Guest Post: Priesthood and Gender — Working Toward a More Godlike Understanding

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Heavenly Mother, priesthood, women | 43 comments

by Annie B.

In conversations about gender inequality in the LDS church, the biggest point I’ve seen made from those who are comfortable with the status quo and against the LDS feminist movement is that the status quo is the way God wants things.  I’ve seen and heard this point claimed both in online forums and in person, concerning everything from the figurative burqa surrounding Heavenly Mother to male-only Priesthood.

My question is this: Why do you assume that a male-only priesthood (insert other gender unequal policy here) is a principle that comes from God and not from mankind’s limited understanding?

Priesthood was first given to men in a time period when women were basically seen as the possessions of men. Considering the cultural norms of Bible times, it’s not surprising that throughout the Bible women are almost invisible as spiritual leaders, and all our scriptural texts are written by men (as far as I know). Even in Joseph Smith’s time, the choices of women were seen as secondary in importance to the choices of their husbands, and this cultural idea bled into the doctrine (see D&C 132). Today, in some countries women are still seen as possessions. Women in the U.S. have only had the right to vote for 92 years and bastions of old thinking remain.

It’s clear to me that past cultural ideas about women bled into past religious practices, and still color LDS doctrine today. God does not teach principles to mankind that they have not the ability to comprehend. He teaches line upon line. I believe in Bible times the cultural ideas about women were so rudimentary that many men could not even comprehend Heavenly Father having a truly equal female companion, our Heavenly Mother, and could not comprehend women as spiritual equals, let alone authorities. I believe that is still the reason why women are not given the authority to use their priestesshood in a routine capacity in the LDS church today. I believe that is the reason why the LDS church still cannot tell us more about our Heavenly Mother other than that she exists, and still forbids us from praying to her.  We now know that we have a Heavenly Mother, and we know from temple ordinances that women are to become priestesses. I don’t believe it is God that is holding back revelation, I believe mankind’s limited understanding is. I believe the only figurative burqa surrounding Heavenly Mother is the one mankind has place on her because much of mankind still cannot comprehend her active role and leadership in our spiritual progression.  I believe the idea of gender equality brings us closer to a more Godlike understanding, and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with working toward a more Godlike understanding.

My faith in God and my testimony have been questioned directly and indirectly because of my beliefs.  I believe (hope) that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.  I believe that the key to gaining a greater understanding of God is to apply what Christ taught was most important to our salvation, to love God and each other, and to sympathize with those that are in pain (bear one another’s burdens, even if they are women).  I have faith in a God and Goddess who are equals in the eternities.  I have faith (hope) that one day this principle will be understood on earth and that the LDS church will one day recognize women as spiritual equals to men and no longer forbid us from praying to and having a personal relationship with our Heavenly Mother.  I very much hope that someday these principles will be reflected through a change in policies in the LDS church organization.  My question to those who believe that these are not Godly principles, that we should not try to work towards these goals is…what is it that you hope for?  What does this say about what you choose to believe about women and Heavenly Mother?  And do you believe that God has revealed all that he will reveal?

Annie B. is a wife, and mother of two girls.  She serves as nursery leader in her ward.  In addition to caring for her husband and girls, her endeavors include marathon running, hula-hoop dancing, and teaching group fitness classes.

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43 Comments

  1. “Priesthood was first given to men in a time period when women were basically seen as the possessions of men.”

    This is not exactly true. Priesthood was given to Adam. I do not think that Eve was considered his possession. At least, not in the sense that things evolved in to. There is no evidence that Eve was given the Priesthood. I think that is an important precedent.

    • This would be referring to times when it could be given, not to the time Priesthood was only inherited.

      We have no details on what Priesthoods were given to Adam and Eve (aside from modern temple rites, which only mention being anointed to become Priests and Priestesses). The details we have of that time are through a lens at least 2000 years afterward, in a time when women were considered inferior and unclean.

