“He Wouldn’t and I Couldn’t”: Tensions over Healing in the Household of Faith

In her essay, "Women as Healers in the Modern Church", Betina Lindsey relates the story of a Mormon couple who struggled to find common ground in regards to administering to their child.

The woman observed that her husband was

…hesitant to administer when [their] children were sick.  She was very concerned about her son who needed an operation, but her husband said, ‘Let’s just wait and see how it goes.’  [She said] … I would have felt better if my son had been given a blessing, beforehand, but my husband wouldn’t and I couldn’t.

Similarly, another husband observed,

If one of the kids has a sore throat, I don’t think it’s time for a blessing.  If they were in the hospital with a serious illness, then it would be different.  However, his wife felt differently, ‘I think a blessing can be a preventative to worse things to come.  He says I worry too much; but I feel helpless sometimes because he’s the one with the priesthood.  I’m put into the position of nagging him into giving a blessing he doesn’t feel necessary.’

While it is impossible to understand all of the marital dynamics at work in these brief glimpses, they provide some illumination on the issue of "presiding in the equal partnership" as well as on the challenge of finding legitimate avenues for women to exercise their spiritual gifts.

Most members would agree that women are not precluded from receiving or seeking any of the spiritual gifts outlined in Doctrine & Covenants Section 46, "And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed, and to others it is given to heal."  This is not a gendered statement.  Yet while it seems that Mormon women are not officially forbidden to heal, they are prohibited from engaging in the rituals of healing.  The current Handbook states that, “only brethren who hold the necessary priesthood and are worthy may perform an ordinance or blessing or stand in the circle. “In this system, women become “hidden healers;” often the gift of healing that literally lies at their fingertips is unused, accidentally discovered and sometimes serves as the source of confusion or guilt.

One woman remembers:

When I was twelve years old, my father was rapidly deteriorating from Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He slept downstairs and one night I felt prompted by an inner voice to go downstairs.  I didn’t but the next morning my mother called me awake … and told me he had quit breathing and was dying.  I ran down to sit with him while she called the family and Bishop.  Somehow I felt I could do something about it.  I held his hand in mine and sincerely prayed as best as a twelve-year old can.  After a moment his eyes opened and he looked at me and asked, "What did you do?  My lungs lifted and I could breathe again."  He said he’d been fighting to live all night and felt like he should give up.  It was a very humbling thing and we both knew that the spirit had worked through me.  A few months later, he did die, but we were all better prepared for it by then.  I hadn’t labelled it as a healing blessing until years later when I was listening to a lecture about experiences like this in the church.  I’ve always felt a need to heal the hurts of others.  I would like to have the option to use that power, but I’m not sure what makes it OK to call on it.  It seems like the natural thing to do.  I would like to have that permission.

It would seem that the last letter from the First Presidency on women’s role in administering to their sick children (1914) can be found in here and presents the following question:

4. Have the sisters the right to administer to sick children?

Answer: Yes; they have the same right to administer to sick children as to adults, and may anoint and lay hands upon them in faith.

This official statement has been followed up by an entry in Doctrines of Salvation (1953) that reads:

A wife does not hold the priesthood in connection with her husband, but she enjoys the benefits thereof with him; and if she is requested to lay hands on the sick with him, or with any other officer holding the Melchizedek priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety. It is no uncommon thing for a man and wife unitedly to administer to their children, and the husband being mouth, he may properly say out of courtesy, "By authority of the holy priesthood in us vested."

Early on in parenthood, my husband and I faced a similar situation to the couples in the opening scenarios.  Our first baby was feverish and seemed somewhat lethargic.  I felt impressed to ask my husband to administer to him, but he thought we should wait.  Torn between my concern for the baby and the questions surrounding sustaining my husband, I considered calling our home teachers, but felt awkward and embarrassed.  I questioned my own revelation instead, and found solace in my own fervent prayers.  Looking back, I do not fault my young husband, for unrighteous dominion.  I think in his uncertainty of using the priesthood in his new role as father, he sincerely did not want to trivialize its power.  Yet the fact remains — this in this situation, we were not equal partners. 

