Women and the priesthood: the Lord’s prophets do not cave

This is a guest post by Cynthia J.

Depending on how you define it, I suppose I can be labeled a feminist. I believe a woman can aspire to any level of education or any job she desires. I stayed single until I was 34. At that age, I already owned a house, a car, and managed my own accounts without a husband all those years, and remained active in the Church all that time. I have two daughters, and would love nothing more than for them to feel strong, confident, and excited about their dreams for the future, whether it be in politics, business, medicine, or mothering. I want my daughters to feel the confidence to do all of that for themselves just like I did. I have a strong voice in my family. I’m no shrinking violet (just ask my husband). I have opinions, ideas (often brilliant), and dreams of my own. I believe women can do anything they set their mind to do. So in that sense, I am a feminist.

But then again, yes, I’m a stay-at-home mom. My DH and I liked the idea of the two of us raising our kids rather than a day care. I simply couldn’t imagine leaving my children all day to go work, so I was happy to stay home. It has never felt like a sacrifice to me. And, unlike feminists of the world-at-large, I do not believe in the Gloria Steinem-esque views on abortion, feminizing boys (my three are decidedly masculine), dominating my husband by bully-whipping him into doing exactly 50% of the household chores after he gets home from his full-time job, changing the rules and prerequisites of jobs to make them easier for women to get, finding offense at every piece of male/female humor, telling women they have to work in order to feel fulfilled, or that there should be no differences between men and women, at all, ever. Those differences are there, they are obvious, and they are eternal (See the Proclamation on the Family). In that sense, I am, apparently, not a feminist.

When it comes to church, I’ve held callings in just about every organization, except Scouts (knock on wood). My favorite, to date, was as a missionary. The experiences I had on the mission were so profound in their impact on my life and my testimony, that I still think of those experiences today when I teach my children or in any way try to sort out life’s little problems. I’m sure the “Mormon Feminist” women who have gotten so much attention lately have had their own experiences in the gospel, just as I had, for them to be active members now. But I’m completely puzzled by these women. Never, ever in all my time as a working woman, a member, a missionary, or a mother did I think I was somehow being cheated by being “denied” the priesthood.

Certainly, I have had my share of questions about “why” the church is organized as it is. O.K. Yeah. When I was younger, it bugged me a little. I mean, why was it only men in the priesthood? I didn’t feel any malice or bitterness about being unordained. Just prior to my mission I started to wonder about it more and more, and so I prayed about it — often. It was simply a nagging question in my mind. I was an intelligent, able woman. I was also firm in my belief that the prophet was, in fact, a prophet, and if there were something out of joint, he would correct it, or the Lord would correct my feelings about it. In his Devotional speech at BYU in August, Elder Ballard said:

Most everyone has family or friends who have been caught up in various troubling contemporary social issues. Arguing about the issues generally does not bring any resolution and, in fact, can create contention. There are some questions about the Church’s position on sensitive issues that are hard to answer to anyone’s satisfaction. However, when we seek the Lord in prayer about how to feel and what to do in these situations, the impression comes: Do you believe in Jesus Christ and do you follow Him and the Father?

After almost a year of earnest prayer, my answer came while I was in the field during a zone conference. My mission president taught us about the balance that exists in the gospel and how gender is part of that balance. Explaining all of it with scripture references would be the subject of an entire article, but Elder Ballard gave a beautifully condensed version of it in his talk in August:

In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife.

I can’t explain how my mission president’s talk changed me, but it was as if all the thoughts and questions in my mind fell exactly into place and it all made perfect sense. Balance in the gospel was the reason for the different gender roles. I also understood that balance was, in turn, part of the church. We have different roles to play, equally important, in what callings we serve in the church, and those roles are all vital to the smooth function of the wards and stakes, and all essential to building the Kingdom of God on the Earth.

