want a woman’s counsel? Can and does the ward Relief Society president often play this role? At the appropriate time it might be well for the bishop, this sister and the aggrieved parties to sit down together to try and resolve the problem. How the bishop and Relief society president then deals with the abusive husband should follow, but specifically how is not clear to me.
    Nearly all LDS Church service is voluntary. In this the Church is different from other religions where the ecclesiastical positions are generally full-time career jobs. The relatively few men serving full time in our Church ecclesiastical positions are called to these positions, often at considerable personal and financial sacrifice. They generally have difficult responsibilities. We know a number of General Authorities and not a few are frequently worn out by their calling and would, as one apostle inferred to me once, be only too happy to give it up if he could. Because of his love for others and sense of responsibility he kept on. Another apostle who serves faithfully today said of his calling that it is “a life sentence.” No sensible person aspires to “high” Church office. Such leaders deserve our love and support.
    The heart and soul of the priesthood, then, is voluntary service. Such service on the local level, where most of us serve, means being moved around, often from presumed high status positions to lower ones. Less than 10% at a time of those holding the priesthood are serving in so-called “high” positions. These will all be released someday and often be asked to teach primary, be a greeter, etc., not usually seen by the world as very important positions (but seen by God as such). Most men, though, who have served in Church leadership positions have or should come to recognize that any presumed “status” part of the calling is far less significant, if significant at all, than the “responsibility” part. Those men in the Church who are power, fame or overall status-minded oriented must suffer when they realize that they may have been considered at some time for “higher” priesthood offices and then passed over. Women don’t have such worries about priesthood positions, though I presume some do when not called to ward, stake or general-level Relief Society, Young Women or Primary positions.
    Some men can and do feel slighted because, even though they have the priesthood, they are not called to “high” priesthood offices. The feelings they have of having being given the priesthood but not “honored” by “significant” church service opportunities may well be seen as analogous to those feelings some women have because they have not received the priesthood. There are not that many positions at the top, so what I believe our Heavenly Father wants both women and men to develop is one of the greatest attributes one can acquire, and that is the ability to, in a religious sense, “rejoice in the opportunities given to others.” Just as women need to rejoice that men have priesthood opportunities (and we are thus put in a position to learn to serve others with love), men who are not called to “high” positions need to rejoice and support those who are.
    There are times when some of us who hold the priesthood and act in related Church callings may feel that the load is too much, that it would be a relief to let someone else take over. I have thought to myself what it would mean if the women in our Church would receive the priesthood, and thus be susceptible to being called, in addition to their own present types of assignments, to all the different positions that men now hold. Such a change would probably bring a great sigh of relief to some men in the Church. At last, they would say, we can turn these often difficult, stressful responsibilities over to the women. They certainly seem to me, on average, to do at least as good a job in their assignments as men do in theirs, and thus might likely also, on average, do the same in present priesthood callings. My wife, an intelligent, educated woman, says please don’t do this to us. We have enough to do as it is.
    Those who have matured spiritually and emotionally enough to see the priesthood in its true light, namely in terms of service, recognize and accept the fact that it is not where one serves but how that is important. Good women and men do not aspire to higher office but learn to serve where they are called with only the love of Christ in their hearts. My personal view is that men are given the priesthood to gently pressure them to rise up and serve others. Honor is the last thing on my mind when trying to do my present calling as a ward mission leader. My need is to develop love for those I serve. God himself will honor me if I do this right.
    I have come to develop more appreciation and compassion for our general, area, stake & ward priesthood leaders because I recognize how challenging and demanding such callings often are, and how difficult it is to undergo the occasional negative treatment from some others that comes with these callings. I remember that both Joseph Smith & Brigham Young were constantly mistreated by critics and other persecutors. When Joseph complained about this once, the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest of all, indicated that he had had it worse. None was as mistreated as was the God and Savior of this world during his mortal ministry.
    For those still worried or bothered about the priesthood-women issue please consult Beverly Campbell’s excellent book Eve and the Choice made in Eden (2003), an articulate, thoughtful exposition indicating all so clearly that women are at least the equals of men. Sheri Dew gave a talk recently showing the power of women in the Church. It is impressive. Neylan McBaine, in a talk given at the 2012 FAIR Conference, has indicated something that is found to some degree already, and that is how women like herself could make even more significant contributions to the Church, without needing to have the priesthood to do so. Women who are faithful will have all of the happiness, blessings and opportunities in eternity that they would wish. They can, here and now, go anytime to their Heavenly Father, feel of his love, and have confirmed to them that they are as important as any man in the Kingdom.
    One issue that would make priesthood changes that some might still desire very difficult in the Church is that of sexual dynamics in human relationships. What should be done to minimize the possibility that there will be physical attractions and/or accompanying behaviors growing up between the men and women, not married to each other, who might be working together in Church councils and assignments? Attraction and resulting behavior problems have developed in a number of Church-related situations already, but these would likely be more frequent and intense if the association situations were as intimate as those existing, for example, in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in stake presidencies or in ward bishoprics. We might say that men and women should control themselves in this matter, but I believe that this could prove to be challenging, even almost too much for some otherwise good and faithful members to handle successfully. I believe that this issue would need to be resolved satisfactorily before the Church can consider putting men and women together in church councils, more than as needed at present, where close personal association on a regular basis is part of the situation.
    In sum, the true view of priesthood is not at all that of honor and personal worth but of service. All of us, female or male, are children of God and of equal worth, and God honors us all equally if we are faithful in our service regardless of whether or not we hold the priesthood. This said, I do not know the will of God in these matters. Would he like to or has he planned to have women hold the priesthood sometime in mortality? If this were the case I believe that he would work upon the mind of the prophet as he did Spencer W. Kimball relative to the black-priesthood issue. So far we have not seen any indication of this direction though I would support it fully if it were God’s will.

