A Gift Taken or Abandoned?

In discussing women and healing in the early church, one of the most commonly asked questions seems to be, “How could this have happened? Why did things change?” The most current podcast over at Mormon Stories offers a reason that I am not that familiar with. Linda King Newell’s “A Gift Given, A Gift Taken” is certainly one of the seminal pieces on women’s participation in LDS ritual healing, but it is the reply to her presentation that caught my attention.

In response to the paper, D. Michael Quinn states,

Like the timid woman who wrote the LDS Relief Society General President in 1938 to ask “is it orthodox and sanctioned by the Church” to exercise the gift of healing, LDS women generally have lost that gift because they have demanded the approval of a Church hierarchy to exercise something the hierarchy did not and could not give them or take away from them. In Mormon theology, faith and healing are gifts of God, not of the Church, and certainly not of a changeable administrative policy.

According to the rigors of Mormon theology, LDS women have no need to resent the Church hierarchy for denying the exercise of gifts which the Book of Mormon said “never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.” If Mormon women have lost the gift of healing, they have abandoned it through fearfulness, ignorance, or faithlessness; it has not been taken away. (1) emphasis mine

Ouch! Upon further reading, I discovered that laying the blame for the curtailed role of women in the Church at their own feet is not particularly new. Susa Young Gates also held women, specifically one particular woman, responsible for this their more limited participation:

We read that splendid revelation given through a prophet to a woman, recorded in the twenty-fifth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This revelation was given only three months after the Church was organized; we read there that a woman was an elect lady, called of God! Nor was she to murmur because of the things she had not seen. And did she murmur? For it was wise that she should not see them. Why, she must not see, we vainly ask of our own willful, womanly hearts. But this woman was to be a comfort to her husband; and she was, yes, she was a comfort for many years thereafter.

And she was to be a scribe to her prophet-husband. There was only one prophet, and not even giftd, ambitious Oliver Cowdery could usurp his place. And this woman, the prophet’s wife, was permitted to be a scribe, a counselor, and a comfort to that youthful struggling leader. Ah, that she had always remained true to her calling and election! And further, she was to be ordained to expound the scripture. Not only set apart, but ordained! And if then, why not now? If you ask, you must find your answer in the history of this chosen and elect lady. Who could say that it was a woman’s act which closed the gates of paradise a second time upon women? (2) emphasis mine.

I am struck by the accusatory suggestion that Emma is a second “Eve” – that Gates invokes the imagery of Eden (minus the noble choice paradigm). It is also valuable to consider what Susa Young Gates perceives the second paradise to be.

Reproaching women for the loss of the exercise of some of their spiritual gifts just doesn’t sit well with me. In fact, it makes me sad. The answer to the question, “Why did things change?” doesn’t seem to come quite so easily or conveniently packaged, even in words like “taken” or “abandoned”. For those who do wonder about what happened and struggle to know what to do with their spiritual gifts that are now prescribed, Kathleen Flake makes some poignant observations and illustrates an uncomfortable quandary that is raised by these issues:

My great grandmother left a journal of everyday life in a Mormon town on the Arizona Frontier, where she served in a Relief Society presidency. In the same tone as we today speak of visiting teaching very matter-of-factly and with confidence that it is our responsibility and gift she writes of her many visits to heal the sick by the laying on of hands. More intriguingly, she records without fanfare the blessings of comfort and promise, again by the laying of hands, which she received from and gave to the other members of her presidency when the weight of their responsibilities became heavy to bear. One hundred years later as I serve on another Mormon frontier, the inner city, I am vaguely aware that I am imitating social norms when I limit my ministrations to praying for, presiding over, advising, and exhorting others. I can sometimes even admit to myself that I imitate the norm at the expense of what I know to be the responsibilities and gifts given to me by God. Yet, I rationalize my choice in terms of what others are doing and what they would do to me if I acted differently. Also, I confess to you that I don’t even consider it possible to do what my grandmother actually did so routinely. Hers were opportunities unknown to me and so I have trouble seeking them. Besides, everybody tells me I am doing such a great job.