In speaking with other Mormon women, I have found that this is not an uncommon scenario at some point during their marriages.  Many of them wonder, “What is the correct course of action for a woman who feels her sick child should receive a blessing, if her husband disagrees?” or “How do I use my spiritual gift to heal?”

What could be the benefits of having women participate in the rituals of healing?  One would be to strengthen the church at large by increasing the spiritual authority of more than half its members, including single mothers; another would be an increase of faith among women who are uncertain of what to do with their gifts of the spirit and fear “doing something wrong.” Finally, re-instituting the role of women as healers could, in fact, foster more equality between marriage partners.  Imagine equal partners who could jointly bless their children instead of a woman having to ask a husband who disagrees or may not feel or be worthy to do so.  As Orthodox Jewish feminist Blu Greenberg has noted, “I learned that there is a difference between doing something yourself and observing someone else doing it, a matter of great significance in a tradition that is highly focused on ritual.”  

Current praxis is challenging to equal partnership in parenthood, especially in view of our rich heritage of female healers and prophets upholding their right to assume this role, particularly with their own children.  In view of this historical precedent, Mormon women may ask, “Why may we not live so as to rebuke disease?” as they seek to lay claim to their spiritual gifts.

Comments

  1. Lets pretend your spouse is horribly ill (high fever, sweating, not really concious, vomiting, etc.) It’s the middle of the night, and you’re terrified. What do you do? If you hold the priesthood, you annoint them with oil, lay your hands on their head, call upon the power of God using the authority that you hold and give them a blessing. Okay, now lets say that the horribly ill spouse is the husband; now what do you do? Call the home teachers? What if you feel that you have the ‘gift of healing’ then what do you do? Say a really intense prayer? I’ve never been in that situation (thankfully) but I know that if I ever was I would feel helpless and that anything I did was horribly inadequate. Do men feel that way after they give a blessing?

  2. So how do men learn to be dependent on others, Rose?

  3. I found this to be a very interesting post, but after reading all of it and the subsquent comments, I find it to be more of an issue of marital communication and collaboration than of whether or not women should have the priesthood and the ability to “lay hands” upon the sick.

    1) It is not contested that women have the power to heal. That being the case, it does not matter whether that power comes from the priesthood, from our foundation of faith, or from the mercy of God accessed through prayer. If we heal, we heal. With that knowledge, do we need anything more?

    2) If there is an issue of a blessing being given or not given, that seems to be more of an issue of a marital communication problem than anything else. Husbands often feel that their wives overreact. That being said, husbands also often respond very well to having the matter explained to them frankly and directly.

    Communication seems to me to be 9/10ths of this issue. We are given guidelines for a reason. We may never have a satisfactory response as to why women don’t “get” the priesthood handed down from the first presidency. I personally believe that a large reason we do not all have it is so that we may learn to have to ask for help, learn to be dependent on others, especially within a marriage. If we all had it, why would we need each other? It is one more contributor that teaches and binds our families together. At least that’s my take.

  4. Geoff J, I understand that and agree with you about not needing the priesthood to heal. Now. Two years ago I wasn’t as liberated from cultural Mormonism as I am currently. (Of course, I personally would like the priesthood for other reasons – not the least of which is the opportunity for women to contribute to defining policy and doctrine for the body of the church.)

    But how many Mormon men and women would also agree? I think the very idea of a woman laying hands on and healing is threatening to average Mormons’ conception of priesthood responsibility. I can’t even tell you how many LDS people I know who would be horrified by the idea – even though there lots of scriptural and historical precidents.

    So let’s bring on the change. But how to go about that?