    • Doctor; I am impressed with your take on the priesthood controversy. It is well thought out and well put. The thoughts in response I would have are simple and few and in line with what I have harvested from my many years of study.

      I recall a few years ago a message delivered by President Gordon B Hinckley where in he declared that the crowning event of God’s creation was the female after the creation of the male and all else that was created. Based on his words in that message along with the Holy Ghost confirming the words of the living prophet in our day, I know it to be true.

      I think many often fail to realize that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ see the beginning from the end. They know what the complete man will be when he comes to a fulness or is complete, the term used in the scriptures is perfect. The complete man is not man and woman as we understand those terms. Man is Male and female and so must be joined together by the priesthood of God in order be the complete man as the scriptures declare In various books of scripture such as the bible. To be complete will not be accomplished until God declares to each individual that there calling and election is made sure. Even in our incomplete status we must obey the laws and commandments in order to move forward to that time when we may stand before the judgment bar of God and hear well done thou good and faith servant. All of God’s children are here to work toward that goal of obtaining the priesthood which according to the bible will not come until we have indured to the end of our life in obedience to our heavenly Father. Even as man and his wife have the benefit of the priesthood in mortality, if the male has had it conferred upon them they are subject to losing that blessing (the priesthood) if they fail to keep the law of God and endure to the end of their lives. No man can have the eternal priesthood of God without his eternal mate obedient at his side faithful to the end.

      Will the female have the priesthood conferred upon herself in mortality, I personally do not think so, but I would remind you that I am not the prophet of the Lord who presides over His church and kingdom on this earth. I like all mankind I to do not have a complete knowledge of all things from the beginning to the end, or should I say from the beginning to a complete man (male & female) whoever that man maybe.

      I do know that for everyone it all depends on our keeping in obedience to the higher law of God to the very end as revealed in the scriptures.

    • Abraham Righteously sought to receive the priesthood. He wanted to be a righteous father.

      How is this any different than a righteous woman seeking the same power? We can seek the priesthood in a righteous way.

      Recent statements by Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard state that men are not the priesthood and that the priesthood is not male.

      We have been taught since the temple the days of Joseph Smith that the highest order of the priesthood is Marriage. True and full priesthood power transcends gender, office, or position.

      Fathers and Mothers are given authority together–to preside in righteousness. They bear the true priesthood together–or God’s power.

      We hear all the time that the only responsibility that persists in the eternities is Father and Mother–Wife and Husband as equals. All other things fall away, and as Paul teaches, only Charity remains.

      True priesthood power is found in love. That love is expanded eternally between a Man and a Woman.

      Men and Women ought to seek to enter into this order of the priesthood. It transcends gender and social construct.

      We can model this better within our own church. I believe that Janna has made some powerful points. Ritual service and administration of the blessings of atonement is powerful. I have experienced this as a young man and now a father in the church. I experienced it as an ordinance worker in the temple. I want my daughters and my sons to both know and experience this. I want to administer these blessings to my posterity with my wife literally at my side in all things (not just sitting on the couch listening to me). And I want to be at my wife’s side listening to her pronounce words of blessing and love, wisdom and guidance. I think we could take turns blessing our children as once was done in the early days of the church. How would this detract from our roles as father and mother, husband and wife. I would love to bless her and then she could bless me. This would be atonement and true love.

      • So, my point is, why is it unrighteous for a woman to seek to enter into this order of the priesthood?

        And why would it be so crazy to formalize this process for young women as we do for young men?

        • The Lord’s house is a house of order and not one of confusion. I beleive if one had the priesthood conferred on them and ordained to one office or the other in the priesthood that would be a duplication. As others have said it is the Lord’s call not man’s call. Again man is male and female so what the Lord besrtoys on man his mate automatically receives the same blessings as the man. Itnis my belief that the Lord knew what he was doing when he created a help meet for the first man. God new that man would be lost without his mate. It si my opinion that because God himself couldn’t be in our midst he sent the very He sent the crown of His creations which was the female knowing if anyone could help him (the Male) it was she (the female). As far as people feeling uneasy about serving others which is the Lord’s will then we need to question ourselves. If the Lord through the Holy Ghost speaks to man (male & female) the we should move forward in what hHe has communicated to us whether we are male or female. One of the constant repeated we receive in the scripture is to be one even as the Father & the Son are one. That Godly counsel is especially applicable to the saints who are married the man is commanded to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. Doesn’t God define the male and female as one flesh?

          • What about women who never marry, Fred? What about women who never have children?

            And for heaven’s sake, would you stop referring to women as “the female” as if we were animals?? Women don’t exist to complete men. Women don’t exist to simply help men make it to the celestial kingdom. We are individuals and important in our own right, not an appendage to men.

  9. Either you believe that the Church is Christ’s Church on Earth, or you don’t. Either you believe that church leadership is ordained of Christ, or you don’t. Either you believe that the structure of the Church is as Christ directs, or you don’t.

    As a Black member, I can either accept that the Priesthood was not always available to me or not. If you question faith, you have none. As a convert who was raised by 2 lesbians, I can tell you without hesitation, that at the heart of the feminist movement lies a venomous hatred for men. To tell me that feminist don’t hate men is as outlandish as saying the KKK doesn’t hate Blacks. The experiences of my life will not allow me to swallow such hogwash, so please save it.