      • Well said. What we know about Adam and Eve in terms of their daily life is minimal and far removed from the original source. While we can still learn from the story, it isn’t much to go by in terms of gender relationships at the dawn of time.

    • Davis is right. The book of Moses makes it clear that Adam held the Melchizedek Priesthood. It may not be clear whether or not Eve held any priesthood but it is clear that from the beginning of this earth the order has been for a man to receive the priesthood from either his father or another priesthood holder. I think it’s a weak argument to say that the priesthood of God was molded or manipulated by the prejudice of men in some obscure time in the past- And that we still live with the remnants of that base thinking even after the Christ lived on the earth and still even after Joseph Smith and the restoration. There have been multiple opportunities for the priesthood to have been given to women and it could have been clearly taught and documented.

      It was just taught in the most recent general conference by Elder Dickson, “… That in our day all of Heavenly Father’s children worldwide can partake of all of the blessings of the restored gospel.” I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but it does appear that women have never officially held the priesthood. Another important note- they are also not specifically limited as God’s children because of this.

      I’ve heard it many times before and believe that equal does not mean it has to be the same.
      You can read in the most recent Ensign article titled, “Equal Partnership in Marriage” about the difference. Elder Ballard says, “Men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles…men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood.”

      I feel that men and women can be equal without women holding the priesthood in the same capacity as men.

      • What do you mean when you say “hold the priesthood”?

        Joseph Smith taught that women receive the Melchizedek priesthood through their personal endowment. This leads me to believe that some women do hold the priesthood, in their own right, rather than through their sealing ordinance or relationship to their husband. I do concede that women are not currently ordained to an office in the priesthood.

      • Davis I did I overlook the Adam/Eve sequence of events in my overview of ideas. I think that even considering that history and the context under which it’s recorded and brought to our knowledge, including modern temple covenants, that my point still stands.

        Jace: “It may not be clear whether or not Eve held any priesthood”

        Temple covenants make it clear that she was anointed to become a priestess, as are women. Also, women administer the washing and anointing covenants in the temple. It’s pretty hard to administer a priesthood ordinance without the priesthood.

        “I think it’s a weak argument to say that the priesthood of God was molded or manipulated by the prejudice of men”

        I think it’s an oblivious argument to say that societal gender ideas have not and do not currently manipulate the way mankind interprets God’s teachings, including God’s teachings concerning the priesthood and concerning the nature of our Heavenly Mother and women.

        “Men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles…men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood.”

        That’s an interesting assertion considering that in LDS temple rites there are clear references to female priesthood, as well as females wielding the priesthood every day in temples across the globe while they administer the washing and anointing covenants. I too believe that men and women are entrusted with different but equally significant roles. Those roles are fatherhood and motherhood.

        Again: “I think it’s a weak argument to say that the priesthood of God was molded or manipulated by the prejudice of men….And that we still live with the remnants of that base thinking even after the Christ lived on the earth and still even after Joseph Smith and the restoration. There have been multiple opportunities for the priesthood to have been given to women and it could have been clearly taught and documented.”

        It’s not that weak, considering the quote you cited from Elder Ballard, and your own sentiments. Many men, though the evidence is there, still cannot–or choose not– to acknowledge our Heavenly Mother’s active role as a Priestess and Goddess alongside our Heavenly Father, and cannot or choose not to comprehend Her daughters’ divine potentials, and current roles as spiritual leaders with validity and Godly sanction equal to that of their brothers.

      • I never said that the teaching of God haven’t been manipulated. I specifically pointed out the fact that throughout history, even when Christ lived and through the whole process of the restoration, the priesthood was not formally conferred on any woman. Your point is only valid if you can prove that from the beginning of time every prophet or generation of people has undermined the value and potential of women to deny them their spiritual rights- and I don’t believe that has happened.

        Elder Ballard denied the idea that men and women will only be equal when women exercise the priesthood in the same capacity as men. You go so far as to assume that the only way a Heavenly Mother could possibly exist in the way that you want Her to is if she was equal in virtually every way to our Heavenly Father. Why can’t they be different and equal in their responsibilities just like Elder Ballard taught men and women are now?