  5. I’m so embarrassed! Triple post! I didn’t think they were going through…. sorry.

  6. Wow great post kris! Thank you so much.

  7. I think it’s time for the church and its members to stop ignoring/rejecting this empowering and ennobling doctrine and give women the permission to find this talant and gift within themselves.

    Or we could just give women the priesthood. That would work too.

    Caroline, our scriptures say you don’t need the priesthood or the current priesthood rituals to heal. You can be a healer today. That is the point of my responding post I linked to in #4.

  8. Kris,
    Thanks for a wonderful post. I can relate to the women quoted because I had a somewhat similar experience

    A couple of years ago I accidently poisoned my 14 pound pug Penelope. I left the door open to my garage, and she got in and ate enough rat poison to kill a much larger dog. Luckily, I realized it right away, took her to the vet, got her stomach pumped, etc. The vets seemed to think she would make it, but I was agonized and heartsick. The dog I loved like a child had almost died because of me.

    I felt strongly that she should have a priesthood blessing. I know some of you might find that ridiculous, but it was incredibly important to me that we do everything in our power to save her. I asked my husband. He wasn’t comfortable with blessing an animal.

    I begged my husband. I cried. I was so disgusted with him refusing that I couldn’t even look at him. I was humiliated that I had to beg for this – especially when he knew how hard it is for me to ask for a priesthood blessing under any circumstance. I had never felt so powerless in my marriage before. He had something I didn’t – something that I knew would help her – and he was refusing to use it. And there was nothing I could do about it.

    Eventually, he reluctantly performed the blessing. I held her as he spoke. He was overcome with the Spirit and sobbed and told me later that he now knew it had been the right thing to do.

    So my story ended happily. But only because he eventually gave in. Having experienced the feeling of terror and helplessness with my dog ill, I can only imagine what it would be like with a child.

    This experience made me believe it is wrong to concentrate that kind of power within only one partner of the marriage. In my ideal world, both women and men would share their priesthood and bless and annoint jointly. (But if one wasn’t willing, then the other could step in and do it.) However, I would be happy with smaller steps. If it was acknowledged that wives shared with husbands equal decision making power on when to bless, then I’d be more comfortable. Or, if it were acknowledged that healing by faith and by the gift of healing were just as powerful as a priesthood blessing, then that would be ok as well.

    As it stands now, perhaps I do have the gift to heal. But I wouldn’t know it since it’s such a cultural faux-pas to even entertain the idea that a woman can heal. I think it’s time for the church and its members to stop ignoring/rejecting this empowering and ennobling doctrine and give women the permission to find this talant and gift within themselves.

    Or we could just give women the priesthood. That would work too.

  9. Kris,
    Thanks for a wonderful post. I can relate to the women quoted because I had a somewhat similar experience

    A couple of years ago I accidently poisoned my 14 pound pug Penelope. I left the door open to my garage, and she got in and ate enough rat poison to kill a much larger dog. Luckily, I realized it right away, took her to the vet, got her stomach pumped, etc. The vets seemed to think she would make it, but I was agonized and heartsick. The dog I loved like a child had almost died because of me.

    I felt strongly that she should have a priesthood blessing. I know some of you might find that ridiculous, but it was incredibly important to me that we do everything in our power to save her. I asked my husband. He wasn’t comfortable with blessing an animal.

    I begged my husband. I cried. I was so disgusted with him refusing that I couldn’t even look at him. I was humiliated that I had to beg for this – especially when he knew how hard it is for me to ask for a priesthood blessing under any circumstance. I had never felt so powerless in my marriage before. He had something I didn’t – something that I knew would help her – and he was refusing to use it. And there was nothing I could do about it.

    Eventually, he reluctantly performed the blessing. I held her as he spoke. He was overcome with the Spirit and sobbed and told me later that he now knew it had been the right thing to do.

    So my story ended happily. But only because he eventually gave in. Having experienced the feeling of terror and helplessness with my dog ill, I can only imagine what it would be like with a child.