    I am most comfortable in Flip Flops, Board Shorts, and a T-shirt. However, I am not about to start a “I want to wear flip flops and T-Shirts to the Temple” Movement. If I dont want to abide by the program, I can always remove myself

    Finally every Sunday we recite the Mission of the Aaronic Priesthood which closes, “Give Proper Respect to Women, Girls, and Children”. To hod the Priesthood means much much more than passing or blessing the Sacrament etc. It means that you would have to be completely willing to sacrifice all-even to the laying down of your life, for the benefit of your wife. Women who actually pay attention in Church, and seek the spirit know this-that is why the overwhelming majority of Sisters DON’T WANT THE PRIESTHOOD. It means giving up your seat on the lifeboat to a man. Whereas the brethren of the Church honestly seek to do all they can to give their wives whatever they want that is why so many brothers would be fine with the Sisters having the priesthood. But in that role, when the wolves are at the door, or the fire is raging-Priesthood holders have to put themselves in harms way for the benefit of others. Most sisters don’t want that.

    When you accept the priesthood, you accept that the things you want, and your well being come last always.

    Next Sunday, I dare any of you to look at the shoes, and study the condition of the suits that the Brothers wear, in comparison to their Wives. I bet you that you will not find a single brother who dresses better than his wife, but always the opposite. Old shoes that are broke down, compared to designer high heels. There is no oppression, or unrighteous dominion happening there.

    • As a feminist myself, I would disagree with your idea of what a feminist is. I would say that feminists that hate men are not true feminists, they are just angry women. If we would have “kept with the program” you wouldn’t have the priesthood now. God didn’t say no to blacks, the Church did. And that is what happens when we do not ask the Lord. There is policy and there is doctrine. The reality is that we have a policy on this, but we do not have any doctrine. It is time we got the word of the Lord on the matter so we can have doctrine. Keep in mind that the Church is true, not perfect. Only Christ is perfect and he lets us make mistakes, even the Church. This is how wicked people sometimes get callings. It doesn’t blemish the religion, it seals the fate of the wicked. There is nothing wrong with seeking answers, it is avoiding the questions we should fear. The Book of Mormon is clear, don’t listen when people say all is well in Zion. We are still working towards perfection. We aren’t there yet.

  10. Catholic Convert

    I too am a convert, Jana, and I simply don’t feel the same way you do with respect to women needing the priesthood. For about the first decade of being a new member, I was unsettled by the seemingly second-class citizen role I thought LDS women played. I personally never felt like a second-class citizen–the Lord blessed me from the very beginning of my discipleship to be aware of my own spiritual power–so I felt only annoyance when I perceived that women were viewed by some members of the Church, both male and female, as inferior. My heart went out to the women who believed themselves as inferior because I knew they weren’t rendered any less valuable because of their female gender.

    With time, I came to realize that this perceived second-class citizen role was simply an LDS cultural outgrowth of American society at large at the time. As women have become more and more equal to men in American society, I have seen men and women become more and more equal in gospel leadership roles.

    I don’t believe that Joseph Smith nor any of the subsequent presidents of the Church ever envisioned women as second-class citizens. A documented example is that Joseph sanctioned women giving blessings of healing in the early Church.

    Having been an LDS woman for almost 39 years now, I have a better understanding of the wise differentiation of stewardships between men and women. I love being an LDS woman. I don’t feel threatened by LDS men, nor do I feel inferior to them. I don’t need to be ordained to feel equal to them. I am equal to them.

    Eternal progression is not dependent upon gender; it is dependent upon obedience. Brigham Young said, in effect, that the Lord would pour down revelation upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints as fast as they would receive it. When an individual, male or female, is worthy of additional personal revelation, as evidenced by his or her obedience, he/she will receive it.

    D&C 130:18-19 reads: “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”

    I have come to know through experience that this scripture is true. My faith and obedience have earned me, by the grace of Jesus Christ, whatever additional intelligence I have gained since I was baptized. I am completely in charge of my own eternal progression, again thanks to the saving grace of Christ.

    I don’t need to be ordained to the priesthood. Nor do you. Nor does any woman. I don’t believe this issue is equivalent to the one in which not all men were able to be ordained until the 1978 revelation granting ordination to all worthy males. I don’t believe that women not being ordained to the priesthood is a matter of “ask, and ye shall receive”, as may have been the case with the 1978 revelation. (Whether the Lord was simply waiting for the right time to grant ordination to all worthy males or whether He needed to see fervent desire and prayer upon the part of the leaders of the Church on behalf of those worthy males who were not eligible to be ordained is not known by the membership at large. Suffice it to say that fervent desire and prayer were exercised by the leaders of the Church on behalf of their ineligible brethren, and the result was the 1978 revelation granting ordination to all worthy males.)

    I don’t believe that the Lord is waiting either for the right time or for fervent desire upon the part of the women and the leaders of the Church to bestow ordination upon his daughters. I don’t believe that ordination for His daughters is part of His plan, and I am so okay with that.

    • I agree that women don’t *need* ordination to be equal. I agree that women *are* equal.

      But what do you think about the fact that women could once comfortably lay their hands on their children with their husband or alone and offer up a blessing of healing… but now they cannot. Correlation effectively took the gift of healing away from the women.

      You may argue that they still can. I would agree, but most women would feel uncomfortable and if it were made known in a ward, many would feel uncomfortable with it and would assume that perhaps that woman was seeking authority and power unrighteously.