What will I say when Grandmother asks me how this could have happened? Will I get away with saying, “It was what was expected of me and, besides, I didn’t know that alternatives existed”? Doubtful. The harder question, I imagine, will come when God asks me why I cared so little for these gifts or why I was so vain as to think I could “save souls” without them.(3)

(1) D. Michael Quinn, “Response: A Gift Given: A Gift Taken” Sunstone Magazine, Issue No: 29, September-October 1981 p.26.

(2) Susa Young Gates, “The Open Door For Women, Opened the 17th of March 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith” Young Woman’s Journal, March 1905, Volume 16, Issue 3, p. 116-117.

(3) Kathleen Flake, “Beholding As in a Glass the Glory”, Sunstone Magazine Issue No: 81, April 1991, p.14-20.

Comments

  1. Kris, this is an important post. I find Kathleen’s comments quite moving.

    I think that while it is easy to categorically state causes for trends in ritual praxis, as you say, it is much more complicated. I’m sure there were some that gave up the gifts and I am sure there were those that sought to limit or take them away…but there were a lot of things happening and forces exerting.

    I had a chance to talk to Dave Hall last week about his forthcoming bio of Amy Lyman. I’m really looking forward to it. One thing that he emphasizes is the generational shift, which I think has been overlooked in ritual schema.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Kris, can those spiritual gifts truly be taken away or restrained by anything here on earth? God gives power as He will, and nothing we do can prevent a woman or a man from performing righteousness.

  3. Fascinating.

  4. Kris, I was just finding out about this just in the last month or so, and so I’ve been wondering this question, too. Thanks for the links, I’ll have to check them out. Is there any other literature that you could point me to?

    Once again, thanks!

  5. I think even if men didn’t take away women’s gifts originally, they’re still standing in women’s way of reclaiming the gifts, so this idea doesn’t really exculpate men for their sexism.

  6. Steve, #2 – Nothing can prevent them except for their own fear.

  7. Gene England used to have his wife, Charlotte, participate with him in giving blessings. This worked when they were outside of Utah. Later, in the more structured church, Charlotte expressed a concern that others might find her participation a distraction. (I’m telling this from memory and hope I don’t get anything wrong.) She decided to not participate anymore, lest someone else’s faith be tried.

    We have created an environment where the very act of a woman’s placing her hands on another’s head to give a blessing is seen by some as heretical or presumptuous at the very least. I’m not sure how we’ll get past that.

  8. Jacob M: check out Newel’s essay in the same Sunstone as Quinn’s response as well as “Gifts of the Spirit: Women’s Share” in Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective. Also Women as Healers in the Modern Church by Betina Lindsey in Women and Authority.

    Finally, this guy has had quite a few posts on women and healing, some of which can also be found here

  9. Seems to me that there was an excellent presentation at MHA this spring on Female ritual healing compared to another ritual. It is available at sunstone for download ($4), but I have heard that it is very important and well done.

  10. Julie M. Smith says:

    “forthcoming bio of Amy Lyman”

    /swoons

    Keep us posted, OK?

  11. Some people find it easier then others to engage in shameless self-promotion :)

  12. Stapley,
    I hope none of that $4 goes to Sunstone. They’re evil.

  13. John Mansfield says:

    Connected with this would be the insistence that all elders have the gift of healing, any one as amply as any other, and so a saint has no business calling on any but his own home teachers for such a blessing.

  14. John–interesting idea. Interesting to me because I just barely dealt with it. A man in our stake called my good husband requesting a blessing. Bruce asked why this man wouldn’t ask his home teachers, who had more direct stewardship. The man said, “You give such good blessings.” Finally, Bruce did give the blessing, but he felt that it was somehow out of order.

    In another instance, a good friend of mine was in great spiritual turmoil and happened to see a general authority in SLC. Feeling desperate and in great need of comfort, my friend approached the GA and asked (begged?) for a blessing. The GA said that the bishop was the one to be asked, not him.

