To Ordain or Not to Ordain

In my recent podcast with Bill Reel on Mormon Discussions, I state that I believe ordination is imperative for women.  Among others, my reasons are

  • Allows for a saving ordinance (ordination) to be given to women – for our salvation
  • Brings parity in church governance
  • Legitimizes the priesthood power women already possess and use
  • Gives greater opportunity for the use of spiritual gifts

The discussion goes on to discuss what priesthood for women might look like in the church.  An egalitarian priesthood where women are plugged in to the existing structure? Or a separate quorum brought directly to women from the feminine divine.

I’m wondering where you, dear readers, fall on this issue:

Ordination is necessary for women?
Yes?  No?

What type of ordination resinates most with you?
Egalitarian Priesthood
Separate Quorums?
Something Else?

Suzette

Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents - and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

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17 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    I lean towards an egalitarian priesthood for women. It just seems the simplest to plug women into the existing structure. But part of me wouldn’t mind a female priesthood, associated with biblical females, feminine imagery and feminine symbols. As many feminists have noted, it’s not good enough to add women and stir. We need to change the whole composition of structure — and that might include initiating some female-only spaces and rituals. That said, I would insist on women given full access to institutional power if there was a female priesthood — one where women could be bishops, apostles, and presidents of the church.

    Though honestly — I’d be pretty thrilled with any kind of ordination.

  2. spunky says:

    I also think egalitarian priesthood is essential. I fear that separate priesthoods would force the female priestesshood to be related to childbirth and fertility/reproduction, and this makes me feel very uncomfortable. Having women share an equal priesthood with men makes much more sense to me, if only for practical reasons- we could get some much more temple work done. But in this thought, because the temple is do deeply problematic, I think it should be made even more abstract, with nothing literal included in the least; the symbolism works for me, but the literal stuff is painfully imprisoning to women (the newer films are HUGE fails in this regard.) I do not think that more abstraction in the temple would be a problem and would create a better egalitarian experience for all.

  3. Catherine says:

    I think priesthood is necessary for women (or, at the very least, a massive overhaul of church leadership, allowing women to be bishops and GAs, etc). As a person who doesn’t feel men and women are all that different, I think an egalitarian priesthood is the only way to go.

  4. Elle says:

    I hope for other egalitarian strides in church policy and doctrine first since I think ordination, if it happens, is decades away–probably not in my lifetime.

    I, too, hope for an egalitarian priesthood. If they give us a feminine priesthood, you can bet we’ll only be able to exercise authority over other women and children, and I think that’s a crock. I agree with Catherine that men and women aren’t so fundamentally different after all.

  5. Pleiades says:

    I absolutely believe that women should be ordained. While theologically I think side-by-side quorums would be awesome, I honestly don’t think that anything will change at all unless there is an egalitarian integration. It would be too easy to limit our participation to current levels unless it was the same.

  6. Glenn Thigpen says:

    I doubt that this idea will gain much traction here, but ordination is hardly imperative for women. That has not been a revealed truth in any dispensation. If there were to come a revelation that women indeed are to ordained, then it would become an imperative. But firstly we must establish that ordination for women is what God wants.
    We cannot make the Church or the Priesthood in our own image, the way we think it should be. Man has bee doing that for centuries, and none of them come close to the restored gospel. That restoration did not include ordination of women.
    Now it is possible that there is still something new to be added to our understanding of the Plan of Salvation and Exaltation. But if there is, it will be revealed from God and not by societal trends.

    Glenn

    • Emily U says:

      Thanks for the sermon, Glenn, but how do you think it will be revealed from God, if it is to be revealed? Further light comes from asking for it, for instance Nephi asked to see visions Lehi had seen, the brother of Jared asked for stones to light up, Esther asked for deliverance, Joseph Smith asked for a true church, plus many more examples.

      Our leaders need to ask about women’s ordination, and I think it will only occur to them to do so if they hear from church members who believe it’s an imperative.

    • Lily2 says:

      When the scriptures use words like “priestess” and “prophetess”, how do you know that it has “not been a revealed truth in any dispensation.” The very most you can say is that we don’t really know what has been done in the past.

      • Suzette says:

        Glenn, you are probably right that your idea may not gain much traction in this form, but I appreciate your comment.

        I agree with you that priesthood and ordination and how it’s done needs to be “what God wants” and “from God”.

        Perhaps we disagree on the completeness of the restoration. I believe it is still unfolding and E Uchdorf mentioned this in his recent conference talk “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration”. I believe that ordaining women is one question that needs to be considered and answered as the restoration continues to unfold.

        We have no record that women were ordained in other dispensations, but I believe they were. This is what my revelation teaches me. Though I realized that leaders will need to be inspired on this topic.

        I’m hoping the conversation will move up through the ranks. I do not believe this is a social trend, but rather the daughters of God reaching out to claim a birthright and hoping to be inspired about it.