      I don’t believe that the issue of women and the priesthood is about equality as much as it is about filling the measure of our creation. I think women inherently know that they can harness the power of God and the gifts of the Spirit, but because our church has become so rigid and concerned about authority it stifles our creative use and openness to spiritual gifts. I believe that Joseph Smith intended to teach that priesthood is in its truest form male and female. Or what he would call the fullness of the priesthood. It is male and female, husband and wife.

      I think it is already present in the church. How would ordination of women hurt anything? How would it be detrimental to the men? Perhaps it would bring us together in greater unity and prepare us better to administer the blessings of the atonement upon our communities and families. Perhaps it would bring Zion to us where we are of one heart and one mind due to our love for one another–our hearts would be pure as we all exercised the power and authority of God for one another. Our lives would be full of ministering to the needs of others.

      Women already do this. Why do they need ordination? I don’t know that they do, but we certainly need further light and knowledge as to how men and women work together in the priesthood. We have not received all that there is to know. We can only prepare ourselves for further light and knowledge by asking questions and patiently awaiting the answer.

  11. I think the idea of petitioning the Church to make this change is as rational as petitioning the Church to let men carry and give birth to babies. It’s not that the priesthood is a male right that women could never have. The issue is that the movements pushing this issue seems to forget that it is the Lord that sets up the Church and who does what in it. Joseph Smith set up the Relief Society maybe that was good for then and women should get the priesthood now. But it is the Lord that directed Smith to set up the RS and it should be the Lord that allows women to receive the priesthood. When praying to see who gets what calling, I know of men that were not members called to positions that required them to be baptized and confirmed with the priesthood. Yet I have not heard of a woman being called and then rejected by the Church for not having the priesthood. The Lord could tell us He wants women ordained by calling them to positions that require the priesthood. And that’s what I’m looking for on this issue. I’m all for a new revelation declaring the Lord’s will on the matter. And, my thought on this issue is that this is what we should be asking for, revelation from God – not just a pass from the brethren. The question I feel LDS feminists should ask themselves is, what if there is a revelation and it says to keep the status quo? Any woman quick to say “we need it” or “we don’t need it” doesn’t get the issue, in my opinion. The real answer should be, “what does the Lord want?” No one bothered to ask the Lord what he wanted when it came to blacks and the priesthood. Let’s not make that mistake again.

    • Dave,

      The “Ordain Women” group and other feminists are doing exactly as you said. They are not asking for a “pass” from the brethren. They are asking them to prayerfully consider it and seek the revelation and guidance from the Lord. If you were to go to the Ordain Women website and read the profiles of many people there, they pretty much say the same thing. They honor, respect, and uphold the brethren as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators and they are simply asking that these matters be taken to the Lord for further light and knowledge on the matter.

      I’m also very confused by your comment: “No one bothered to ask the Lord what he wanted when it came to blacks and the priesthood. Let’s not make that mistake again.”

      Are you forgetting that the matter was prayerfully considered by David O. McKay and most especially by President Kimball? I’m pretty sure all of the brethren who were present when the revelation was confirmed would testify that the matter was very prayerfully considered and that there was no mistake as to the outpouring of the spirit and that it was indeed God’s will.

      Also, it sounds as if you think it was a mistake to extend priesthood blessings, including temple sealings, to all worthy black men and women and children. Am I reading you correctly when you call it a mistake?

      • They need to be more forthcoming about this when they are talking to reporters. Reading blog posts from both sides, it appears neither side is willing to enquirer of the Lord. I’m glad to see that is not the case for at least one side. I support the LDS feminist moment, so long as they are willing to follow the Lord, regardless of His level of “political correctness.”

      • Sorry, I forgot to mention the black-LDS issue. There was no revelation that stopped us from ordaining blacks to the priesthood – just a policy added by Brigham Young. Rather than inquire of the Lord if Smith or Young was correct, seeing that they both taught conflicting policies, the Church just pushed the status quo. We should have given blacks the priesthood the moment Young died (and really, he should never have taken it away from them). My point is that rather than wait again, the Brethren should go to the Lord now and not waste time trying to wait for the issue to resolve itself. To me the issue of women and the priesthood is very much like that of the question of blacks and the priesthood. The Bible talks of prophetesses, but this is not a calling we have today and we really do not know what the Bible really meant when it talked of prophetesses. Did they have the priesthood, or were they just really spiritual? We don’t know, we should know, so we should ask – as a Church. Hope that makes more sense.

      • Sorry, back again. I went to the FB page and found this:

        “Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormon women to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

        Please point me in the right direction, I’d like to read about the need for revelation, not just a change. Thanks!

        • Dave, Thanks for clarifying. I agree that we ought not to make the same mistake we made in NOT giving the blacks the priesthood and temple blessings.

          If you read the profiles of those posting to the Ordain Women website you will find many, if not most, of them citing their faith and support of the brethren and their desire for the brethren to council with one another and prayerfully seek the guidance of the Lord. It seems to me that they specifically stated that in an interview reported in one of the news outlets. I’ll try to find it. I agree that they should make that part of their mission statement. But the individuals posting seem to show their faith and respect of how important this issue is and that it would require a revelation from the Lord to those in a position to receive that revelation.

          • Thanks for looking. Don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t care what the posters want as they are just posters. It is the actual idea that I, as a person, would either reject or get behind – not the poster’s comments. I can get behind the need for revelation, I can’t get behind the idea that women should have the priesthood just to have it or just because they want it. Aaron’s seed was the only ones that got the roles that used the saving priesthood ordinances for a very long time. Today, both men and women use the priesthood in the temples to preform saving ordinances, so the idea of women passing the sacrament isn’t that out there. Maybe men will start joining the Relief Society and women elder’s quorum at some point, I’m not sure. But I am curious to see what the Lord has to say on the matter.