        Do you have answers to how women perform those roles in the temple if they haven’t been ordained to the priesthood? And why is that even evidence that women should now all be ordained to the priesthood?

        You can disagree with me and that’s obviously fine. You can even disagree with a prophet of God, but you will have to continue to stretch what little evidence there is to support this common feminist theme. You do not have an innate ability to decide which men have adequate comprehension of the divine potential of women simply because they disagree with you.

      • “You do not have an innate ability to decide which men have adequate comprehension of the divine potential of women simply because they disagree with you.”

        Interesting—but a prophet, or you, claim to have the innate ability to decide what my, or other women’s divine potential is simply because ……? Let me be clear, I’m not trying to push my opinion on to you or anyone else, I’m simply pushing centuries of misogynistic ones off of me. And posing legitimate questions which you haven’t answered.

        That which can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. And that which has been around for a *really *really* long time is no substitution for evidence that it is a sound, just, and Godly principle. Gender is very obviously God-given, although sometimes biological abnormalities play a role. Priesthood authority is a role, a policy, a way to keep things organized, but sadly can be claimed by a group exclusively based on gender or otherwise, sanctioned by God or not. It should not be confused or illogically likened to anything like hair color or x/y chromosomes, as though no meddling or earthly interpretation has anything to do with it. In times past when spiritual leaders believed women to be unclean, it didn’t mean God believed them to be unclean. The belief actually said more about the men than it did about God. Being born in this dispensation doesn’t make us any less likely to project our own flawed, misogynistic, or prejudice ideas into our understanding of God. In fact I think one of the biggest mistakes of our time period will be in keeping ourselves from progressing because of a misguided belief that we’ve already arrived.

      • One other point:
        Jace: “Elder Ballard denied the idea that men and women will only be equal when women exercise the priesthood in the same capacity as men. You go so far as to assume that the only way a Heavenly Mother could possibly exist in the way that you want Her to is if she was equal in virtually every way to our Heavenly Father. Why can’t they be different and equal in their responsibilities just like Elder Ballard taught men and women are now?”

        Reality shows us Mothers and Fathers, Women and Men. They are different biologically, but in their roles as fathers and mothers they do many of the same tasks: change diapers, provide shelter, cook, teach, etc. Doing those same tasks or responsibilities doesn’t make them the same. No matter what, one is still the father, and one is still the mother, and each go about doing those tasks in their own different ways. The things that they *must* do differently (inseminate vs. receive insemination, give birth vs. provide comfort, nurse vs. give support) are designated by biological limitations. My question is this: Why is it that you and church leaders insist that, even though fathers and mothers can and do share the same tasks and responsibilities as parents (the tasks that are not dictated by biology) and can still maintain their gender identities and status as “different”—why is it that you believe they absolutely could not share tasks and responsibilities of a spiritual nature, with equal, but gender specific, Godly authority and sanction, and still maintain their differentiation and gender identities? I’m asking for logical reasoning besides “because God said so” as that doesn’t help me or give me any evidence as to why it is a true and just principle, which is what I go by to determine whether something is actually from God or not.

      • “Why is it that you believe they absolutely could not share tasks and responsibilities of a spiritual nature, with equal, but gender specific, Godly authority and sanction, and still maintain their differentiation and gender identities?”

        That’s funny that you ask that because I already believe men and women share responsibilities of a spiritual nature… and that they are equal… authorized and sanctioned by God… and the responsibilities are specific to gender. But in case I haven’t made it clear, those responsibilities can be fulfilled in different ways and I don’t believe that is a bad thing.

