Women and the Priesthood

——–under construction————-   finish later

I think it is appropriate to compare the issue of Women and the Priesthood to Blacks and the Priesthood. I think there is a lot in the church that is essentially “traditions of men” carried over from Gentile Christianity. I think that Joseph Smith was incredibly progressive in trying to break some of these long held traditions with revealing principles such as a “heavenly mother”, and the role of “prophetesses” among the church. I think most the church and its leaders are largely ignorant of the precedences set by Joseph Smith in essentially giving both Blacks and Women the priesthood in his day… a progressive move that the religious world was simply not ready for at that time. But what is so sad is that those things never caught on in his day because the world wasn’t ready for it—but now the world has passed the church in its views of equality and righteousness! Modern prophets have always been about revealing progressive ideas of equality and righteousness to a world entrenched in outdated cultural and religious dogma. But what has happened to our prophets? They show very little difference from the religious leaders Joseph & god started Mormonism to escape.

I for one have often wondered how my wife and I can be set apart to be “priests and priestesses” in the temple without us both holding the priesthood. I’v really felt that it wasn’t “my priesthood” anyway, but “our” priesthood. I believe this is why positions above bishop call for a man to be married. Because an unmarried man does not hold the entirety of the higher priesthood… because the highest expression of the priesthood can only be expressed in one who is celestially married. (So I say shame of bishops who don’t include their wives in the decision making processes. They are cheating the ward of blessings.) For the last few years I’v often felt like it would be entirely appropriate for my wife to join me in giving blessings to my children.

The priestess is not only an important aspect of the LDS temple ceremony, but also of many ancient religions predating the apostasy.

The priestess is not only an important aspect of the LDS temple ceremony, but also of many ancient religions predating the apostasy.

I see the symbolism involved in the “hidden” aspect of God which a woman or our mother-God or the feminine aspect of God seems to represent. (the Holy Ghost/Spirit is feminine in most ancient traditions, and all mystic traditions Iv encountered.) But at the same time I’v thought we’re a bit cheated in the church by not having the equality of women more visibly represented. I’v often wondered if women hold the positions of preeminence in the Spirit World (God knows they probably greatly out number the men in the higher regions of paradise).

I think that as the Times of the Gentiles draws to a close in the coming few decades, and the new age begins, we will see the abolishment of many of the “traditions of men” that have been adopted by the church from the Gentile Church. I think we’ll see a greater equalizing of the relationship between church leaders and lay people of the church (I don’t think the church hierarchy or apostles ever wanted to have the “god-like” status and control that many members give them or that utah’s social perceptions have given them). Hopefully we’ll see the Stake presidency and high council given the equal perception of authority and power that D&C 107:24–37 say they should have.

I think we’ll see a greater utilization and acceptance of the gifts of the spirit such as the gift of prophesy (for ANY individual, regardless of age or gender… that would mean far more prophetesses). And who knows… maybe we’ll see women formally given the priesthood, so they can visibly stand in their temple ordained positions of priestesses. I surely would welcome that… because in my mind its already a hidden reality… Perhaps I’ll never be a bishop because of it, but I would sure tell my ward that the bishopbric was a calling shared between me and my wife and I would involve her in all decisions (unless she didn’t want to be involved). And every ward should know that, as Julene has reminded me, that its the relief society president who really keeps a ward functioning anyway.

I would hope that the only reason men stand visibly as the leaders in the church, and not women, is to protect women from the bad-talking and condemnation that inevitably goes with visible leadership… but if a woman wants to be the visible leader… is a man really justified to hold her down even if its in the name of protection?

Issues to Doctrinally Address.

-Blessings of health and comfort are not priesthood ordinance. The laying on of hands to administer to the sick is not a priesthood ordinance.  It is a gift of the spirit. To forbid women to do it is wrong.

-Prophesy is not solely a function of the priesthood. To make women feel bad about doing it is wrong.

-dig up the articles and links to show evidence of joseph giving priesthood to blacks and women.

-men have always feared the physical and spiritual power women have over them and over men in general. they seek to subjugate that power. This is not to be in the new age… men are to empower women and gender equality is to be based on principles of freely given self sacrifice, not manipulation or subjugation.

Women are culturally programmed to see their primary role as being breeders in the home. Those who do not embrace this role are made to feel inferior in various ways.
Strong family and gender roles are obviously important for a balanced and healthy society. But when we manipulate people into a certain lifestyle at young ages using threats of “not making it to the celestial kingdom” we do more harm than good. Using manipulation instead of appealing to an individuals sense of wisdom, selflessness or humanity often backfires. D&C 131:1–4 is taken out of context and used in manipulating people who may be unready for marriage or family to jump in because of social/religious pressure. Women have been made to feel like having more children or children sooner makes them more “righteous” even if it is not the path of wisdom. Once again, instead of pointing out the advantages and disadvantages or wisdom in certain paths, women are manipulated with truisms, homilies and threats of eternal consequence and relegation.
Women are culturally programmed to feel they play a religiously subservient role to males or the male priesthood.
Both women and men in Mormonism are taught to respect and “honor the Priesthood” in an attitude of humility and submission. Respect for authority and power structures is also an important part of a healthy society and national organization. But throughout most of history women have been excluded from those power structures in both religious and political organizations? Why? Because their “place is in the home”? The subtle difference in the idealized active and passive characteristics of men and women should certainly be taken into account when making cultural decisions on gender roles; but it is my belief that historically POWER has always ruled (law of the jungle) and this is the main reason for why women have FAR less frequently held positions of government and religious authority. Maybe they don’t have the stomach for it, or maybe its because of gender domination, be what it may, my point is that inequality brings sickness and gender balance IS the path of wisdom and greatest self actualization. We as a society and as a church do not understand what we are missing by not empowering our women to be equals in intelligence and authority. I suggest that as with the blacks and the priesthood the disunity caused by this subtle inequality a large part of the reason why the Church was and is still being chastened and must wait to “be redeemed” (D&C 105:4–9).