  7. Emily U says:

    Ordination is necessary for women?
    Yes

    What kind?
    Egalitarian. Because anything else is patriarchy, and patriarchy puts women in the position of being not fully grown-ups.

  8. Dave K says:

    I would have full equality in priesthood quorums. Leave the RS as a service and social organization the provides the benefits found in women-only spheres (these are real) and create a similar organiation for men. If anything needs to be dropped from the block schedule, it should be sunday school – though I would prefer to keep that and, if needed to limit the block to 3 hours, simply alternate weeks when adults meet together for sunday school verses weeks they meet separately for RS and “Guys RS.”

  9. EFH says:

    I do think the women need to be organized in authentic quorums. However, I would prefer that women get organized/ordained around an idea of priestesshood rather than into the current model of priesthood. This model would be egalitarian too because there is no inferior power/priesthood.

    I personally want a platform where I explore my female divinity; participating with men in “their” priesthood is not appealing to me. Yes, I do want opportunities to serve, learn and lead by men’s side but not necessarily sharing the priesthood with them. I sounds like I do not want to share but actually I believe that the “egalitarian priesthood” will continue to limit us even though it might open doors for leadership because it doesn’t provide a vision and rituals for women and around women.

  10. Anarene Holt Yim says:

    I believe in the priesthood of all believers, and that God will give “the power of God” to anyone God wants to give it to. So instead of ordaining women, I think we should take ordination away from men. I prefer equality coming through conscious humility and reliance on God (on the part of men and women both). I’m not a fan of women simply joining the good-old-boys club.

    Of course I don’t expect this un-ordination to happen, but I really think our hierarchy causes serious problems and has little to do with the actual “power of God.” We have far more hierarchy than we need. I think the priesthood of all believers is more scriptural and more Zion-like. That’s my high-level hope.

    My lower-level hope is that we can somehow equalize the leadership in the church, whether or not women are ordained to anything. The men must become willing to share power and decision-making, if we are to ever get any closer to Zion.

  11. Nic says:

    Suzette,

    I know you believe ordination is imperative for women – not only because you said so, but because that’s the easiest thing to believe. Priesthood ordination is what you know. It’s what you see. So it should be what you want as an equality-loving Mormon feminist, right? Yet you ask your readers what they believe in the off-chance that someone else might open your eyes to what you didn’t know and couldn’t see.

    My question to you is: Are you ready to completely abandon everything you thought you knew, every belief you thought was right, and every position held near and dear to your heart, in order to know the truth of this issue once and for all?

    If not, then I believe it is absolutely pointless for you to ask questions about female ordination.

    If so, then perhaps you’ll be willing to consider these questions as they pertain to whether ordination is necessary for women.

    1. Was ordination necessary for Christ to receive His priesthood?

    2. Did (does) Christ have the priesthood?

    If you find the answers to these questions to be “No” and “Yes” respectively, then you might have just learned something about the priesthood that perhaps you never considered: That there is more than one way for a person to receive the priesthood of God.

    • Suzette says:

      Nic,

      Some interesting ideas. 🙂
      My answers to the questions were yes and yes. I wonder what that says.
      I am open to the idea of receiving Priesthood in a different way. But ordination still brings office and a foot into church governance. Ordination is also a saving ordinance, so how do we get around that?

      Thanks for sharing your thought,
      Suzette

  12. Egalitarian priesthood. If we had girl-priesthood, I am pretty sure it would be like the model we have now, with the Relief Society-an organization for women controlled by men. That said, I would have no problem with having men’s auxiliaries and women’s auxiliaries for gendered activities and discussions, but I think priesthood should not be gendered.

  13. Ernest says:

    Suzette, I realize I am a couple months tardy in this discussion, but for some reason I found myself surfing this blog and just had to comment on one thing you said here. In reference to the topic of women being ordained, you said to Glenn “I’m hoping the conversation will move up through the ranks.” The issue HAS moved up through the ranks. Your friend Sister Kelly taught that certain scriptures and quotes by Joseph Smith and other early leaders should be interpreted to mean that women are supposed to be ordained. Her bishop and stake president disagreed with her and she was excommunicated for apostasy. She appealed to the First Presidency and they sustained the actions of her local leaders. Don’t you think that during their review of the excommunication that the First Presidency looked at the underlying issues? Didn’t they have easy access to what Sister Kelly taught about ordaining women and the scriptures she cited? Wouldn’t it have occurred to Pres. Monson, Pres. Eyring, and Pres. Utchdorf to have prayed, “Father in Heaven, Sister Kelly has taught that these scriptures and statements by the Prophet Joseph Smith indicate that women should be ordained to the priesthood. Is she correct? If she is correct, then we need to clarify this to the members of the Church, and also nullify her excommunication.” So in sustaining the disciplinary council against Sister Kelly, we have the answer on the question of women being ordained. The prophet has spoken, so the debate is over (or at least it should be). I hope you will sustain the true messengers who are the Lord’s anointed, and drop this issue once and for all.

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