    Regardless of handbook instructions, this event was huge in my friend’s life, who ultimately ceased activity in the Church. He felt that he had desperately needed comfort, and one who claimed to represent Christ had refused to offer it. Obviously, we don’t know what else was at play here–busy schedules, etc. But I have thought about this incident many times.

    Sorry for the possible threadjack. Back to women…

  15. Reproaching women for the loss of the exercise of some of their spiritual gifts just doesn’t sit well with me.

    I found the whole of this fascinating and a very profund and interesting question I have no answers for, but the above sentence seems odd to me.

    It seems more like what is lost is the method of expressing the exercise of a spiritual gift, rather than the exercise of a spiritual gift. Does that make sense?

  16. I’ve been thinking hard about this post, and I don’t really know what to make of it. Undoubtedly, Mormon women have not been privately taking up the mantle of healing blessing. Yet it is equally clear that they have not been taught to do so — that they have instead been instructed not to try.

    How does one weigh the importance of these two factors? The Susa Young Gates argument is clearly not persuasive. Rather, it’s generic Emma Hale Smith bashing. Surely she was not the only person of prominence in the early church to reject Brigham Young’s leadership. If her decisions close the door of her position to subsequent women, surely men should be barred from serving as councilors in the First Presidency, Stake Presidents, and so forth.

    Quinn’s remarks are less easily brushed aside. His comments reveal a perilous normative situation. Placing the responsibility for Mormon women’s failure to lay on hands for healing on the women can be a form of blaming the victim: these women have been explicitly taught to defer in such things to men, a teaching that certainly violates the scriptures but nonetheless comes with the authoritative imprimatur of the highest church leadership. Yet blaming church leadership denies the agency of individual Mormon women, who could certainly (and to some limited extent probably do) lay their hands on the sick and give powerful healing blessings without official authorization. Either account thus has normatively undesirable features.

    The sort of causal question — did Mormon women largely abandon their scriptural role in healing rituals because of their own personal weaknesses or because of the church hierarchy’s discouragement — is messy and underdetermined. Certainly Mormons have not always obeyed the church hierarchy; equally certainly not all Mormon women are “fearful, ignoran[t], or faithless.” So there are anomalies for both hypotheses, and I find it truly difficult to choose between them.

  17. Margaret, I think that there are all types. At one point (about 10 years ago) my father was close to a general authority. When a member of my family faced a prolonged medical issue, this GA suggested that my family member come by for a blessing. When my father had stated that there had been several blessing given already, the GA responded, “I have a special gift to heal,” and told him to have them stop by.

    Back in the 19th century, healing was a community endeavor. One might have several blessings within an hour, let alone over days, weeks and years. Each one grasping for sufficient faith or power.

  18. Kris – this is one of my most favourite topics and one I question about the most. Wonderful post.

    How can we claim back these gifts without being perceived as a heretic?

  19. So, was the member of your family healed?
    Are there people we recognize as having the gift of healing? We know that the specific gift exists. I have seen my husband give a healing blessing and witnessed the healing happen instantly, and I have seen my co-author do the same thing. Interesting thing with my co-author. He is hesitant to ask for blessings–and he can’t bless himself. He has cancer, suffers terribly with it, but hesitates to impose on anyone. Of course, my husband has blessed him. But I wonder how many others have the gift to heal but will not be asked to use their gift? I wonder if people can be given inspiration to request a particular person give them a blessing. And what if that person they were inspired to request was a woman?

  20. Margaret, I don’t think I know the answers to your questions, but it made me think of healing account which I recently read (~1870):

    There was at a certain time a man in our ward, (a good man too,) who from some cause became deranged. His family feared him, he had to be confined away from home, with men to watch him by night and day. He would not allow the Elders to lay hands on him. A council was called, it was resolved that the whole body of the church should fast and pray untill the evil spirit would depart out of the man. Accordingly we assembled. Great sympathy was felt for the poor brother and his family. Many fervent prayers were offered up. At the close of the meeting the Elders repaired to the room where the insane man lay bound; he was humble, did not resist their laying hands upon him. They commanded the evil spirit to depart; and lo; it was gone!

