Last Sunday in Relief Society, I was privileged to witness a wonderfully brave and honest testimony. After a lesson on women and priesthood reaffirming the currently popular understanding — that women don’t hold the priesthood, but that they share in all of its blessings — this woman arose to bravely and honestly grapple with the issue of women and priesthood. She spoke of a moment that pierced her heart, a moment when her five year old granddaughter realized she would not be able to pass the sacrament like her little brother, and how that little girl turned to her grandmother and said, “But aren’t I special too?” She spoke of how women in the LDS church need to be women of supreme faith since there is no reason they should not hold priesthood. She spoke of a time when she was walking alone in the dark and knew a man was following her. Frightened, she turned, raised her hand, and said to him, “By the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which I hold with my husband, I order you to leave me alone.” Which he did.
This woman in brave and raw honesty honored questions of women and priesthood, questions that are too often swept aside and dismissed. I left that Relief Society with my heart wanting to burst from my chest — it meant that much to me to see these questions honored and to witness this woman’s courage.
Our Sisters Speak column for the upcoming issue of the Exponent II magazine, an issue devoted to the theme of the temple, centers around these questions of women and priesthood. Judy Curtis of Phoenix, AZ wrote:
“Historically, women serving and participating in the temple ordinances were referred to as priestesses in the present tense, not just the future tense as they are now. We are told that women share in the priesthood that their husbands hold, but we are not told exactly what that means.
Do you believe that the endowment conferred some form of priesthood on you? Why or why not? Have your perceptions of the priesthood with regard to women changed over time as a result of temple attendance and service? What experiences have you had in conversation with other Mormons on this topic?”
Please share your thoughts about the temple and priesthood and whether you feel it has conferred on you a form of priesthood. I will contact some of you privately by email to ask whether I may quote you in the magazine.