        You have twisted my words to make it sound like I’m arguing that if someone ate pizza for dinner every night of their life then the only logical and right thing for them to eat forever would be more pizza. When Adam was given the priesthood, and God was there, why wasn’t it given to Eve in the same capacity? Why was that responsibility passed from father to son in the very beginning? Then, when Christ came why didn’t He “fix” it and start then to ordain women to the priesthood? And then when Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the Gospel, why didn’t Peter, James and John ask where Emma was so they could ordain her? It’s almost like you’re saying that at moments when God was clearly and closely involved in the events of mankind, that some misogynistic men stepped in and continued to mess it up.

        God has said, and I take a quick liberty in using my own words here, that He will use His prophets to communicate His messages. Yes, I’m well aware of personal revelation- but on issues like priesthood that pertain to the whole church and world I think He still does use His chosen, proven method. Obviously you don’t feel satisfied with that method and I agree that it doesn’t offer all the answers. I believe the Quorum of the Twelve is highly aware of many of these issues even if you feel that they are not. I find it ironic when you dismiss recurring events from scriptures and counsel from modern prophets only to say that that’s not how you decide if it’s from God. How do YOU decide? How are we supposed to come to these logical conclusions that you want if we all decide based on how we individually see the world?

        I will say that I find no reason why this structure couldn’t be changed. I don’t understand all the implications that might have and I dare say that neither do you. On the other hand, I find several reasons to support my idea that it hasn’t needed to be changed, that it isn’t a vital necessity to the salvation of women and men, and that the arguments for it now seem to be based on individual preference- i.e. your idea that men can’t or won’t comprehend the divine potential of women.

      • I have to admit, it continues to baffle me when anyone claims that an arrangement where men claim a monopoly on Godly authority exclusively, and dictate to women what their divine role is and what God wants of them, can be anything close to “equal but different responsibilities”. “Different” roles are a given, and inherent without any help from any exclusivity mankind can construct. Equal but different is nothing like the arrangement the LDS church currently teaches. Can you explain how an arrangement where men only are designated the official mouthpieces of God, and women are considered unfit or unable or “not meant to” be mouthpieces of God, can be anything close to equal?

        Also, there are precious few references in the bible that suggest some women did conduct priesthood ordinances, as well as references to Prophetesses. There are also claims that at one time biblical texts contained references to a Heavenly Mother but have been scrubbed out over time. The clues are there. To say that Jesus would have made the whole gender thing right when he came if it was meant to be is like saying that he would have freed the Jews from slavery had slavery really been wrong.

      • “Why is it that you believe they absolutely could not share tasks and responsibilities of a spiritual nature, with equal, but gender specific, Godly authority and sanction, and still maintain their differentiation and gender identities?”

        What I meant by authorized and sanctioned by God, is that Male Priesthood holders in the LDS church organization are currently designated as the holders and wielders of Godly authority and Sanction *above* that of Women. That is not equal. I was not saying “why can’t women’s roles be authorized and sanctioned by God?”. No….to say that LDS women’s current roles are authorized and sanctioned by God would be like saying “Of course women have authority and sanction from God equal to that of men. Men have clearly dictated to women what that authority and sanction is…so long is doesn’t disagree with the men’s authority and sanction.”

      • “I find it ironic when you dismiss recurring events from scriptures and counsel from modern prophets only to say that that’s not how you decide if it’s from God.”

        I find it ironic that you completely overlook every instance of biblical mysogyny that has been recorded. The Bible documents very grievous prophetic mistakes, prophetic mysogyny, and societal ills that at the time were considered acceptable under the eyes of God. Things that we now know aren’t. Thank heavens we have since received further light and knowledge, like that women are not unclean and should be allowed in temples, that rapists should not have full rights to marry and have jurisdiction over their victims. I’m sure the people of those time periods felt secure in the false assumption that their prophet would let them know if those things were wrong too. A prophet is no substitution, and no excuse for not looking around and determining for ourselves what’s right and wrong, and using the light of christ we’ve all been given.

      • This is from the church’s website. It has some very good insight regarding how a prophet functions, and how we are to receive them, in our lives. I find it applicable to this discussion since you feel that their counsel can be so easily replaced with what you determine for yourself. Once again, you are free to disagree.