A good thought on Mormonism and Women and the Priesthood….

You may have heard about the big to-do over a group of women that organized a “wear pants to church day” movement which was held this weekend. The goals of this movement are assumed by many, but few people it seems, took the time to really understand what it was all about. This was evidenced by the many comments that were made on the Facebook page which was set up to help organize the movement. After only a few days the creators decided to take the page down, because of the many vulgar, demeaning and even life-threatening comments made on the page (see http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2012/12/16/women-who-want-to-wear-pants-to-church-outrage-mormon-traditionalists/ for more information).

It’s really quite sad that people, likely Mormon people, would stoop to this type of intimidation to stop something that they do not understand or agree with. In addition to these outrageous examples though, there are others that were kind but said they didn’t agree with the premise or how it was being conducted. I respect these people’s decisions. Though upon talking to many people that I know, I found that few understood even the basics of what was happing. Once I explained a bit of it, they often agreed with what was being done. It is for this reason that I want to address a few of the misconceptions on this whole matter, and the Mormon feminist movement in general.

First off, I want everyone to know that I am an active, fairly conservative male member of the Church. I hold a current temple recommend, I served a mission, and I do my home teaching fairly well. I do however, feel it important that when faced with an intellectual issue, that I don’t just repost what someone else said on Facebook, that I don’t go to the opposition to find my facts or that I don’t make assumptions based only on what I have heard from others. I think it is important that each of us “prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), that we seek after those things that are “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous” wherever they come from (Articles of Faith 1:13).

The most common problem people have with the wear pants to church movement that I have heard is that church, specifically sacrament meeting is not a place to protest, it is a place to worship our Savior. I and the organizers of the movement 100% agree with this. In 1971 the First Presidency of the Church said it had no position what people wear to church. In an official statement made by the Church spokesman Eric Hawkin this was further explained that people should wear nice clothes as a sign of respect, but that the Church would not dictate what that was (see http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-mormon-women-pants-facebook-20121214,0,3860687.story).

This is further emphasized by the fact the people wear whatever they can all over the world. Many investigators I worked with on my mission in a very affluent area of the United State wore things that might be considered inappropriate simply because they did not know any better. In many countries people wear rags to Church, but they are the best rags they own. Would those same people receive demeaning and even life-threatening comments? Everyone that wore pants was encouraged to wear their nicest, most respectful pants they owned. One prominent blog even said: “not jeans, or sweats, or yoga pants, but dress pants. Tailored suits and flowing shalwars and holiday-appropriate black velvet. Pants that are modest, elegant, and feminine, and not at all out of place in a church house” (see http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/11915).

What were they trying to accomplish by wearing pants to church? (And as a side note wearing purple for men or women that did not want to wear pants). The goal was a sign of solidarity. It is sign that many faithful members of the Church are comfortable with the changing in women’s roles in the Church. Perhaps that needs some explaining on its own.

For years (all the way back to Brigham Young in fact) members of the leadership of the Church prayed that men of African descent could hold the priesthood, and that all worthy members of the Church could receive all the blessing of the temple. The civil rights movement of the 60’s came and went, but still God did not grant that revelation. While it has never been said specifically why these blessings were withheld for so long, there is a growing number of people in Church academic circles that felt this was not reveled until the late 1970’s perhaps because the members of the Church were not ready to receive it (this falls in line with many other revelatory experiences found in the scripture, the Law of Moses for example). As it was, there were many that had a difficult time accepting it even after years of integration.

This idea, that things can be changing, often things that buck the cultural norms of the day, but that have nothing to do the revealed doctrine of the Church, is much the same as the “wicked traditions of the fathers” or the “traditions of men, mingled with scriptures” that have hampered so many people throughout the scriptures. Just because something is of “ancient date” does not make it God’s revealed will. Most of the things that the organizers hoped to bring to the public’s attention have nothing to do with doctrine or priesthood (granted there are a few extremists that do take it that far, but the majority do not).

A few things that I personally feel passionate about are these: Why cannot women pray in General Conference? Why do young men’s programs get nearly double the funding of young women’s programs? Why cannot women serve in many of the callings that do not require priesthood leadership? Why women as aren’t encouraged to serve missions (this seems to be changing though)? Why the priesthood is usually compared to motherhood as opposed to fatherhood? Why, with the many changes to the temple covenants over the years, do some still place emphasis on men’s position over women?

I want to end by saying that I believe that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). I believe that unless God says otherwise, the priesthood is men’s call to serve God’s children. I do believe that it was correct that Emma Smith, Eliza Snow and many others blessed their families in the name of Jesus Christ in the early days of the church, that women served as prophetess in the scriptures, and that women continue to this day to bless and serve in the temple in some kind of joint administration of the priesthood with their husbands and the male members of Church. I believe that our Church is lead by a prophet of God that receives revelation.

I also believe that traditions and cultural norms that blind us will need to be broken away before we can have a restitution of all things and see ourselves as God sees us.