          • I think one should realize that our minds are not God’s mind One can only understand God through His Spirit. All that God does is spiritual not temporal as I believe this argument is.

            I know beyond a doubt that the Lord loves all of his children whether they be white, black, or whatever shade of tan or brown in between. All that he does is for the benefit of each of them. Through the history of the world there have been those whom the Lord has limited for their own protection and good.

            A prime example of this is Cain who because of his transgression was cursed and marked in order to protect him from the evil which is part of the condition of His children in our present mortal state where evil is a major part of our learning to become like God. For Cain that curse was a blessing. A curse (blessing) is for the purpose of protecting each of us so God can make us whole or complete, or if you will, perfect. I can’t speak for any religion but I can ponder the scriptures and conclude what the Savior is telling us.

            Just as the Jews were scattered among the nations for their own good I believe that the withholding of the priesthood from the blacks was for their good and salvation and or exaltation. I believe God knows the beginning from the end and I also believe that one day we will see the light and understand that all he has with held from each of us will be reason to praise Him forever. The with holding of the priesthood from the blacks was not just a blessing for them but was a blessing for all when one considers the prejudice we have for one another. The priesthood in my opinion was with held from them so God could bless them and along with them all other races on this planet.

            The gospel in it’s fulness is with held from many in the world today not because God is wrong but because more than 98% of the worlds population has not received or would not receive it when it has been presented to them. It was with held from me an American of Europe decent. Most of those in that nation have not yeat received the priesthood either. Most of those whom Moses lead out of bondage in Egypt had the priesthood with held from them.

            We should leave these things in the hands of the Lord’s servants and not demand that God bend to our will as Aaron and Mariam did and were punished for their rebellion. I prefer to let the prophets, seers, and revelators, as they are moved by the Holy Ghost to act as they are instructed by heavenly Father rather that try to second guess heavenly Father and His Son Jeus Christ. The things of God knoweth no man but by the Spirit.

    • Do you not know the history of the Relief Society? The Lord told Joseph Smith to organize the sisters *because the sisters were already organizing themselves*. The sisters asked, and the Lord answered through his prophet. That is absolutely NO DIFFERENT from women of today asking the prophet to ask the Lord about this matter.

      • What about women who never marry, Fred? What about women who never have children?

        There is no doubt in my mind that all who have not received that blessing in this life may if they choose, receive it in the next life.

        And for heaven’s sake, would you stop referring to women as “the female” as if we were animals?? Women don’t exist to complete men. Women don’t exist to simply help men make it to the celestial kingdom. We are individuals and important in our own right, not an appendage to men.
        I agree with the later part of your last paragraph here Stacy but am convinced by my study of the scriptures that the man & the woman exist to complete one another, I believe it is a partnership in which both are equal. Sorry if I wasn’t clear in explaining my position.

        It was God in heaven who made this statement according to Moses in the book of Genesis 1:27 and so God created man in His own image after His likeness, male and FEMALE created he them. In my opinion being a male or a female does not make either of them an animal. Although they have the option of choosing to be an animal or to strive to become like our heavenly Father it is after all up to us each individually. I had no intention of expressing the idea that a female was an animal. The prophets have said after all that the female was the crowing event of all of God’s creations and with that I agree. I bleieve that the woman was first and equal to a man who was second in terms of making the correct choice in the garden of Eden. My wife comes first in my life and is definitely my equal. I have been blessed to know many women who have not had children that I believe are very choice spirits of our heavenly Father and I don’t believe He will hold back any of His blessings to mankind forever if they choose to obediently follow Him no matter who they are.

  12. First, any man who thinks any woman is “less than” any man because she is a woman is an idiot, and I don’t like name calling. Any woman who thinks not having the priesthood is because she is less than any man in the church does not understand the gospel fully (but is far from being an idiot). In a talk on the subject many years ago, Elder William Critchlow, when asked why women do not have the priesthood replied, “I don’t know. I don’t pretend to know.” I’m in that camp. I do sustain our church leaders and feel if it were intended that sisters hold the priesthood, they would. I strongly disagree with Jana when she indicated that women are not being prepared to be priestesses. I think being a wife, motherhood, education, Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, temple service, missions and a host of other things are all preparing women to be priestesses. Are we saying these things are not enough? Are we smarter than the Lord? Do we believe the church is run by revelation? I am grateful for Jana and all of those great women who would label themselves as feminists. Their example of excellence is important. But at the same time, I think of my great grandmother who I was privileged to know. She was born in the 1870′s. She raised children, ran a business and was an equal partner with my great grandfather in every way (Actually, she ran the show.). She knew she could do whatever she wanted to and took a back seat to no one. if she had a problem with someone, she confronted that person kindly, but in no uncertain terms. She was not a part of any feminist movement. She knew who she was and so did everyone else. By citing her example, I am not trying to demean feminism or any of the posts on this board. I deeply respect the opinions I disagree with. If we feel women ought to hold the priesthood and if we really believe in the restored gospel, rather than publishing it on websites, however, I feel we ought to get on our knees and go to the Source. That’s where change will come from if it is to be.