I have been happy and at peace with this explanation of gender roles and priesthood for 20 years now, so it concerns me to learn that there are a number of women out there who are so dissatisfied with their eternal role in human existence that they feel they need to receive the priesthood to feel fully integrated in the church. Why? What’s the problem? I’m pretty busy. We don’t have enough to do as women, we need to start taking on every aspect of the Church too? Frankly, I’m worn out and don’t want another job. Or is this ambition? Are there women who feel ambitious and want to move up through the ranks and be the Prophet? I was unaware that ambition was a motivating factor in receiving callings of any kind in the church, and it has certainly been discouraged in men holding those callings.

Or is it the ordinances we aren’t allowed to receive because we are women? Oh….wait. We already get all the same temple ordinances and blessings as men. So, what gives ladies? I’m confused.
Honestly, I think what’s lacking here isn’t a priesthood ordination, it’s faith. I think if you want changes in the church, then you need to look at changing yourself and your perspective, not the church itself.

Elder Ballard said:

“Do we believe that this is the Lord’s Church? Do we believe that He has organized it according to His purposes and wisdom? Do we believe that His wisdom far exceeds ours? Do we believe that He has organized His Church in a manner that would be the greatest possible blessing to all of His children, both His sons and daughters?”

If you believe all that, then you need to pray for understanding, because change doesn’t come by demanding tickets to the priesthood session of conference, or having a letter writing campaign to bug church headquarters until they cave. Newsflash: the Lord and his prophets do not cave. I think the way to get answers is to go back to basics. Say some heartfelt prayers, read your scriptures, and wait patiently. The Lord will let you know in a way that gives you peace and understanding. He always does.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

38 thoughts on “Women and the priesthood: the Lord’s prophets do not cave

  1. “I have to wonder if those who agitate for this change would want to then worship a God who DOES cave. Seems to me that that would be evidence that He isn’t worthy of worship.”

    Look, the ordination thing is not my battle, but can we at least represent their views accurately rather than in straw man form? Nobody agitating for this thinks that they are going to make God cave. What they think is that mankind, mortal men and women, have not fully received God’s wisdom on this topic, and that when God’s wisdom is further revealed, we’ll find out that He favors ordination of women. Now, they could be totally wrong about that. But let’s at least accurately state their beliefs, and then explain why they’re wrong, rather than misrepresenting it. When you think your opponent is the one sinning, best to let them do it rather than start sinning yourself by saying things that ain’t so about what your opponent believes.

  2. Cynthia L, I think you make a decent point, but you are missing an important aspect of this, which is the following logical progression:

    1)Women currently do not have the priesthood in the Lord’s church.
    2)The prophets direct the Lord’s church on Earth.
    3)The Lord has decided not to give women the priesthood because the prophets have not announced that women can have the priesthood.
    4)Therefore, the Lord does not want women to have the priesthood.

    If the OW movement does not accept 2) we have a real problem with their claim that they are faithful members of the Church.

    But let’s say that “mortal men and women have not full received God’s wisdom on this topic,” as you suggest.

    This implies one of the following:

    1)The prophets have never asked.
    2)The prophets have asked and have received the answer that women should receive the priesthood but are hiding the answer (who knows why).
    3)The prophets simply don’t care.

    Believing 2) and 3) implies serious problems with the prophets, so we get back to that problem that people who believe this are not really faithful members of the Church. So, we are left with 1) as the only reasonable position. There is a problem with this as well: numerous prophets and apostles have said over time that they have considered and pondered the issue (including Elder Ballard and Pres. Hinckley), and they have said they still do not believe women should have the priesthood.

    I am left with no logical path to follow on how this is somehow a movement of faithful members of the Church. I am open to the possibility I may have missed something, but I don’t think I have.

  3. Here are some thoughts I wrote to myself while thinking about these issues on a macro scale. Frankly, it’s much bigger than a Priesthood issue. It’s societal and the result of 100yrs of industrialization and modernization.

    Consider the history or the world up until the last 50 or so. Men worked their tails off on a lot of hard labor, and likewise women too. Clearing and plowing fields, building barns, herding animals, washing clothes, sewing clothes, feeding chickens pigs, baking bread, storing food, etc. Running a household, raising and involving children in all this… These and more consumed all of men and womens time, and at that, for virtually all of human history families have been a subsistence level. Just barely getting by, and only a dry summer away from serious hunger…

    Now add in Administering the church, mission work, going to meetings or temple projects that take hours or longer by horse, etc. The roles weren’t necessarily fixed, but ministering and Administering and running a household was practically more than could be done.