    The man “was clothed and in his right mind.” He was conscious that an evil spirit had troubled him. Three years after I asked him if he felt the influence of that spirit about him? He replied he did not; that his mind was calm. He had however an attack sometime after: was taken to prison and confined. After intercessions were made in his behalf he became a little calm; when inquiry was made of him whether he would permit the Elders to lay hands upon him he replied in the affirmative, but asked the privilege of choosing such persons as he had faith in. He chose three Elders and one aged sister, known for her exceeding faith in administering in alarming cases. They repaired to the prison where the poor maniac lay in chains! At first he trembled and struggled to resist them; but when the foul spirit was commanded in the name of Jesus Christ to depart, and [pg. 345] go to his own place, it obeyed the summons; and the man was led home to his family; who received him with joy, in that he was himself and not another.

    S. George Ellsworth, The History of Louisa Barnes Pratt: Mormon Missionary Widow and Pioneer (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1998), 345-346.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    When I was a boy I got sick once and my father wanted to give me a blessing. He was kind of an old-time Mormon (from southern Idaho, very deep roots in the Church), and he wanted my mother to anoint me. She resisted, thinking that she was not allowed to. As I recall, my dad kind of browbeat her into it, telling her that of course she was allowed to. (Old-timers could point to Widtsoe’s Priesthood and Church Government on this point.)

    I remember at the time feeling bad that my father had kind of pushed my mother into doing something she didn’t feel comfortable doing. On the other hand, he had absolute confidence that it was appropriate for her to do the anointing, which shows a bit of a connection to an older age in the Church.

  22. I have a question….

    Growing up my Dad would give us the occassional blessing. My Mom would commonly also lay her hands on us when my Dad would give us the blessing. This was in the 1980’s and I saw it later as a married adult with my parents in the last 5-10 years as well. My parents always told us that this practice was passed down in my Dads family since pioneer days. My Dad also claims that he had a bishop in Rexburg in the 1960’s who openly encouraged these types of blessings.

    Has anybody else exp. this or heard stories like this of such recent vintage?

  23. With regard to D. Michael Quinn’s comments: I wonder how the sisters of the Church would react if temple policy changed to having male temple workers perform the initiatory ordnance for female patrons. (I hope this isn’t enough temple discussion to get my post deleted.) I suspect that most would simply accept the change, a very small minority would grumble in private or on the bloggernacle, and an even smaller minority would complain vocally.

    I actually recall an angry post from a sister on this topic after the recent modifications to the initiatory; she was afraid that this very thing was about to happen. I hope it doesn’t, because even though I’m a male, the idea that women participate in something more approaching gender-equal fellowship in the temple than in regular Church venues is very important to my testimony of the temple.

  24. #22 BBell,
    My MIL in at least the 1970’s. She is as orthodox as they come.

  25. Bro. Jones – I don’t know how general membership would feel, I wouldn’t like it. I’ve always loved having other women perform initiatory.

  26. Steve Evans says:

    I don’t think a solely male-performed initiatory is anywhere near to being considered, recent modifications notwithstanding. Others in the COB may correct me, but the ordinances do not lend themselves to such a change.

  27. Christopher Bradford (Grasshopper) says:

    Margaret Young said:

    We have created an environment where the very act of a woman’s placing her hands on another’s head to give a blessing is seen by some as heretical or presumptuous at the very least. I’m not sure how we’ll get past that.

    We need to encourage more accounts like bbell’s. Women can participate in blessing their own children. And while they shouldn’t be “browbeat” into doing something they are uncomfortable with, they might be gently persuaded. The more children grow up with their mothers blessing them, the less uncomfortable people will be with women administering in blessings.

  28. Why does it seem that so many people equate being “equal” with being “identical”? Why is it that it feels like some would demand that the “body” of the Church have 11 million heads or 11 million feet rather than allowing all of us to be a part of the “body” that reflects our own unique and beautiful purpose? If some women feel slighted about not having this or that, they are entitled to their feelings. But I wish they would stop trying to speak for ME or in my behalf.