  13. Edward Bailey

    A few documented facts. Not speculation, not historical references taken out of context. First-hand diary references are clear that women performed more healing, anointing, and charismatic gifts than they are permitted to now. I believe many have a hope for a restoration of the blessings women once administered in the church. For example Joseph Smith Sr., in a patriarchal blessing to Eda Rogers in 1837, blessed her saying, “Thou shalt lay thy hands on them and they shall recover.” Also, when women would regularly administer to the sick during the Nauvoo Relief Society meetings, there were detractors, but Joseph Smith the prophet rebuked them, and said in 1842, “according to revelation, it [was] proper for women to administer to the sick by the laying on of hands and that the healing of the sick should follow all that believe, whether male or female.” Louisa Pratt wrote in her diary clearly that the signs that follow those that believe in my name, they shall cast out devils, etc. He made no distinction of sexes.” Patty Sessions administered by the laying of hands on the sick jointly with her husband at Winter Quarters. While the men were gone on the Mormon Battalion Eliza R. Snow frequently organized women to administer blessings by the laying on of hands for healing and comfort. We also have documented the administration of a special washing and anointing, and blessing by the laying on of hands before childbirth into the 1920′s. Today, women administer high and holy ordinances in the temple endowment as well as the highest blessing available while in this life; i.e. the second anointing crowning blessing of her husband when acting in the fullness of the matriarchal order as a Priestess and Queen. So it is not a difficult extension to restore again was originally restored and practiced by the Relief Society sisters.

    • The problem is that historically, members of the Church were/are not always doing things correctly and notes from diaries are not doctrine. Women that work in the temple still hold the priesthood, so to some extent the accounts you mentioned are still echoed today. Yet until we get new revelation and that revelation is sustained by the Church all we have to go on is what we have now.

      • Edward Bailey

        This is sounding remarkably reminiscent of the statements made by Abraham Smoot and Zebedee Coltrin. When Joseph Smith ordained Elijah Abel an Elder on March 3, 1836 was he acting correctly and in accordance with church doctrine? It is difficult to get more authoritative than the presiding Patriarch of the church, acting prophet, former plural wife of the restoration prophet, and 2nd presiding general president of the Relief Society.

      • The notes from diaries are not representative a small group of people performing fringe practices. These practices were not only documented in diaries but official church minutes and histories. Women also often went to the temple to be washed and anointed, not for someone who had been deceased, but for themselves, by a priestess, as a blessing for comfort, strength, and/or healing. Men did this too. We used to go to the temple for more than proxy work. We also held prayer circles more frequently in homes and in meeting houses.

        Correlation is the movement that snuffed all of this out. It was also a reaction–a retrenchment–to the women’s movement in the 60′s and 70′s. It was fear. People were afraid that the ERA would force women into the military and force people to have non-gendered bathrooms etc. Stuff that never would have happened. I believe we are still afraid. We are afraid that if women have the priesthood then there will be no difference between the sexes, women won’t need men and men won’t need women. But no one is asking for that. Modern Mormon Feminists (Men and Women) believe strongly in the differences between the sexes and are fighting to preserve and protect those differences.

        It is clear that when women were healing, blessing, and laying on hands and seeing it as an extension of the priesthood they received in the temple, it only gave them strength, independence AND they were a greater support to the men in blessing their families and children. They were a tremendous force for good in supporting the administrative affairs of the church. All of that was snuffed out by the force of correlation. Many of the things women were doing were taken away from them and made “priesthood (men) only” duties. Women will no longer lay their hands on their children to bless for health or comfort lest they be thought of as apostate feminists seeking to be identical to men, being men haters, seeking to destroy the family.

        We are afraid as a people. Satan has won a great victory on this one.

  14. Janna,

    I have been thinking about your wondering about why it is that about half of the men surveyed thought it would be a good thing for women to have the priesthood and that many of the women did not think to desire it.

    I hold the priesthood. I sought it when I was young–particularly the ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood. As soon as I was 18 I went to my bishop and asked if I could be ordained to be an elder.

    I was not seeking position, power, voice, or reputation. I was seeking a connection to my Father in Heaven as son of God. I had strained relations with my father growing up and I overcame the hurt and negativity by connecting to my Father in Heaven.

    The Priesthood is sooooo much more for me that it is about positions, status, and voice, and even influence. I am one of those that is seriously afraid of ever having high and important callings. I do what I can to appear less faithful (wearing bow-ties, not wearing suits, wearing colorful shirts to church etc. and voicing my liberal progressive thoughts) so that I don’t have to have positions that require so much time and sacrifice. (Perhaps that reflects on my character more than I’d wish).

    But my point is that I desire for women to hold the priesthood because I know how it has transformed me and has sustained me in goodness. It has connected to me with God. It has boosted my self image from when I was very young when I needed that boost desperately. It allowed me to transcend serious discouragement, abuse, and opposition in my life. It allowed me to gain the strength to overcome read adversity and strive to be a better husband and father to my children than my dad had been to me.

    I believe that women can desire this same connection without desiring political power and position within the church. I believe that as much as I needed that connection to God when I was a young man, every young woman needs that same connection to God (Mother and Father). I believe women seeking that connection do not harbor an unrighteous desire. But are as righteous as Abraham was when he sought the rights and blessings belonging to the fathers. He wanted to be a good father. I believe women seeking the priesthood seek only a stronger connection to God so they can be better mothers, wives, and women.

    I was also an ordinance worker for a couple of years and have been part of administering the sacrament for about 30 years now. I know how powerful spiritual learning is when you are part of a ritual or ordinance. There is something that happens to your body, mind, and spirit when they are all part of the process. I want so much for my wife and daughters to have this same experience. I think you have made an important insight–I believe many men will overlook this because they themselves haven’t paid much attention to this in their own lives and haven’t made the connection of how this might possibly be a good thing for women too.