    Adding in women in administration wouldn’t just burden the family, in that historical context its not only nonsensical but for subsistence level life it was potentially suicidal. Women didn’t ask or expect ordination because there was clearly work enough to do… And it was live saving meaningful work at that.

    Now the work of running a household and family is supplanted by consumerism – Walmart, washing machines, store bought bread and meat etc. all frees up massive amounts of time for women and men. Full-time schools have kids spending more time in the care of others than the immediate family. Womens roles have been supplanted and basically men too, but men still have the responsibility of administration and Missionary work etc.

    Women are just as capable, and in the last 50 or so years the conditions seem “right” for them to share more of the burden.

    Unfortunately, just as govt schools and consumerism has supplanted the primary role of women, consumerism and the govt, have not only swallowed the roles of the Father, but in large measure the church as well. Priesthood authority and power is still just as sacred and necessary in an eternal sense, but in large measure it’s disconnected from our lives. Govt welfare supplant the church and neighbors, or at least crowds it. Restrictions necessarily get imposed. Where the church once played a vital role in our lives now it’s basically extracurricular.

    Where do women and the Priesthood fit into this? I see the state of society and consider it a direct connection with consumerism and govt. crowding out the roles of families and Church.

    One thing to consider, just because women’s traditional work has been replaced (and improved…washing machines and their two edged sword seem on the whole “worth it”.. But what did we buy with the time) doesn’t mean we can add to women’s roles by reducing men’s roles.

    If I’m right in this assessment, we’d only further create problems by marginalizing the Priesthood role men carry in response to the hole created in women’s lives by modern society. The solution in my mind is to take the tools and blessings of modern society and combine it with a renewed appreciation and return to some of the lifestyle choices/routine of an earlier age. I’m quite certain our lives and activities and families and Church roles would have more meaning if the things we did were directly connected to our livelihood.

    Interestingly enough since the days of Brigham we’ve seen the great obstacle to a Zion people is heavy government and especially consumerism.

  4. Cynthia J, a few thoughts come to mind. In the Bible, the Lord does “cave” in a number of situations. The Lord caved into Abraham’s request to spare Sodom if he could find only 10 righteous people, as opposed to God’s initial demand of 50. The Lord caved into the Israelites request to appoint a king like other great nations, and appointed Saul. Jesus taught the parable of the importunate widow, suggesting that God sometimes does cave into the requests of people who pray to Him, simply because they have been so insistant.

    In the modern church, Wilford Woodruff “caved” regarding polygamy. At least that is the language he used in the Manifesto. Polygamy was not abolished because Wilford Woodruf recieved a revelation to abolish it. According to the Manifesto, polygamy was abolished because Wilford Woodruf profetically saw the destruction of the church, and made a deliberate decision to abolish it, not out of commandment, but of his own free will to spare the church from what he saw as certain destruction. Yes, he had a “vision.” But we forget that it was a vision, not a commandment or a revelation. It was a prophesy of what would happen because of the current political and religious climate in the US. President Kimball said some interesting things about the decision to revoke the ban on blacks and the priesthood. He said that people who published editorials criticising the church in the Tribune probably made it less likely that the ban would be revoked. However, President Kimball did read the many heartfelt petitions sent by church members to the Brethren on the subject.

    I think that President Kimball’s approach is the one to learn the most from in the modern church. Church leaders DO listen and consider heartfelt requests from faithful members for changes in the church. However, they are naturally antagonistic towards grass-roots progressive activism.

    I believe the church’s ban on women and the priesthood is a natural byproduct of the culture and values of those who lead and serve in the church. It is not likely to change, nor would a change reflect a natural shift in the ideals and attitudes of the general LDS populace. It would be artificially progressive. But I see no doctrinal reason why it couldn’t theoretically change. Women have the priesthood in the temple. There were prophetesses and leader women in the Bible.