    Spiritual gifts are not gender inclusive (or exclusive) and having the “gift of healing” is not promised to all members just as the gift of tongues isn’t, or discernment etc. It is an official function of the priesthood (and those who hold it) to administer with oil, but I also know that in an emergency I could lay my hands on my children and petition the Lord to honor my request in their behalf just as well. I have no problem honoring the divine authority of God through His sons, and I do not feel that it makes me inferior in any way NOT to hold that office. I have my own gifts and my own talents that many MEN do not have and I don’t view them as inferior because they don’t have what I do.

    I think the sad thing is that rather than identifying their own gifts and magnifying them to the glory of God, some people spend their lives “coveting” the things they would rather have or blaming someone else for their lack thereof. I can only imagine how it makes our creator feel when we second guess His purposes, His wisdom, or His ability to run His Church properly.

  29. abish, have you read any of the history on this topic?

  30. abish, I’d love it if you could show me the scripture that says that healing is a gift of men, rather than a non-gendered gift of all believers.

  31. #15 It only makes sense to a degree because here form (method as you say) is substance.

    I’ll be teaching women of the church in RS in October and this post brings to mind a possible ramification of the loss of women’s blessings. Perhaps if we were once again blessing one another there would be less petty competition, gossip, low-level judgment, etc. between women. I wonder if the sense of sisterhood was greater when women were giving blessings.

  32. J. Nelson-Seawright-
    I didn’t say that healing is a “gift of men” only, and started the second paragraph with “gifts of the spirit are not gender inclusive/exclusive…” I then said that all gifts are NOT promised to all believers. Unless you can you show me a scripture that says that every believer has the same gifts, I view them as saying that while some might share the same gift(s)not everyone DOES.

    Every worthy priesthood holder can anoint and bless, but that doesn’t mean that they all have the “gift of healing”, conversely some women will have the gift and some won’t. I also said that in the absence of a priesthood holder I know I can lay my hands on my children and petition the Lord in their behalf just as well.

    J. Stapley-
    I’ve read some but it isn’t my particular interest etc. I have no problem accepting that women in the early church had the gift and practiced it, and I don’t have a problem accepting that women in the Church now do either.

    My problem lies with the idea that ALL women (or all men for that matter) must hold/practice/exercise the same offices or gifts to be defined as equals in this life or the next. Such an idea results in:
    *the false notion that the actions of one person(or even of a few)would/could result in a mass revocation of such a blessing/gift-thus punishing all for the mistakes of one.
    *the false notion that unrighteous Church leaders (male)were capable of taking away such a gift or are still standing in the way of “reclaiming” it.

    I don’t believe that God works that way or that He allows those in authority to lead the Church astray.

  33. In my home, mother’s blessings are given about as often as father’s blessings (for events like start of a new school year), and both spouses (spice?) participate in blessings for the sick by laying their hands on the head of the child, though usually (not always), it’s the father that is the voice.

  34. Steve Evans says:

    Abish, you’re jumping at shadows. Nobody here has advanced the idea that “ALL women (or all men for that matter) must hold/practice/exercise the same offices or gifts to be defined as equals in this life or the next.” You don’t have to misconstrue our history (and present doctrine) in order to attack an idea that hasn’t been advanced.

  35. I agree with JNS’s response above, but I think there is some precedent for DMQ’s words. Joseph Smith taught that spiritual gifts could be lost or given to another if those to whom they were given failed to exercise them.

  36. As I read this blog and the comments I wondered at them. Some basic doctrines seemed to be missing.

    The source of the gifts of the spirit that come to men and women is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is available to us as we make and keep covenants. Think through the covenants? Do any of them relate to following the prophets?

    Can men and woman exercise faith and the gift to heal without the laying on hands?

    If the prophets feel it is necessary to change some aspects of things done in former days to meet objectives needed for today, is that their right?