        “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.

        Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God’s will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.

        We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).”

        So when Elder Ballard or any other apostle has counsel regarding marriage, family, priesthood or any other vital principle of the gospel, it will always hold more weight and value than your opinion or mine. I am confident that when it is God’s will, women will surely be ordained to the priesthood. Hopefully we can at least agree on that.

    • The woman was made from Adam’s rib because it was not meet for man to be alone. How can this scripture not imply male ownership?

  2. I think you are exactly right.
    Thanks for sharing so well.
    S

  3. Thanks for this. I don’t think I ever really thought about that part of the 13th article of faith. I mean I always rattled off the “we believe God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” but I never really thought about it. I do believe in continuing revelation, but “great and important” goes beyond reminders to stop being awful given by revelation in General Conference. It makes me wonder, and feel excited, to think that in my life some great and important thing will be revealed to us. If it were about our Heavenly Mother, or the priesthood for women, or something that pertained to me as a woman it would be even more wonderful.

  4. Lovely post. I’m one of those who looks forward to the return of Priestesses and Prophetesses, and very much hope we can be ready for it sooner rather than later.

    One of the difficulties I have with the current movement is that work toward fixing the small things seems to have stopped in favor of wanting all the attention on the large change. The previous movements had done well to bring attention to sexist issues like unclean women in temples, what women wear to church, and praying in conference. They helped raise excitement for the unexpected changes, like the mission leadership shift (which I hope to hear experiences from soon). These have all helped open eyes and hearts to the possibilities we’re missing out on. With the concentration on ordination, how do we get attention back on the smaller changes that need to be made before it, like fixing the endowment and marriage wording (even just a little), or integrating Sunday School Presidencies, or an admission that HM exists beyond the collective Heavenly Parents?

    • Frank, the “small things” are very important to me too, but I remember an anecdote that I heard told to me about Lorie Winder–a long time advocate of Latter-day Saint women’s ordination. She suggested that by establishing a border, other Mormon feminists (including those advocating specifically for “small” changes) look more reasonable, as well as less threatening.

      I think she may have something there, because while many members are not ready to even discuss the possibility of women being ordained to the priesthood, they may be willing to accept more gentle measures. (However, if Pants is any measure, many are still not quite ready for that.)

    • Thanks, I think I can understand what you mean about work toward fixing the small is stopped in favor of fixing the large. I’m definitely guilty of that, but not because I don’t care or see the value in the small changes. I go to as much church as I can muster but even just going to my nursery calling, I come home in a daze as I painfully process everything I just experienced. My husband jokingly calls me a zombie but it hurts. It hurts a lot. There are times when I can’t even handle reading the Exponent Blog. Honestly, going to church and engaging in conversations about gender equality in the LDS church to work towards small changes, only to be told by the organization exactly what my potential is (which happens to be much less than what God tells me it is), feels like putting myself in an abusive situation and makes me feel so far from God. Sometimes I’m strong enough to not come away emotionally and spiritually depleted. Sometimes it’s worth it when I’m able to give hope to someone else, or see a small step in the right direction, but sometimes, it’s just not. I still need to function. I still need to be there for my kids. It’s tough finding a balance, to work on those small steps while not losing sight of the big picture. Sometimes balance dictates I stay where I feel closest to God, where we’re already making big steps, for my own well-being, or the well-being of my family.

      I don’t have an answer, I don’t know how to get the attention back on the small changes, maybe because I think the reasoning behind the big changes is the same reasoning that’s behind the small ones, and sadly that reasoning is still too different of an idea for many to accept.

      • Annie B. You have communicated many of the thoughts and feelings that I had as a young woman (and nursery leader) during the 70′s and the upheaval in the church surrounding the equal amendment. I used to come home from church feeling bruised and battered, but praying that things would get better. They never did. When I left the church and became Presbyterian, gender as related to service was such a non-issue that I was astounded. It was just assumed that women and men could serve as deacons or elders if they were called and felt inspired to respond to the call. The priesthood the protestant churches is defined as “the priesthood of all believers”, something that is gifted to us as we accept Christ into our lives and try to live for Him. We have priesthood power to do God’s work on earth because we believe that we can do “all things in Christ who strengthens us.” Very spiritually liberating.

