Monday, April 15, 2013

Women and the Priesthood

I have heard a lot of talk lately about women and their desire to be ordained to the Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka LDS Church or Mormon Church).

  • Why can't women hold the priesthood?  It's archaic that the priesthood is a "male only" institution.
  • Bishops and Relief Society presidents are supporting this.  How can it be bad if they feel it's the right thing and the natural next step?
  • What do women do when they don't have a worthy priesthood holder in their house?  They should be able to bless their own children.
  • What's wrong with asking the Prophet to receive a revelation asking for women to receive the priesthood?
  • It used to be that only white men could hold the priesthood, and now all worthy men can receive it.  Women are next.  As civilization progresses, we realize that women are as good as men and should be able to have all the same opportunities.

I could go on and on.

First, if you aren't LDS (Mormon), here's a little background.  The Priesthood is the authority to act in God's name with His power to help others: perform saving ordinances, provide blessings, etc.  Beginning in Old Testament times, God bestowed His priesthood on worthy men.  When Jesus Christ was on the Earth, He bestowed the priesthood on worthy men.  While there is some information in the Bible about righteous, worthy women, they were not Priesthood holders.  When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established, it was not simply a church that was made up by a mortal individual or group of individuals.  It was restored by God through His chosen servant (Joseph Smith, Jr.) and is His church.

God established His church on the Earth to help His children return home to live with Him.  How do we do that: return to live with our Heavenly Father?  We need to do the best we can to draw closer to God, to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and His atonement, to learn to rely upon God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to live what we believe to the best of our ability trusting in Jesus Christ's atonement.

Each child of God is unique.  We have unique talents, attributes, and opportunities.  God created each of us as a unique son or daughter.  Gender is an integral part of our identity.  As a daughter of God, I have had the privilege to give birth to 4 wonderful sons.  Giving birth is a human trait unique to females.  Is it unfair that men can't give birth?  Men have the opportunity to bear the priesthood.  Is that the same as being able to bear life?  No, but the priesthood can only be used to serve others, not oneself.

I believe that both of these unique opportunities (women to bear children and men to bear the priesthood) are necessary for our growth during this mortal experience.   They teach us to care more about others' needs than our own and push us to our limits. 

In today's society, the media is mindful about making fun of women, minorities, etc., but if you watch any sitcom, men are usually the bumbling fools who need to be saved by the women in their lives.  In schools, boys are failing at a higher rate then girls.  More girls than boys attend and complete college.  More young men are in prison, and the rate seems to be increasing.

Is there are correlation between the media portrayal of men and these alarming facts?  I don't know. 
But I do know that people, especially children, tend to live up to whatever expectations you have of them.  If you expect them to fail, they usually will.

What does this have to do with the Priesthood?  If a man's only role model is the clown on TV, he has no true role model.  My husband is a righteous priesthood holder.  He sets such a wonderful example for my sons.   As a bearer of the priesthood, I know he feels the weight of this responsibility, and, as good a man as he is, he is even better because he wants to be a righteous priesthood holder.  If women held the priesthood, many men would not feel they needed to live up to the standards they should, because the women could do it for them.  (Sorry if that sounds sexist.)


So...  Back to the original questions.
  • Why can't women hold the priesthood?  It's archaic that the priesthood is a "male only" institution.  Because it is the priesthood of God, and God determines who holds it, not man (or woman).  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways may ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Do you trust God enough to trust in Him and His servants, even if it doesn't match current political or social theories and trends


  • Bishops and Relief Society presidents are supporting this.  How can it be bad if they feel it's the right thing and the natural next step?  Matthew 24:24 reads, "For there shall arise... false prophets, and... they shall deceive the very elect."  A prophet is defined as one chosen by God to speak for Him or one who claims to receive divine inspiration on behalf of others.  The "Ordain Women" movement's leader, Kate Kelly, seems to be claiming divine inspiration on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that she believes deeply that it's time for women to receive the Priesthood.  It sounds to me as if she is putting her inspiration, knowledge, and enlightenment above that of the Prophet of God.  
  • To put this in perspective, President Ezra Taft Benson gave an address at BYU in 1980 speaking about prophets.  He said, "The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or diplomas to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time. Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to his prophet on the same subject" (emphasis added).  In order not to be deceived, we must study, ponder, and pray.  
  • We must listen to God's chosen prophet, not a self appointed one.  If we have questions, we must continue the same pattern: study, ponder, and pray.  Listen to God and to the answers you receive from Him.  He will confirm what His chosen prophet says.


  • What do women do when they don't have a worthy priesthood holder in their house?  They should be able to bless their own children.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides Home Teachers to all families, and they can bless those without a priesthood holder in their home.  Also, prayers are not the sole domain of men.  God hears all righteous prayers and answers them. 


  • What's wrong with asking the Prophet to receive a revelation asking for women to receive the priesthood?  This is being put forth, because Emma Smith asked her husband, Joseph Smith, Jr., about tobacco and alcohol, and He went to the Lord and received the revelation on the Word of Wisdom.  First, Emma was his wife.  It was appropriate for a wife to ask her husband such things.  We no longer have intimate connections with the prophet as the Church of Jesus Christ is so large.  
  •  If you believe that President Monson is the Prophet, a prophet of God, you should know that God will inspire him to ask the right questions.
  • If you have questions, you are to go to your Bishop or Branch President.  If they cannot give you the answers you seek, go to your Stake or Mission President.  They can seek answers from General Authorities, as needed.  Second, you can (and should) pray and ask God for that which you need including answers to your questions.  If you have a question about the priesthood and women, pray and ask God.  Study the scriptures.  Ponder.  Pray again.  He will answer you, and His answer will be correct.

  • It used to be that only white men could hold the priesthood, and now all worthy men can receive it.  Women are next.  As civilization progresses, we realize that women are as good as men and should be able to have all the same opportunities.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Not everything was restored at once when the church was re-established.  However, things are done in God's time.  While I personally do not believe that God will extend the priesthood to women, if it is God's will, it will be done in His due time.  Also, we will not be given additional knowledge and responsibilities without study of existing knowledge (scriptures, conference talks), improving our ability to fulfill the responsibilities we currently have, and sincere prayer.  We must be mindful that God is a God of order and He will reveal things through His chosen servants, not self-appointed ones. 


    Finally, I believe that one of the most helpful and inspiring revelations is The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  Careful study and prayer will answer questions about gender roles and the priesthood (among other things).



    I have a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind.  I know that President Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God.  I know that all can receive their own testimonies and answers to difficult questions through scripture study, deep thought, obedience to the principles of God, and sincere, heartfelt, and humble prayer.

    1 comment:

    1. Amen. Well-written. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being such a great example.

      ReplyDelete