    But today’s church is made up of people who believe in the arguments Chris has presented, so it would be unnatural, and unnescessary for God to revoke the ban on women.

  5. Nate, it shouldn’t be debatable that the rising generation of saints would have suffered immensely if the women shouldered the Priesthood in addition too the men, 100+ years ago. Imagine the children of the Moyle family if the Father and the Mother left the home? The burden of the family fell on the Mother because the Father was shouldering the burden of the church. That does not trivialize or diminish the role of the Mother, it adds to it! This have changed… Women have more time and aren’t really as family centric in their daily activities (not a value judgement, just saying 4hrs not spent on bread and laundry necessarily means there are 4hrs done in something that likely isn’t directly for the family) so they look to fill the gap with church service (something meaningful, to their credit). Maybe Priesthood becomes more possible because of the advances of modernity.

    But I think society does appear to have a suffered spiritually in proportion to the advances and comforts we’ve made physically. Maybe ordination is the panacea. I’m talking theoretically here, not arguing for. My internal feeling is we need a renewed focus on the family with our TIME not our platitudes. I don’t see how women shouldering more church administration advances the time spent with families. BTW, administration does seem to be what we’re talking about, not power in the Priesthood through service and righteousness as women in Zion already have those blessings available do they not?

  6. “Women have the priesthood in the temple.” And you believe that because of what? What church leaders, living or dead, has said women have the priesthood in the temple?

  7. Good catch IDIAT. Women do NOT have the priesthood in the temple. Temple workers receive authority to perform some ordinances on behalf of the priesthood. Women also receive some priesthood ordinances (just as they receive baptism through the priesthood outside of the temple).

  8. Women are ordained to become priestesses in the temple. It’s right in the ceremony.

    Chris, I’m not disagreeing with any of your pragmatic arguments that fit our time and our culture. They are all good arguments. I’m only saying that apart from those pragmatic considerations, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why women couldn’t theoretically hold the priesthood.

    Ordaining women would nescessitate a considerable cultural rewrite in the way we think about women’s and men’s roles in current church culture. This rewrite seems to me to be neither nescessesary, nor desirable, considering who we are as a people, and what our values are.

    I just don’t see these kind of gender roles and priesthood bans as nescessarily eternal in nature, given that they are ordained priestesses in the temple, and that there were prophetesses in the Old Testament.

    To me, the ban on women in the priesthood seems to fit comfortably within cultural notions in Western religious life. But there may come a time when that changes. Not because of “civil rights” or anything like that. But simply because the values of our church have changed, the culture has changed, and people start thinking about things in new ways. Then the brethren might ask: “should we ordain women?”

    Right now, there is absolutely no reason for the brethren to ask that question, given the concerns and attitudes Chris has brought up, and the fact that these concerns permeate church conciousness.

  9. A few points –

    Women and men do not receive the same in the Temple, as women are specifically placed below their husbands in the endowment.

    Motherhood and Priesthood are not equal, and are not a good example of how neither can work fully without both genders. Motherhood is not given to all women, nor is it dependant on being given from one person to the next. Priesthood does not require women for almost all of its work. Aaronic Priesthood holders are generally not married, and have full use of their Priesthood. As it is, single mothers have to get Priesthood blessings from soneone outside their home, while single fathers can bless their children without getting a woman to allow for the “fullness” of the Priesthood.

    The “I’d be too busy” and “It would take both parents away from home” excuses don’t work, as the same arguments had been used when considering ordaining all white males over 12 and considering ordaining all worthy males. I am sure there were plenty of men who needed to have more time with their families or felt too overwhelmed with the work they already had to do (inside and outside the Church), and would have rather stayed unordained.

    I do not support the current Ordain Women movement. I think it is too much, too soon, and something we are not at all ready for. I think the protest and press conference are making use of pressure by the world, which cannot have an effect on change in the Church. This is neither small nor simple, and will do more to distance people from feminist issues than encourage ideas that change is possible.