    • Why does it have to be either/or? I don’t see work towards small changes stopping. I see many of my feminist Mormon sisters going to church every week, working to make small changes within their realm of influence. I see Mormon women raising their voices in all kinds of forums, asking for basic, simple respect and access. The fact that there are also Mormon women (and men!) raising their voices asking for church leadership to prayerfully consider women’s ordination does not mean that the work on small steps has stopped. And as Rachel points out, the fact that there are those willing to raise their voices to ask for the whole kit and caboodle in some ways enhances the possibility that small changes will happen.

      • It doesn’t have to be either/or, it just appears to have gone that way. Yes, we go to church every week and work to make small changes in our realm of influence, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the group movements to make small changes beyond our individual wards. It feels like no one wants to come up with the next “unclean temple baptisms” movement because they would be accused of taking away from the “ordain women” movement, like they were making that no longer important by suggesting something else.

        Ordain Women is a good movement, but what of those of us who see it as “too much, too soon” and want to keep doing the kinds of movements that have been working so well this past year? Even for those who fully support the Ordain Women movement, once support is voiced and a profile on the site is made, what’s next?

  5. This is an excellent post. I suspect that many among church leadership at the highest levels understand the principles of divine equality of the sexes. I also suspect that many among the general population of the church are privy to personal revelation on the matter of priestess-hood and how it relates to the priesthood both in the present in days to come.

    I personally believe that faith – firmly held over extended, stressful periods of longing and supplication to the Lord – has always brought about change for good; has always moved the cause of truth forward – both in religious and secular settings. No doubt, faith and hope are at work in the arena of moving us toward a more divine model of men and women and Godly power.

    Activism has also always helped move things along. Finding the right balance between activism and faithful, private supplication (and personal inquiry for greater light, knowledge and patience) is a challenge. I think we’re up for it. And I am thrilled that these types of conversations are happening – even within a relatively small circle of saints.

    • Thanks Melody! I’m happy that these conversations are happening too. I find people among the general membership who feel the way I do all the time, so I know it’s there, but I don’t get to see evidence of it in the leadership so the only thing I can do is hope. I think I’m at a point where the excitement of finding faithful members who feel the way I do is wearing off as I realize that even though some small positive changes are made, with every conference there is not yet any additional acknowledgment of our Heavenly Mother’s role in our spiritual progression. And that lack of acknowledgment in the role that She plays is extended to us daughters on earth frequently when LDS leaders perpetuate the idea that women are less valid than their male counterparts as spiritual leaders, that they do not have the potential to access Godly authority and sanction. It’s painful and discouraging and sometimes I have to take myself out of that environment for a while to recharge and come back renewed and hopeful.

      • Well said, Annie. Makes perfect sense to me.

    • As a 65 year old woman, I am dismayed at seeing Mormon women still struggling hopefully about the same issues that we struggled for in the 70s – 40 plus years ago. It’s painful to watch.

  6. Because I believe the Church is led by leaders chosen by God. Clearly you’re not the first to raise the question. If God wanted things changed, he could do so. He has not. There’s the answer.

    • “If God wanted things changed, he could do so. He has not. There’s the answer.”

      But Lee, God changes things all the time. And in every single case, one could hold that attitude right until the day before the change is made. For instance, until the spring of 1820, one could have claimed “If God wanted a different religion on the earth, he could add one. He has not. There’s the answer.”

      But then someone (Joseph Smith) took the time to actually ask Him, and it turns out He had in fact wanted one; was just waiting to be asked. We see this pattern again and again. Wording has already changed in the temple ceremony, garment styles have changed, missionaries are leaving at earlier ages, and so forth.

