When I express concerns about opportunities in the church that are limited to men, or organizational structures designed to ensure that males wield decision-making authority, or church policies that favor men, the catch-all response to these concerns is that it is not about gender, it is about the priesthood. However, in the Mormon faith, priesthood is all about gender. Nearly every male over 12 years old is a priesthood holder and all women are banned from holding priesthood office outside the temple. Often, when we say “priesthood,” what we mean is “men.”
Just recently, I expressed concerns about why women are only allowed to supervise other women in the mission field while males supervise mixed-gender groups. A well-meaning person responded, “It’s not that women shouldn’t supervise men, it’s that women shouldn’t supervise priesthood holders.” But in the context of Mormon missionary service, priesthood holders are synonymous with men. “It’s not that women shouldn’t supervise men, it’s that women shouldn’t supervise
priesthood holders men.” See what I mean?
An Exponent reader reported that her mother was denied a job with the church, with this justification: “That position traditionally goes to
priesthood holders men.” Employment discrimination, anyone?
“Wouldn’t it be preferable to have a
priesthood holder man fill this calling?” Ouch. With the change, this sounds mighty sexist.
“This is an important occasion, so a
priesthood holder man should be the keynote speaker.” Ouch again.
“Please sign up if you would be willing to be the
priesthood male chaperone at the upcoming Relief Society activity.” Even without changing the priesthood word, it is offensive to say that adult women need chaperones to keep them in line. But add that adult women need male chaperones to keep them in line and it is even worse.
priesthood men’s camp-out is this weekend.” Hey, that one actually makes more sense with the change. What does camping have to do with priesthood?
(Spoken by a female teacher.) “That’s a difficult doctrinal question. I think I will turn that one over to
the priesthood a man.” So, the question is too hard for you to answer because you are a woman?
“The Relief Society is a great woman’s organization, under the direction of
the priesthood men.” The change reveals a sad truth.
the priesthood men please remain after the meeting to put away the chairs?” Darn it. I was kind of excited to see the chairs move by means of the same power that created the universe.