    I believe the women surveyed did not desire the priesthood because of what Correlation has done to our perception of what is right and proper. These women are obedient and faithful. It is one of the highest tenets of our faith to “follow the brethren.” I believe this is why the women surveyed would say they do not desire it. They are faithful and obedient women with a strong witness of the truthfulness of the gospel they follow. They have felt the blessings strongly and perhaps may not feel the need to have “priesthood.” And I believe in a way they are right… because they are referring to the socially constructed priesthood of the 20th century–post correlation. This priesthood has lost a lot of the life it once had when the latter-day saints viewed the priesthood has being grounded in the temple where it was clear that men and women together exercised the fullness of the priesthood. They rejoiced in their spiritual gifts.

    But out of a desire to be obedient and faithful, they were equally as forceful in holding to the new standard when such gifts were taken away and made to be the privilege of the men. That is when Priesthood became “The Men.”

    But now we have heard more than one apostle say in General Conference that “Men are not the Priesthood.” Yet they seem to be afraid to make the next logical step, and that is to say that priesthood transcends gender and the power thereof is open to all.

  15. Phillip C. Smith

    I believe that LDS Church leaders sincerely want to do the will of God. I would think that they have often thought and prayed as to what God wishes for his daughters. They are asking, seeking, and willing to do what God would have them do. If God wants his daughters to have the same kinds of callings and assignments in mortality as do the men, he will make it known to these leaders. I know many of them. They truly want to do what is right. Let us support them in their efforts.

    • Philip, I agree that we should support them in their efforts. I also agree that they are sincerely seeking guidance.

      Do you feel that it is unsupportive to ask our own questions and to seek understanding?

      Do you feel that it is unsupportive for women and men to state why they think it makes sense to ordain women?

      I feel that discussing, asking questions, and expressing one’s views is an expression of faith, trust, respect, and support.

      Does ordaining women mean they will have identical callings and roles? Perhaps there would be quorums of women separate from quorums of men with unique roles and responsibilities. These roles and responsibilities would have been something the men and the women of the church had received guidance from the lord on in their quest for further light and knowledge.

      Is that a possibility for you?

    • Thanks Christopher; Thiis really explains it in simple language and you are so right it is facinating. I believe the things quoted from the general authorities is made very clear by this dear sister.

  16. Let me say that I fully support the ordination of women.

    Most often, we hear that male and female roles are separate, as if leadership pertained solely to men by divine right. I certainly understand the cultural and historical underpinnings of this view, but on closer examination, it just doesn’t make sense.

    For all the talk in church about the sacred role of women, the all-male leadership continues to place women in a secondary position in relation to the material practices of the organization. For example, Mormons are quick to point out that the Relief Society is the largest organization in the world for women, but they will never tell you that the ultimate decision-making power resides in the hands of MEN. Honestly, does anyone genuinely believe that the Relief Society makes any major decision without the approval of the male general authorities?

    On the local level, I once served in a bishopric where the ward leaders spoke openly about their love, admiration, and respect for women, but behind closed doors, they routinely made material decisions against the interests of the women in the ward. In particular, the young women’s president was never allowed to represent her own budget requests to the bishopric. Instead, she was required to submit her request to the young men’s president, who then relayed the message on her behalf. Of course, the young woman’s president never got to know the comparative dollar amounts, so she had no idea whether her request was reasonable or not. Not surprisingly, the final young men’s budget was typically 30-40% larger than the young women’s budget. Also, her final budget allotment was often 10-15% less than her original request.

    The discrepancy became even more blatant when the young men were routinely approved for elaborate and expensive “high adventure” trips in exciting locations in other states, but the young women were obligated to stay at a local church camp that was routinely disparaged by the members as a “hole in the ground.” In all my years in the church, I never saw a young women’s “high adventure” or anything even remotely comparable.

    At one point, I raised my concerns about excluding the young women’s organization from our budget meetings. I also suggested that we were committing an injustice by providing less for the women than we did the men. The bishop became visibly agitated and said that the young women did not hold the priesthood and were thus not entitled to speak during the Priesthood Executive Committee where all budgetary decisions were made. He also said that the young men were more likely to go astray, so we HAD to provide better activities for them.

    I was deeply disturbed by his response.

    I have no idea if the practice of excluding the young women’s president from budget meetings was specific to our ward or a general practice of the church. I also don’t wish to suggest that all priesthood leaders believe the same as my previous bishop. In my experience, most LDS leaders behave ethically and respectfully toward all members of the church, both male and female.

    For me, the fatal error of the church lies in its policy. As long as gender inequality exists in church POLICY, women will always be at the mercy of their individual leaders. Some men are righteous and fair. Others are benevolent, but ignorant. Still others are blatantly sexist. Unfortunately, nothing in church policy protects women from male leaders who behave through either ignorance or malice.

    As it says in Mosiah 29:16: “…because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.” The Book of Mormon clearly identified the problems of absolute rule and the absence of authentic representation by the people. In fact, it can be argued that the Book of Mormon provides a strong theological foundation for the democratic process, and yet as a church, we insist that it is both desirable and righteous to deny ecclesiastical representation to 50% of our people who happen to be women. Why is it that Mormons celebrate democracy in the political sphere, but regard democracy in the church as a threat to religious life?

    At the end of the day, I really don’t care to hear another sermon or conference talk about the virtues of womanhood. It doesn’t matter to me how much the leadership SAYS it honors, loves, respects, and cherishes women. Just as faith without works is dead, words without action are meaningless. I support the ordination of women because in a priesthood dominated church, the priesthood is really the voice of the people. It is the ability to both think and act for yourself. We will never have equality in the church until women have an equal part in the decision-making process at all levels, both local and global.