    This experience made me believe it is wrong to concentrate that kind of power within only one partner of the marriage. In my ideal world, both women and men would share their priesthood and bless and annoint jointly. (But if one wasn’t willing, then the other could step in and do it.) However, I would be happy with smaller steps. If it was acknowledged that wives shared with husbands equal decision making power on when to bless, then I’d be more comfortable. Or, if it were acknowledged that healing by faith and by the gift of healing were just as powerful as a priesthood blessing, then that would be ok as well.

    As it stands now, perhaps I do have the gift to heal. But I wouldn’t know it since it’s such a cultural faux-pas to even entertain the idea that a woman can heal. I think it’s time for the church and its members to stop ignoring/rejecting this empowering and ennobling doctrine and give women the permission to find this talant and gift within themselves.

    Or we could just give women the priesthood. That would work too.

  10. I spent some time thinking about this post last night and then asked my husband his thoughts. He said that he would give a blessing if asked. It is interesting to think of calling in the home teachers. Would they say no? I don’t think they would decide if it was too soon, baby not sick enough, etc. My husband has given blessings to many out of our family, sometimes not knowing why, except that comfort or healing is needed. He doesn’t question why. We both feel that I may have the spirit tell me a blessing is needed as well as him. I know the spirit speaks to us at different times in other areas of family and life, why not on this occasion? Sometimes a blessing is his idea, sometimes we both think of it, and sometimes I suggest it. I’m grateful he respects my concerns and feelings in this area.

  11. Kris,
    Thanks for a wonderful post. I can relate to the women quoted because I had a somewhat similar experience

    A couple of years ago I accidently poisoned my 14 pound pug Penelope. I left the door open to my garage, and she got in and ate enough rat poison to kill a much larger dog. Luckily, I realized it right away, took her to the vet, got her stomach pumped, etc. The vets seemed to think she would make it, but I was agonized and heartsick. The dog I loved like a child had almost died because of me.

    I felt strongly that she should have a priesthood blessing. I know some of you might find that ridiculous, but it was incredibly important to me that we do everything in our power to save her. I asked my husband. He wasn’t comfortable with blessing an animal.

    I begged my husband. I cried. I was so disgusted with him refusing that I couldn’t even look at him. I was humiliated that I had to beg for this – especially when he knew how hard it is for me to ask for a priesthood blessing under any circumstance. I had never felt so powerless in my marriage before. He had something I didn’t – something that I knew would help her – and he was refusing to use it. And there was nothing I could do about it.

    Eventually, he reluctantly performed the blessing. I held her as he spoke. He was overcome with the Spirit and sobbed and told me later that he now knew it had been the right thing to do.

    So my story ended happily. But only because he eventually gave in. Having experienced the feeling of terror and helplessness with my dog ill, I can only imagine what it would be like with a child.

    This experience made me believe it is wrong to concentrate that kind of power within only one partner of the marriage. In my ideal world, both women and men would share their priesthood and bless and annoint jointly. (But if one wasn’t willing, then the other could step in and do it.) However, I would be happy with smaller steps. If it was acknowledged that wives shared with husbands equal decision making power on when to bless, then I’d be more comfortable. Or, if it were acknowledged that healing by faith and by the gift of healing were just as powerful as a priesthood blessing, then that would be ok as well.

    As it stands now, perhaps I do have the gift to heal. But I wouldn’t know it since it’s such a cultural faux-pas to even entertain the idea that a woman can heal. I think it’s time for the church and its members to stop ignoring/rejecting this empowering and ennobling doctrine and give women the permission to find this talant and gift within themselves.

    Or we could just give women the priesthood. That would work too.

  12. Kris, I agree with you on the merits of the man’s decision. Personally, I don’t think it’s true that there’s some ‘seriousness threshold’ that must be crossed before the Priesthood should be used. So we agree there– in his place, I probably would have given a Priesthood blessing (although I certainly don’t know all the circumstances). But again, I just think it goes way too far to even raise the notion of unrighteous dominion (see prior post).