    I do, however, think we will eventually have Priestesses. We are are long way off, though, because hearts and minds will need to be changed. We should be doing things to look forward to what changes may come (as in the 9th Article of Faith), and asking for better understanding of what we have now. Accepting “we don’t know”, “no”, “not now”, and “not according to our current understanding” is difficult, especially when we think we see where the Church will eventually be and are impatient to have it now, but we need to remember who is at the helm, whose Church this is, and that we will be given more not just when we ask but when we are ready.

  10. Frank, “as women are specifically placed below their husbands in the endowment.”

    This is a huge misunderstanding of how the endowment works and the role of women. Women are not “below” men. They are given different responsibilities. Am I “below” a woman because I cannot bear children? Am I “below” a temple sealer because I have not been given those keys? It is simply not true that women are “below” their husbands.

    Nate, there is a difference between saying “women have the priesthood in the temple” (which is not true) and saying women can “become priestesses.” The first implies they have the priesthood now, which is not true, they are not given the priesthood at the temple. They are given the potential to “become priestesses.” Nobody on the Earth knows exactly what this means. Does this mean they get the Aaronic priesthood, the Melchezidek priesthood or something else entirely? So, sorry, you can’t get out of this one. It is simply not true that women “have the priesthood in the temple.”

  11. Adding to Geoff: We believe that PH is given by the laying on of hands. Is there a point where women have hands placed on their heads, and someone says “I ordain you to the priesthood?” NO! It isn’t done in the initiatory (where it’s done vicariously for men) nor in the endowment. I know there are blogs where sisters say they received some kind of priesthood as a result of participating in the initiatory and/or endowment ceremonies, but I’ve never heard a church leader support that position. If anyone can produce and unambigous statement to the contrary, please produce it.

  12. GeoffB – I’m referring specifically to the wording that men are ordained to be Priests to God and women Priestesses to their husbands (not to God), and the oath of Eve to hearken unto her husband as he hearkens unto God. That is placing women below men.

  13. Frank, I know what you are referring to. “Below” implies an inferior status, which is simply not true. Please go discuss with a smart temple worker you know or your stake patriarch. Women are not “below” their husbands. They are equal partners who have different roles within the Gospel. Believe me, my wife would never, ever, EVER have taken that oath if she thought she was below me, and she has spent many years pondering the different temple ceremonies.

  14. “I do, however, think we will eventually have Priestesses. We are are long way off, though, because hearts and minds will need to be changed.”

    This thread is so baffling and saddening to me. What we are now lacking as a society and in particular as a church is not having our hearts changed to look with anticipation toward the next female bishop.

    Most of us have no issue with that concept in abstract. For comparison, I remember reading on another blog that after women prayed in conference, now a particular woman felt confident that she could “teach her daughters they could fly” or something to that effect.

    As if the doctrines of savlation, the plan of happiness, the covenants we have now, that we rarely live up to, was just something extra. We just need to re-arrange a few things AND THEN the great day of the Lord will be upon us.

    The Nephites built up Zion on the principles of righteousness, Enoch built up Zion on the principles of righteous. We suppose we can build Zion by innovative politiking. Tragedy in this world is taking place here and now, my heart weeps at the suffering and loss. I wish I were more holy and hope for the same of those around me.

    And here we are focused on this petty issue. Yes it’s petty. Men and Women far greater than you or I did far more with less. We are blessed beyond all measure when compared with any prior dispensation. We have greater access to revelations, greater access to temples, a robust church organization and programs to offer support. And yet we think we need greater privilege before we can take the leap of faith and simply practice our faith.

    Maybe you don’t see the politicization of our faith the same way I do (and I’m not just talking Ds and Rs)…. And this does not mean I think the YW are often dis-served through our programs — and that is the danger of a program. The map is not the territory, the menu is not the dinner, and the program is not the gospel. And yet we spend so much time and emphasis on the program that to the YW they feel as if the program is what’s important. Gospel principles are what’s important, love, faith, sacrifice, sanctification, service, kindness, humility, prayer, meditation, the list goes on.

    Somewhere along the way we think the programs have become so important that we naturally just think if we can tweak things in administration we can get it right. We have the principles of righteousness right here in front of us. We have the priesthood right there to enable us to progress toward salvation as our Father intends.