      It seems your way of thinking is only correct until the right person asks God if that was in fact His intention. You statement needs a little addition. If God wants things changed, he can do so. He WILL do so. He has not — YET. There’s the answer.

      Now we just need to figure out the right things to ask Him to change, and the right people to pose the question.

    • Ah the old straw man argument that if God wanted it done he would make it so. This idea goes against the reason for which we were created. If God did all of our progressing for us, we’d be following an entirely different plan. During a large portion of history God’s servants believed women were unclean and women were not allowed into temples at all, but that doesn’t mean that God considered women to be unclean or didn’t want them in his temples. Current church leaders have not that I know of announced any supplication on whether the status quo is in fact what God wants, or acknowledged the growing number of members who believe that changes need to be made within the LDS church organization to better reflect Godly principles, they have only reiterated what tradition has trained them in.

      God has actually already given clear instruction as to the divine potential of women as priestesses, with authority to administer sacred ordinances and act with all the validity and Godly sanction of her brothers. Women temple workers currently administer the sacred covenants of washing and anointing using priesthood authority, and temple covenants anoint men *and* women to become priests and priestesses. Yet, even with women wielding the priesthood in temples across the globe, many members and church leaders hold to the assumption that it’s “not in the cards” for women. Many people, still cannot–or choose not– to acknowledge or comprehend womens current role as spiritual leaders with validity and Godly sanction equal to that of their brothers. It reminds me of the story of a man dangling from a cliff at a deadly height, praying for God to save his life. When another man arrives and offers to help, the dangling man replies “No thanks, I prayed, so God is probably on his way”.

  7. Interesting post. And good comments. I think sometimes we hold the cherished belief that because the Church is “true,” God directs every little detail. If so, we’re going to be disappointed quite often. What we find if we look into Church history (or into current Church governance) is that very frequently he just leaves things up to us. How else can we explain all the boneheaded decisions and programs in our history? Agency seems to be a rather important point with God. So don’t be surprised if he lets us do things our way.

    Look, for instance, at the priesthood ban for those with black African ancestors. Lee says, “If God wanted things changed, he could do so.” Well, apparently he did want things changed. But he didn’t set up a neon sign on Temple Square with the message that the ban was to end. It took a little man with a big heart, Spencer W. Kimball, who was brave enough to start asking questions, to look into the history, and to become uncomfortable with the inconsistencies between our contrived explanations and some fundamental doctrines. And even after he became convinced that the ban should end, he knew he had to get the whole Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on board. This took some doing, but he did it. And when the table was all set, then the revelation came. I should add that President Kimball wasn’t the first one to start asking questions. Others paved the way. But he knew, as the saying goes, that the buck stopped with him, and he didn’t push it off on a later generation.

    We should be asking ourselves if we are entertaining similar cultural biases parading as doctrine that cloud our perception of women and the priesthood. If the best argument we can come up with is precedent, we need to do better thinking and start asking deeper questions.

    • Thanks, Lew. That agency thing sure has some steep learning curves.

      Based on some of Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talks, I believe he is thinking and asking deeper questions.

      If it isn’t too personal, what deeper questions would you like to see asked in an official capacity?

  8. April, it makes all the difference that the church is SRT up for young men to take on the responsibility of the priesthood. You are trying to change the fundamental structure of the church to fit your frankly selfish wants.

    Annie b and lew , i’m sure martin harris’ s wife would agree with you. However I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if you can prove one thing: the prophet has not asked this question. You just assume it. Can you provide anything more than your assumption?

    • Lee, can you prove he HAS asked the question, and that the response was unequivocally Not now, not never, stop asking?

    • Also Lee, can you please explain the “selfish wants” that can be fulfilled through the priesthood? I was always taught that the priesthood is for unselfishly serving others.

      Also, you did not answer my earlier question about whether you have been ordained to the priesthood and if so, what your reasons were for being ordained. I am quite curious.