    Further, you ask why the gift of healing shouldn’t be practiced in the same way as it has in the past. First of all, I don’t know. But second of all, why does it matter? Is it just a feeling of being official or participating in a real ritual that makes us feel the need to lay hands on one’s head? Yes, that’s how it’s done in a Priesthood blessing. Why must it be the same in other ministrations? Why do you believe that a woman laying her hands on one’s head will be more powerful than her heartfelt prayer, if she has the gift? I don’t understand a reason for it. Merely citing past practice doesn’t seem to say much. The fact is that in the last fifty years, we have little evidence that any church leader has endorsed this, it has generally fallen out of practice in the mainstream of the church, and we don’t seem to have lost anything (assuming women can still heal by other means). Thus, I do think there’s more of a hurdle for you to overcome than just saying that women once practiced their gift of healing by laying on of hands, so it should be fine now. What is gained?

  13. Steve, you assert that the idea that a husband who decides not to give a child a blessing even when urged to do so commits unrighteous dominion is “in accord with the teachings of the church.” I am totally unaware of any such teachings, but will listen if you’ll be more specific.

    We may need a consensus-definition of unrighteous dominion. To me it’s the behavior in which a Priesthood-holding man seeks to exert authority over those in his stewardship by means of compulsion or threat or some other method that limits the person’s agency over the subset of decisions that are her own to make (or over which she should have some say). The choice to give a Priesthood blessing, while it should certainly be collaborative, ultimately belongs to the man. I have no idea why, and I don’t understand all the implications of the set up, but it is what it is. My pregnancy analogy is meant to illustrate only this point: it’s never any kind of dominion to withhold a resource that its yours alone. It may be some other kind of sin (as you suggest, it’s probably wrong to refuse a blessing when the Spirit prompts you to give it), but I have no idea how it’s unrighteous dominion.

    Further, I think everyone loses when we broaden the definition of unrighteous dominion. In cases where it really exists, it’s such a huge problem that we need to take it very seriously. It would be sad if we stretch it to any bad act of a Priesthood holder, so that people eventually stop taking it seriously when someone brings it up.

    Maybe I just have a different definition than everyone else?

    J., I don’t have a problem with some of your anecdotes of past practices. I’m not going to get into the fight about why they are no longer explicitly endorsed. My only point on the gift of healing in women is this: The assertion that women may have the gift of healing (which I take as true) does not necessitate any conclusion about women and the Priesthood. If I accept that assertion, I can’t think of anything regarding womens’ relationship with the Priesthood that necessarily follows. That’s all. And yes, as Kris points out, she has not asserted that something must follow. I’m merely dealing with some possible implications of her post.

  14. Constrained by the current teachings of the church. Big difference there.

    In all honesty, I would be interested in any references to such teachings.

  15. What a great post. I’ve commented on this same situation a couple of other times in previous posts. As a mom who is married to a non-member and who doesn’t have the benefit of having grown up with any priesthood holders in her family at all, the idea of the priesthood is mysterious and foreign to me on almost every level. However, I was always taught that the power of the priesthood is the very power by which Heavenly Father works – from the creation on down. I try to “tap” into that power when my own kids are sick – without being blasphemous or irreverent. But I call on my Heavenly Father’s Priesthood power to act through me and bless my children since no priesthood is available. I hope I’m not doing wrong by doing this, but Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers. Am I calling on God’s own priesthood powers and temporarily acting as his instrument, or am I just asking for a blessing through prayer? Ultimately, what’s the difference? Is there a definitive answer? I admit, I am supremely ignorant when it comes to this subject.

    And I STILL don’t get why a mom can’t put her hands on her baby during a blessing if she can put her hands on the baby’s head for a healing (ref: Doctrines of Salvation quote above).

