Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women: What’s in the new essay?

Emma!The 12th essay in the Gospel Topics series was released yesterday by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Titled Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women, the essay describes Smith’s expansive views of female participation within the priesthood, as well as very recent teachings by Mormon leaders who have sought to clarify the role of women in the priesthood since Ordain Women launched in 2013.

Instead of teaching that priesthood is inherently male, the essay authors emphasize that both “Latter-day Saint women and men go forward with priesthood power and authority.” Although Mormon women are not ordained to offices of the priesthood, the authors point out that Mormon women perform “service and leadership [that] would require ordination in many other religious traditions” such as giving sermons, proselytizing, and officiating in temple ordinances. It is refreshing to see another official church resource explicitly state that “women exercise priesthood authority even though they are not ordained to priesthood office.”

The authors call out two common areas of confusion about the priesthood:

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Ordination and Excommunication Sunday

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

Ordination of Clare Julian Carbone

Ordination of Clare Julian Carbone

As the procession of women entered the church I swallowed a gasp. I knew I was attending the ordination of Clare Julian Carbone to the Roman Catholic priesthood (unsanctioned by the Vatican). I knew that those ordaining the first female Catholic priest in Salt Lake City would be women, previously ordained through a priesthood lineage they trace back to Jesus Christ. But I didn’t know. I only imagined what it would be like to have women presiding and officiating in ordination rite. The surprise of women dressed in robes of service and devotion, leading in a holy space overwhelmed me with joy.  Tears spilled out as I looked up at a stand and podium presided over by women (with a talented man playing the piano).  

I marveled at how different the scene before me was compared to the LDS Sacrament service I attended a few hours earlier. In my LDS ward I looked up at a stand full of men in suits with a woman leading the music and a woman at the organ. The LDS scene communicated to me that women are the accompaniment. Men are the main story. The opening hymn for my LDS Sacrament meeting was Hymn 59, Come O Thou King if Kings. I choked as I sang verse four:

Hail! Prince of life and peace!

Thrice  welcome to thy throne!

While all the chosen race

Their Lord and Savior own,

The heathen nations bow the knee,

And ev’ry tongue sounds praise to thee.

Was I the chosen race that owns their Lord and Savior? Or am I of the heathen nation bowing the knee? I felt keenly, “I do not belong here. This is a space for white men. Not me.” No more sound came out of me after the word “race.” I could not sing the words, “Heathen nation.”

In contrast, the sight of male and female congregants smiling in fellowship as we looked up to female presiding leaders astonished me with feelings of peace and well being. As I looked at female bodies, dressed in white robes that remind me of my temple clothes, I felt like I belonged. Then we sang an opening hymn:

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Can Mormon women count money?

all-male-panel-LDS-callings-sectionCan Mormon women count money? Of course we can! But here is another question: Do LDS Church policy makers know that Mormon women can count money? Based on church financial policies, it does not appear that they do. Only men may collect, count, distribute or audit LDS Church funds.

Consider these policies:

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On Blessings

In Gilead, a favorite novel of mine, a Congregational minister named John Ames recalls his life in a letter to his young son.  Part autobiography and part meditation on ultimate questions, the book contains some interesting thought on blessings.  As a minister, Ames has bestowed countless blessings, but his first experiencing of blessing was with kittens.

“I still remember how those warm little brows felt under the palm of my hand.  Everyone has petted a cat, but to touch one like that, with the pure intention of blessing it, is a very different thing.  It stays the mind”  He and his lifelong friend Boughton had wetted the kittens brows with water to baptize them.  He wondered what they had done to them, musing, “It still seems to me to be a real question.”[1]

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June Young Women Lesson: What are the keys of the priesthood?

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation

Introduce the doctrine

The two primary ways by which priesthood authority is distributed are through ordination to priesthood office and through priesthood keys.

The above offices I have given unto you, and the keys thereof, for helps and for governments, for the work of the ministry and the perfecting of my saints. D&C 124:143


Click to enlarge.

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