We Love Women as Bishops! (As Long As They Aren’t LDS Bishops)
Last week a new Episcopalian bishop was ordained here in Utah, with full news coverage from various media outlets such as church-owned KSL:
I won’t pretend to understand exactly how the order of things work in the Episcopalian church, but I do know this is a pretty big deal (and much higher up in the church ranking wise than a bishop in an LDS ward).
I visited a local Episcopalian church several years ago and talked to the women there about female ordination, which is something they don’t take for granted in Utah. I wrote about my experiences right HERE, and what the Episcopalian women had to say about visiting an LDS baptism and experiencing the shock of the male-only ordinances and complete exclusion of the mothers and all women from the event. To Episcopalian worshipers, it’s very foreign to see women not included in priesthood leadership. To Latter-day Saint worshipers, it’s completely normal and God approved.
The comments on the KSL news article about newly ordained Bishop Phyliss Spiegel’s ordination were exclusively positive, as seen below:
I think it’s great that she’s here in my state, and I wish her all the best luck. I think of my Episcopalian friends I wrote about in the prior blog I linked to above, and I bet they’re thrilled.
I also can’t help but think of comments I heard from people in my state when Ordain Women first came onto the scene almost a decade ago, and people far and wide balked at the idea of a woman being an LDS bishop (again, a much lower profile job in our church). Last month, I actually wrote a blog post about why I think women should be bishops right HERE, and the comments were also mostly all positive – but I think that was because of the generally progressive crowd reading and interacting with my ideas. I would not expect a similar reaction from a typically mainstream LDS group in Utah County, where I live. Instead, I’d expect comments like the ones I pulled off of social media from the year 2015, during heightened discussions about women’s roles in the LDS church and the possibility of women being ordained as priesthood leaders in the LDS church. Here are a few reactions to the mere idea of women acting as priesthood leaders (out of literally a million billion of them) I copied from old Facebook posts:
“Total apostasy. Complete ignorance of the plan of God.”
“I love women’s rights, but in this case, not under these circumstances.”
“I am sitting here literally stunned, stunned that any women could think that this is “OK”, or even a good idea. To feel this way, would confirm you are void of any understanding of the powers or purpose of the Priesthood.”
“When you start to question whether or not women should be allowed to hold it, for me, it’s like second-guessing whether God knows what he’s doing”
“Those women bring to mind the term “useful idiots”. The doctrine is clear and every church member should already have a good understanding of priesthood.”
“the literal meaning of the word Priest is now, always has been and always will be Father. Therefore Priesthood does equal Fatherhood does equal Motherhood. But to have two Priests in a home would be like two Captains on a ship.”
“I pray that this day (author’s note – this means women being ordained) will never come.”
“So where are the children in all of this? Both Mom and Dad serving in bishoprics, stake presidencies etc, working full time…Kids just get to raise themselves? It’s the kids that lose out in all of this… If I held the priesthood I wouldn’t be a better Mom, I would be a far worse one!!”
“you forget the church is directed by the creater himself, who is a man. The priesthood has always been given to men from the very beginning of time… “
“…can a lady be a good Priesthood holder? SURE!!! should she OF COURSE NOT!!! the scripture is clear on this issue and is Church policy.”
“When men quit doing what men are designed to do, and women quit doing what women are designed to do, all that can be left is a society of deviants. Let that sink in.”
“remember, priesthood is the power God uses in creating the universe, God, i mean heavenly father gave the power to His choosen men to act on behave of Him here on earth……. Never in the history of the world has there been a time where women where ordain or given the priesthood….”
“Will giving women the priesthood make things better? … Would leaving the man home with the kids, while the woman spends hours in the bishop office be an improvement?”
My husband has the priesthood , “that’s all I need” I don’t understand why women feel the need to be ordained? I can find no place in the bible where a women has given another women the priesthood ???
“If it was His will for women to hold the priesthood or participate in priesthood ordinances He would make it so.”
“There has been opposition in ALL things since the time of Adam & Eve. Eve, who, by the way did NOT receive the Priesthood when it was given to Adam- I’m guessing there was a reason for that.”
“Dumb women. Shut up and bake bread. And I’m a woman!!!!”
That’s probably more quotes about women as ordained priesthood leaders than I needed to make my point, but there were just so, so, sooooo many of these comments made. I didn’t include ones that were overly angry or insulting (except the last one, from a woman – about baking bread), or included profanity. People were SO MAD about the mere suggestion of women being ordained within the LDS tradition.
But when it’s a woman in a different religion who is ordained – everyone is fine with the scenario. Obviously it’s an impossible comparison, because I can’t get the same commenters from 2015 to give me their reaction at the time to an Episcopalian bishop in 2022, and maybe no Latter-day Saints were commenting on the KSL article that I posted. My realization was just that in general a woman being ordained to a priesthood role in most any other church doesn’t ignite much passion either way. There are some friendly congratulations and warm welcomes, and life goes on. But when we even TALK about an LDS woman being ordained to the priesthood, members of our church want to burn the entire city down. What makes something so easy for our community to accept in one situation, and yet we so vehemently oppose it in the other?