    • barry; I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the tune “The Hand that Rocks the Craddle Rules the World” but I can tell you their never was a trurer statement. I believe all of this chatter is nothing more than an effort on the part of some (not all) to soil not only the Church of Jesus Christ but to belittle the to preside over the church the Lord’s apostles & prophets. Here again I am a mere man meaning that I am not perfect. The hand of the Lord is those men (male & female) whom he calls by the Holy Ghost and I do believe those he has called has a far greater knowledge of God’s will than you or I or for that matter any of the members whether they be male or female. If one looks at things pertaining to the Church of Jesus Christ they would obviously come up with the worldly position you have presented. It isn’t always as cut and dried as one may think. Many of the instructions give prophets in the past 190 yeas were rejected by a great number of the membership and even those among the leadership of the church but just as the Lord through Daniel revealed that this kingdom will not be given to another people. Most of the citzens of these United States in the 1800′s was convinced that the church would not survive this kind of condemnation by the general citizenry of the USA but it has survived all of the attacks from the fist day of organization and will continue to prosper until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and completes putting all enemies under His feet. I hope this don’t sound to harsh. I can tell you tha tthe Holy Ghost has revealed to me that those whom he has placed under his direction in the church are his servants whom he included in a verse of scripture in the D&C whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same. All are entitled to their opinion and I would not desire to rob anyone of that sacred constitutional right, but the messaage I have received from the Holy Ghost is that the Lord is well pleased with his called and anointed. I do believe the scriptures and the progress of the kingdom of God on the earth is substantive evidence of that fact. I would think if a bishopric has not performed the will of heavenly Father in the duties of their calling, that will be between them and the Godhead I do know some brethren have failed I’m sure but that has nothing to do with me. When we are able to see the total picture I am 100% sure it will at that point be very clear to all of us who are limited in our vision of the beginning the middle and the end.

  17. I’m a bit frustrated by all the comments that women are mothers women are mothers women are mothers.

    Not all women are mothers. Quite a large percentage of the church is women who have never been married or had children, actually. I’d love to have children, but that’s not the only thing I’m capable of.

    And I really, really wish men would stop referring to women as “females.” We’re not animals. It feels very objectifying.

    • Stacy; If you knew my wife you would know that even she is not just a mother a most important mission on earth but she is a woman of many talents, her motherhood is one of the many blessings that heavenly Father has given her, a blessing that all do not receive at the same time in their mortal life, and some not until they pass to the other side and are resurrected. That does not make you less than the special person you are. I use the word female in the biblical sense to show that when God speaks of the male and female he is speaking of man for the two are to become one both the man and the woman. I do place my faith in my heavenly Father and even though I listen to what others have to say I place my trust and His earthly servans His apostles and prophets. servants on earth.

    • You mean you are married and have not received the blessings that come under the hands of your wife? That must mean I am really blessed for my wife has not ceased to be a blessing to me since that special day on 18 October 1959.

  18. Thank you all for you comments! They were very uplifting and inspirational!

    Women are precious to God. Equal to men in his sight. In the Garden of Eden immediately after man is created God said “It is not good for the man should be alone. I will make an help meet for him”

    A “help meet” is another word for help mate. A help mate is a companion. There is significance where The Lord took from Adam to ultimately create Eve, a rib.

    Not a bone near the head or a bone beneath the waist, but the rib. Near the heart. His side where their desire would be to each other.

    Will the day come when a woman can use the priesthood in blessings and other duties beyond the temple? Yes, however I don’t think it will be in a way we expect at all.

    For God said my ways are not your ways.

    As many have said here and the Church leadership that men and women attain the highest blessings God has to offer together.

    It makes sense and is according to the plans of God that we can have greater blessings, but it is on condition of obedience now to what we have today that will determine our blessings tomorrow. That includes the priesthood.

    Every man who holds the priesthood should know we as mortal individuals have no power or blessings to offer except from God. It is God’s power that we can only exercise in authority as long as we are worthy. The measure of our worth and ability to hold the priesthood is found in section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    The moment we do what is contrary to that we no longer have access to the power of God or authority to speak or act in his name. Does that mean imperfect as we are God can’t use imperfect men? Of course not, but to be sure we are in harmony with the laws and commandments of God we need to follow them now and endure in these things.

    I do not doubt there are greater blessings through the priesthood that are available to men and women. A perfection of the priesthood of God that can only be achieved between a married man and women. It is not yet, but will be.

    For example as the world becomes a more dangerous and wicked place men and women with this perfect priesthood will be able to preach, teach and perform miracles that current single male and female missionaries can not.

    The distinction could be they are called gatherers instead of missionaries to rescue those in the mist of corruption, evil and sorrow. Who cry to The Lord for help and the gatherers will be there. (I like the book series the Seventh Seal, Book 3 Final Hour.)

    The blessings we have now are incredible! Healing the sick and even raising the dead! I know from my experience this is true. By living a life that is in obedience to God these blessings are possible.

    Thank you again for your comments and inspiration. :-)

  19. I am a Mormon who was Episcopalian when I was younger. When I was younger, the Episcopal Church in the US had about 4,000,000 members; today it has less than 2,000,000. The biggest drop came after they began “ordaining” women, contradicting 1,900 years of Christian history. Many of us saw this novelty as “playing church”.
    It would be easier in the LDS Church. All it would take would be a new revelation to the prophet and the apostles. So far that has not come.

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