  16. Some responses:

    I think that in discussing this with my husband we both have come to understand each other better, including the point that Don raises about the “weight” of priesthood, but at the same time I wonder if we could ever really trivialize God’s power by frequently calling upon it. There are not too many prophets who have told us to pray and exercise our faith less. If you look at Alma 34: 17-27, it would seem that we are exhorted to pray over the many minute aspects of our lives, including “our own welfare and also for the welfare of those who are around [us]“. And while I have sympathy for not wanting to appear lacking in faith or spiritual power in front of our family members, ultimately I think we are doing them a disservice by not admitting our own fears or weaknesses. In the end, we may need to call in the home teachers and be a little less proud.

    Ryan, I’m not making a connection between the female gift of healing and the Priesthood — what I’m saying is that the gift of healing is a spiritual gift available to all people and that this has traditionally involved the laying on of hands. Women have done it in this dispensation. In April of 1896, Apostle Franklin D. Richards reaffirmed the independent source of women’s authority to perform healing rituals. As an apostle and Church Historian, he instructed LDS women that they have “the right” to say these words in administering to the sick: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Anointing which I have received” … (this quote may strengthen J. Stapley’s position in his other post), but as you can see, no priesthood is invoked. Also, you are correct that I did not say that refusal to use priesthood power is unrighteous dominion. However, I had a distinct impression in regards to a child whom it is my primary responsibility to nurture. It was not a whim and that is the complicating factor. In your example of the man urging his wife to have another child, has he had a revelation? Has she? Who trumps who? How can we be equal partners then?

    Jonathan Green — As I said, I didn’t call the home teachers — instead I worried and prayed the whole night. But why shouldn’t I if I have received a distinct impression that the child should receive a blessing? What if a husband feels or is unworthy or doesn’t feel like having a draining experience — should the baby be denied a blesssing? Or should a wife be submissive to her husband in this situation? As far as saying I did not fault my husband, I wanted to be clear that I was not criticzing him or defining his actions as harmful or unkindly motivated. I’m sorry if this was “sinfully unclear.”

  17. Jonathan Green says:

    J.: Not “culturally constrained.” Constrained by the current teachings of the church. Big difference there.

    Kris wrote: “Looking back, I do not fault my young husband, for unrighteous dominion.” For a fine writer, this is a sinfully unclear statement that is amenable to Ryan’s interpretation, as well as others. It rattled my cage the first time I read it. Kris, what did you mean by it?

    The practice of the church right now is to make priesthood blessings an inalienable responsibility of the husband. Like all the responsibilities that I and my wife have, we consult with each other and help each other carry out decisions, but one or the other of us has the last word. The responsibility for priesthood blessings, one of the most central and most sacred responsibilities of a husband in a temple marriage, is mine. I didn’t choose for it to be that way.

    When our kids are sick, my wife makes the call on giving them medicine or taking them to the doctor. Personally, I’d give them something a bit sooner than she does, but I follow her decision. She suggests priesthood blessings sooner than I think is warranted, and maybe I shouldn’t be so reluctant. Then again–for me, giving a priesthood blessing is not the spiritual equivalent of infant advil. It’s a difficult, draining experience, and also one of the most intimate experiences I have with another person. So a kid has to be pretty sick to overcome my hesitation to have a difficult, draining experience.

    Also, about “I considered calling our home teachers”: I dearly hope you didn’t. Personally, in my marriage, I would find it much more distressing than “Honey, I really don’t think you’re earning enough money, so I joined the National Guard to bring in a little extra,” actually more in the neighborhood of “Honey, I don’t trust the quality of your sperm, so I called the home teachers over to help conceive our next child.”

  18. Like Steve, I have to take exception to your analysis of the post, Ryan. So, for almost 100 years, women were instructed to annoint the sick, lay their hands on them and pronounce blessings of healing. How would you describe the situation in which a women feels inspired to minister as those before her have done, yet feels culturally constrained to not do so. Further, her husband will not act in the moment of need?

