I’ve kept an open mind to the concept of women receiving the priesthood. I have no problem with it occurring. That said, Kate Kelly and a few other “under-privileged women” seem to be taking their desire out into political left field.
I recognize that most LDS women are not Kate Kelly. I am thankful for them and for that issue. The reality is, MOST LDS women are not interested in having the priesthood males right now have. Fiona Givens wrote a great piece regarding this recently, that the endeavor of some women to seek out priesthood power and authority in the manner they are doing, actually goes against D&C 121’s warning concerning priesthood power! She notes a recent Pew survey that shows that the vast majority of LDS women (87%) disagree with Kelly’s premise. Interestingly, more men are open to the concept than women in the Church.
Kelly insists that not giving priesthood to women is just another mistake that the Brethren have made along the way. This should be placed on the same pile of errors as blood atonement, polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, etc.
However, it is a naive view that can reduce complex issues into a simple platitude regarding egalitarianism. Nature does not recognize equality in all things. Men cannot bear children and most women do not grow beards. Without the complexity of scientific intervention, nature has men and women creating children in only one way: together. God reveals his will to his servants, often only after a long battle of study, prayer and pondering.
The end of polygamy was a complex issue, and actually required two Manifestos (1890 and 1904). The attacks on the Church had gone on for many years, putting it and its people into huge debt and sacrifice. Did ending polygamy in the USA mean it also had to be ended in Mexico, Canada and elsewhere? What should those do who were currently practicing it? What would happen with the extra wives and all of the children? Today, the Church does not allow polygamous relationships in the Church anywhere. This is in stark contrast to the Community of Christ (RLDS), who first denied Joseph Smith’s polygamy, but now allows converts in other countries that permit polygamous marriages.
Blacks and the priesthood was also a complex issue. History shows that David O. McKay and perhaps one or two previous prophets looked into ending the ban. Although Pres McKay did not receive authorization by God to end it, he did feel impressed to change the parameters. Blacks from Indonesia and other areas outside African descent would no longer be included in the ban. It required many changes in the world and in the Church (becoming a worldwide church w/a temple in Brazil) to move the issue to the next major step under Pres Kimball and the June 1978 revelation. A major change, but it still wasn’t finished. The complexity of the issue continued as members discussed and argued over the “why?” of the ban. 35 years after the ban was lifted, the Church officially renounced the curse of Cain and other “reasons” given for the original ban.
Nate Oman recently blogged about why he felt the Ordain Women movement will eventually fail. He notes some of the complexities that Kate Kelly and gang are ignoring or refusing to recognize. Her current post shows that this has become a political issue with her. The Brethren, as with all men, are “privileged males” an oblique term for misogynist or at least sexist, I would presume.
Oman notes that the prophet walks carefully in the realm of revelation. Afraid to place his own feelings above the Lord’s will, the man of God will take his time to prevent making a choice that goes against God. Yet, the Brethren have also recognized that the sisters need a bigger seat at the table. As with Pres McKay, they’ve made changes within the realm of current revelation. The new CH2 (2010 – before Ordain Women) encourages leaders to increase the effort of the entire Ward/Stake Council and particularly to obtain input and insight from the women in the Church. Priesthood session of General Conference is now live online. Sisters now have a Women’s session that will be on par with Priesthood Session of General Conference.
I recently had an experience that reminded me of Nate’s post. Among my callings, I am the stake Public Affairs Director. I saw a great opportunity to have a visiting LDS person come speak at a fireside that would generate some positive interest among both members and community people. The fireside would risk possibly being somewhat controversial, due to the inherent issues in regards to the theme to be discussed. However, I was convinced the speaker would deftly handle it in a way that would be uplifting and promoting of the Church. At first my stake president was eager. As he discussed it with other leaders, who encouraged him to consider the priesthood purpose, walk with caution and seek the Lord’s will on it, over a period of about a month, he finally determined that at this time the Lord’s will and needs would not be met. I was highly disappointed, but knowing my stake president, I knew he pushed past his own personal interests and sought only the Lord’s will. It is something I am still learning, and was a big learning experience for me to see someone push aside his own interests to fully seek God’s will.
I am certain the Brethren are pondering other ways to open things up to the sisters, while staying within the current dictates given by revelation. It is not an issue of male privilege, but of seeking God’s will. Kelly can assert whatever she wishes, and all she will do is risk her relationship with God – who ostensibly has greater male privilege than all of us mortal men put together!
If there were a priesthood revelation for women, what would it entail? How complex would the issue be? Would they get the exact priesthood men have? Would they get something different? And if it were different, perhaps as Fiona Givens states that sisters/Relief Society are currently free to minister rather than administer, would it be enough for someone like Kate Kelly? Or would her political inclinations cause her to speak out against male privilege again/still? Would she kick against the pricks, seeking extra priesthood privilege against the will of God, never satisfied until there are women apostles and prophets with the exact sameness?
I must note that most LDS sisters do not want men’s priesthood. Rather, they seek out God’s power in the works they perform, whether in church callings or in their personal lives. They understand that an ordination does not give a man anything if he does not walk humbly within that ordination. So it would be with a woman’s ordination. If there were a women’s priesthood, most would probably want it integrated into a separate Relief Society quorum, rather than integrated wholesale into the men’s group, where they likely could get lost in the mix anyway (those evil, evil men are like that, don’t you know).
My advice for those in Ordain Women? Walk humbly with circumspection. Toss away your pride and seek out God’s will – whether it means having priesthood ordination or not. Then treat others as God would have you treat them. Sneering with loaded terms like “male privilege” cheapens you and your stance within the Church. It makes you outliers in what could be a positive change for the Church.
Women with real power? Sherry Dew, Fiona Givens, relief society presidents, nursery leaders, mothers, single sisters, and many others, who use the righteous power God gives them and does something to move the actual work of God forward.