    • Lee,
      The “fundamental structure” of the church is based on Abraham’s masculine religious ideology– there is a strong argument that Sarah had just as much of a defining role in religious structure wherein she was an empowered prophetess, but that through time, this history has been erased– for good or for evil. (I believe it for evil, as in the points made by Annie B). In copying the structure that remained in the bible after centuries of translation and erasures, Joseph Smith was copying what he could from an imperfect text. Plain and simple. From there, we can next jump to the period of the church’s restoration– or, the age of “Muscular Christianity” and Masculinism that has influenced within all Christian church structures and is the principle source of the “roles” currently assigned in the church.

      Sure, God had something to do with it. But, as we learn in the Pearl of Great Price, God works through natural means. So He works with what we have and what we offer Him to work with and what we ask Him to reveal. (I use the masculine pronouns loosely and incorrectly, as the term ‘Elohim’ is plural, and represents Heavenly Parents.) Even as something as simple as washing and anointing, Joseph Smith experimented with washing with whisky and cinnamon (per the “recipe” in Exodus), before coming to the peace of mind that water was acceptable.

      Presuming Joseph Smith was only asking for revelation in how to organize church structure based on his own understanding of Abrahamic structure compounded with Muscular Christianity (i.e. his own knowledge and interpretation), then the fundamental structure of the church must be imperfect and open to further light and knowledge. This seems clear to me as one of the purposes of the School of the Prophets — but as was the culture of Muscular Christianity, (and keeping in mind that early US universities such as Yale and Harvard were called ‘schools for prophets’ and did not allow female students) women were not allowed in to seek female interpretation, influence, and seek revelation at the school for prophets/elders. In other words, women were excluded from the start because of the WORLDLY culture. Not religious culture.

      Imagine how different the church would be today if women had been included! After all, was not Emma Smith’s frustration at the tobacco-chewing of the men the source that revealed the word of wisdom? Think of how many more things would have been revealed if women had been included– the possibilities really are endless.

      In this thought, I think we need to step up our game and ask “what is best” rather than “what will do.” I also see no reason why women’s ordination or other changes in the church are “wants,” especially if the current structure and interpretations are coloured by Abrahamic and Muscular Christian lenses (i.e. your judgement of “selfish”– how is seeking revelation selfish? In this, I remind you of the comment policy.) In summary, this “coloured-lens” approach, will NOT do.

    • “Can you provide anything more than your assumption?”

      That’s exactly what I’m asking in this post. Can church leaders, and those who believe in the status quo provide anything more than “because that’s the way we’ve been doing it for a really really long time”? I put forward that perhaps (and history provides ample evidence of) this particular principle being incorrect and harmful, and started for other than Godly reasons. If we don’t talk about it and ask, we will definitely never get any acknowledgement, let alone an answer.

    • Lee, you are both uncharitable and harsh. You don’t have the right to assume or judge the motivations of women who want priestess-hood. Could it be that you are an outstanding example of how power can corrupt people?

  9. If women were ordained, they would be demanding things like goddess worship, abortion, and gay marriage. Unitarian Universalists are majority female clergy and they support all these things.

    • LOL! I think I saw that bumper sticker once. Yes, every woman who got ordained would surely start attacking pregnant women and breaking up straight marriages to make all the boys marry boys and all the girls marry girls instead. And then they’d probably try to make us think we had a Heavenly Mother. Oh, wait…

      Thanks for the laugh ;)

    • Unitarians do have mixed gender clergy, but not necessarily predominantly female clergy. And, they don’t “demand goddess worship, abortion, and gay marriage. Unitarians tend to be liberal and support marriage equality, a woman’s right to control her own body, and of course, the right to pray to, worship, and spiritual seek a relationship with our Heavenly Mother. Other Protestant denominations also have mixed gender clergy but are more conservative. Presbyterians, for example support ordination of women, but not full spiritual rights for gays and lesbians. Mormon women holding the priesthood will not create a liberal-crazed church. It will just be a step towards bringing the church into the 21st century.

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