    I realize participating in these discussions won’t change minds. In the extreme, I’m a traditionalist culturally compromised bigot and you’re a politicking apostate (no I’m not making that accusation). So we’re just talking past each other.

    But as an early comment said, could “no” ever be accepted? Or must someone with uber-intelligence feel the need to add an asterix after the “no” that says, “*no, only on account of the unrighteouness or blindness of the leaders or membership.” It’s a tragedy that not once, not once have I ever seen someone in favor of ordination of women (or for that manner gay marriage or rampant socialism) make a spiritually convincing argument AGAINST their agenda. It’s as if it’s not even possible to conceive there could be another way.

  15. I would love to get a good explanation of how this does not set up a heirarchy of women->men->God. This pains me no end, and I am glad to hear you and your wife do not see it that way. It helps offset the many times I hear of men who use this to assert their right to be the ultimate decider in the home.

    I cannot see a way where this does not place women as subordinate to men. Men covenant to hearken to God, making men subordinate, not equal to God. Women covenant to hearken to men as they hearken to God, making women subordinate to both, not equal to men. Why not have them both covenant to God, if both are the same?

    (though this may be derailing the topic, as this part of the endowment has nothing to do with Priesthood.)

  16. chris – did you miss everything I wrote after what you quoted? We are supposed to be looking for and anticipating the “many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God”(AoF9). I do -not- believe this should be done with politicking, and very much disagree with what is being done in the Ordain Women movement.
    This is a church of change. It is not finished, nor should we expect it to be. Yes, it is completely possible that women will never get the Priesthood, and I’m ok with that too. I am not in the Presidency of this Church and I am certainly not the Savior, who knows precicely where it will go, no matter what our hopes and desires.

    And if you didn’t see an argument from someone who supports female ordination but is against the agenda of the OW movement, you didn’t read my response well. I think the movement is completely incorrect in involving the media and protesting as they are. That’s not how change in the Church works. I will, however, welcome female ordination, if it ever comes, and be greatful for the new understanding we will be given on it.

    I am not hoping to change minds, only to seek understanding of ideas different than mine. My different understanding of things should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity for us to learn from each other.

  17. Frank, regarding the priesthood:

    Here is what you say:

    “I cannot see a way where this does not place women as subordinate to men. Men covenant to hearken to God, making men subordinate, not equal to God. Women covenant to hearken to men as they hearken to God, making women subordinate to both, not equal to men. Why not have them both covenant to God, if both are the same?”

    1)The first point is that all of God’s children are equal in the eyes of God. People are given free agency and therefore are not “subordinate.” Ever. But people have different roles. Your EQ president may temporarily be the leader with the keys to lead the Elders. He may ask you (kindly) to do something. This does not make you subordinate to him. It is not a boss-employee relationship. It is a voluntary leader-voluntary follower relationship where you can decide whether or not to follow his lead. Most people will, and the quorum will function best when people follow the leader, but you do not follow blindly and he is not your boss.
    2)In the Gospel, the leader is the servant, not the boss. I was talking to my HPGL after he had just been called and I said, “now you are our new boss.” He responded: “no, now I am your new servant.” Think about it: the HPGL has to go to all of these PEC meetings and stake meetings, and the rest of us who are not in the leadership do not have to go. They are the ones doing all the hard stuff — we are just following. The savior made it clear that being a leader is about being a servant, not being a boss.
    3)Remember D&C 121 on the role of the priesthood. Long-suffering, patience, etc. If you act like a dictator you lose the power of the priesthood.
    4)You are NOT subordinate to your bishop. He has a different role. You have a different role. You are equal in the Gospel. This is the great strength of the true Gospel.