  19. Steve Evans says:

    Ryan, I have no problem with the concept that a priesthood holder that withholds blessings or fails to use that priesthood could be guilty of unrighteous dominion. That’s far from unfair, it’s completely in accord with the teachings of the church. I agree, however, that it is up to the priesthood holder to perform the ordinances/blessings as he feels inspired. But to the extent he declines to follow the spirit — and so deprives his family of blessings — he sins and could be nivolved in unrighteous dominion. Your characterization of Kris’ implications (completely unfair, inaccurate, sad) are off.

    Your analogy is really pretty far off, though, and completely unfair in its own right — can’t you come up with a better one?

  20. Kris, you make some good points. But I’m uncomfortable with some of the implications of these thoughts.

    The anecdote about the little girl aiding in the healing of her father is exactly right. There is no question that women are eligible for the gift of healing. My mother, through revelation and faith, spearheaded the healing of a brother of mine from a very severe sickness. The ultimate blessing was voiced by my dad, but the work, the fasting, the struggling and the obtaining of promises from heavenly Father were led by my mom. I believe she has the gift.

    But the next step that some take is more difficult– that is, why must some make the connection between a female gift of healing and the Priesthood? I’m not sure you did this in your post, although my impression is that you hinted at it. Your logic shows that women can have the gift of healing, but that falls short of saying they need the Priesthood to do it. Healing can be done without the Priesthood present, by someone with that gift, man or woman. The power that does the healing is the Priesthood, but only in the sense that it is God’s power.

    The second thing that makes me uncomfortable is the implication (though again, you stop short of expressly alleging it) that a refusal to use the Priesthood could be construed as unrighteous dominion. That is a very, very strong statement, and I think it’s completely unfair and in the vast majority of cases inaccurate. While the husband’s possession of Priesthood power is there to bless the family, it is not a family resource that belongs to the family, to be used by majority vote. Neither does it belong to the husband, but he is accountable for its use, and so must be the one that decides when it should be used. While the situation of wanting a blessing for your child is stressful and hard, I think it unwise to press a Priesthood holder to administer when he is unwilling to do so. Again, that person is accountable for the use of the power, and so he shouldn’t be compelled to use it when he feels it would be wrong to do so. It’s really sad to see the specter of unrighteous dominion raised in this context. The (imperfect) analogy is a man who urges his wife to get pregnant one more time, although she doesn’t want to. What sin has she committed?

  21. Yes Kris, thank you. I know I am sometimes hesitant to ask my husband for blessings because as a convert he has perhaps a degree more awe of the priesthood and uncertainly about his worthiness to use it than might your average BIC, and I don’t want to push him into that kind of discomfort unless I think I really *have* to. That being said, when I do ask him, he is always willing to do it, and his overcoming his own self-doubts always makes the experience more meaningful for both of us. I think these kinds of tensions are exactly wherein the delicacy and strength of the idea (and actuality) of “our” priesthood lies.

  22. I found this to be a very moving post, Kris. Thank you.

  23. Excellent points. My blog on faith and the priesthood brought somewhat similar questions to my mind.

    Women should be able to use their faith to heal, that’s one of the things faith is for.

    In defense of husbands, if I were really honest I can answer why this husband did’t give blessings as quickly as I should have or when asked by my wife. I didn’t want to fail in front of my wife and kids. What happens if my faith wasn’t strong enough? I Rationalize by saying that colds etc are just a natural part of earth life, we aren’t supposed to get rid of all these little adversities. Sure the big things, call in the Priesthood, but let’s not trivialize it by using the priesthood for every day little matters…..but that’s me speaking.

  24. Excellent post Kris. Rather than put up a long responding comment here I wrote a responding post at the Thang.

  25. Very nice essay.

    I think it would take a brave wife to actively confront her husband about the propriety of administering a blessing. Perhaps this illustrates the importance of both partners in a marriage being truly stripped of pride in their interactions with each other AND the husband’s obligation to be sure that his wife understands that he considers his priesthood part of the marital relationship.

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