    So, God puts men and women on the Earth. He put a man first. Why? Because the man has the priesthood. This is God’s power for creating worlds. God gives this power to men so they will use it righteously. But a man cannot exist without the woman. The woman, Eve, is the hero of the story because she discovers that without eating the forbidden fruit men and women will never be able to progress. If Eve had never come along then the man would have been a “lone man” in the Garden, completely stagnant for all eternity. It was the woman who discovered the secret. So God sets up a system where the man temporarily is the leader in the Priesthood, but Eve is the leader in many other things. Only she can bear children. Women are generally more attuned to the Spirit and are spiritual advisors to their husbands. This is a system of checks and balances, yin and yang. The woman has the ability to give birth through water and blood (symbolic of the Sacrament and the Savior). The man has the ability to baptize, which is also symbolic of the Sacrament and the Savior (through water our sins are washed away and we are reminded of the blood of Christ). The woman gives the first birth. The man gives the second birth through the priesthood. As the OP says, this is the balance of the Gospel.

    So, the role of the man, holder of the priesthood, is to complement his wife’s spirituality and ability to give birth with his own ability to potentially lead the family spiritually *if he remains righteous.* Think of the endowment ceremony. There is a conditional there. The woman can only follow her husband *as he hearkens to the Father.* The woman does not follow blindly. She can make her own choices. She is not subordinate. The man is not her boss. She can follow *if and only if her husband hearkens to the Father and to righteous priesthood power.*

    So, in effect, there is a lot of pressure on the man, just as there is pressure on the bishop or any person with a calling that involves responsibility. This is not “power” in the worldly sense. It is acting as a servant and following God so you can save yourself and your whole family. And if you blow it and act unrighteously, you can lose everything.

  18. Chris, I have to admire your depth of feeling about this. You’ve obviously been reading the Book of Mormon and likening it to whatever you think you see happening in the church today.

    You have a point, that this issue is a distraction from the weightier matters of the law. But I think you are misinterpreting motivations.

    Let me give you some heartening news: According to a recent Pew poll, 90% of LDS women do NOT want women to have the priesthood. Yet add this alarming statistic to your misery: 50% of LDS men are in FAVOR of women getting the priesthood!

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/flunkingsainthood/2010/12/why-do-mormon-men-want-women-to-have-the-priesthood-more-than-women-want-it-for-themselves.html

    I was shocked too. Until I started thinking about it. The Ordain Women women, are an extreme minority in the church. Almost all Mormon women, for one reason or another, are content with things as they are.

    But what is with the men??!! Why would LDS men (like Frank and I), who really have nothing to gain or loose, go out on a limb to say they favor women’s ordination?

    Believe me, it has nothing to do with “teaching our daughters to fly” or making structural tweeks in our schauvinist organization so that suddenly we’ll take a giant leap forward in our spirituality.

    But it does have everything to do with sensitivity, defference, respect, and decades of immasculization and feminization of the male psyche by both Gentile and LDS culture. But I just can’t see any of the Book of Mormon hued tragedy that is saddening you so deeply.

  19. I only skimmed the discussion, so forgive me if someone brought this up already.

    First, great post Cynthia. I’m not sure I agree with you on some of the points, but I think that this is an issue where reasonable minds can disagree, so I think you represented your position well (I’m not sure you represented Ordain Women’s position properly, but that’s nit-picky).

    Second, and I’m not implying that this applies to you, but I do sometimes worry when I read posts like this. I think to myself, “What if God did give women the priesthood?” Would we interpret that as the prophets caving? What would happen to people’s testimonies when they saw the prophets “caving”? It seems like a dangerous way to frame the issue. Again, I’m not trying to read into your thoughts, but sometimes the absoluteness that some people use in this discussion, on both sides frankly, worries me.

  20. Nate: another example is the matter of JS, the 116 pages, and Martin Harris.

    To paraphrase CS Lewis, if we don’t do what the Lord says, it’s as if He says “Okay, have it your way” and then we have to live with the consequences.

    I’ve often noticed how in the scriptures and in the history of the modern dispensation that the Lord rarely offers explanations ahead of time. He expects us to take things on faith.

    But it’s human nature for us to ask “why?” and demand an answer of anyone who tells us what to do, before we render assent or obedience.

  21. @Book,
    I’m not convinced it’s completely human nature and not simply western society…

  22. H-nu, good point. Western civilization does seem to have more than its share of questioning of authority. But the scriptures are replete with examples of hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, and people disbelieving the prophets.

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