  37. Steve,

    You’re right that no one advanced that idea and I apologize for appearing to. I should have qualified my frustration first and did not, hoping that by saying “it seems” or “feels” this way that this was my opinion or view rather than fact. If my remarks felt like an attack, please forgive me.

    My frustration comes from the perspective that this is a “women’s issue” and that because there appears to be a lack of such things happening in the public eye today it must be viewed as a gift taken away (due to the wickedness of women)by God or because of the unrighteous dominion of male leaders of the Church.(two ideas that were advanced)

    It may not be a thriving practice today, OR as Sister Flake’s great-great grandmother’s journal indicates, it may be happening daily without any fanfare or publication simply because it doesn’t require it.

    I second your first question Steve, (and the inference) that nothing on earth can restrain something the Lord sees fit to establish for righteousness.

  38. Steve Evans says:

    Jared, I wish there were a doctrine against pedantic pseudo-questions.

  39. Do you, Steve? Do you?

  40. Steve 38,

    I’m new here. It may be that you’re a big man on campus. Is it your style to think clearly or do you prefer some other way to make your point. By the way, what is your point?

    Have you removed all of Alma 5 or just selected verses?

  41. Isn’t it pedantic to use the word pedantic?

    And Jared’s questions actually ended in question marks and everything….:-P

    In fact, one of his questions gave me pause…about how often women (and men) lay hands on another in the act of healing. Stroking a fevered brow or applying a wet cloth, rubbing on sunburn cream, massaging stiffness etc. Some people are said to have a natural “gift” in matters of medicine and first aid…can’t this be viewed as the “gift of healing”?

    In pioneer times, there were no emergency rooms, Insta-care, physicians every 5 miles, nor did they have cars and antibiotics and pharmacies readily handy. Often the men were out in the fields or gone on missions and women were the only ones available to fill the need for medical attention and healing. Doctrines change as times change…why do we have to look at this issue as anything more than the natural adaptation that comes with the growth of the kingdom?

  42. Steve Evans says:

    Jared, I think it is definitely my style to think clearly. That said, I will also resort to snark and criticism if clear thinking is unavailable.

    My point is that your comments are meaningless questions that seem to have some unstated motive of trying to accuse others of being apostate or ignorant of the gospel. Additionally, my point is that you seem to have little understanding of Church history or even current policy on this topic. Finally, my point is that it is unlikely that you have thought through your own rhetorical questions to any degree. Permit me to answer them:

    1. Do any of them [covenants] relate to following the prophets?

    A: No.

    2. Can men and woman exercise [A] faith and [B] the gift to heal without the laying on hands?

    A. To the first part yes. To the second part, inasmuch as one can heal another without physically touching, also yes.

    3. If the prophets feel it is necessary to change some aspects of things done in former days to meet objectives needed for today, is that their right?

    No. The prophets do not have the right to do whatever they feel is necessary. They solely have the right to do as the Spirit permits, in accordance with their mandate in as set forth in the scriptures.

    Finally, re: Alma 5 — another meaningless question. But let me ask you one of the verses: are ye stripped of pride? Cuz your comments aren’t. My version has no verse 30, though, I admit.

  43. abish, regarding the last part of your comment: People can offer up explanations all day. The reality is, however, that unless there is some data to back up the assertions, they are just making stuff up. I don’t mean to be rude, but it is just as easy to promote any of the assertions that you deemed false in previous comments.

    I’ve worked on these questions for a couple years now, and it is frustrating to me in either case when I hear idle speculations passed of as gospel history.

  44. J. Stapley

    Can you kindly please indicate exactly what I tried to pass off as gospel history?

    The idea that data always proves truth, or lack of data disproves truth is to promote a false assertion isn’t it?

    Is it gospel history that at one time LDS women across the board were given the power to heal by the laying on of hands and then had that power taken from them or am I just being frustrated by your speculations/assumptions?

  45. Steve, I like this post better than the prior post. More thinking than criticizing.

    I really do appreciate your thoughts. However, I would like to note one thing. You don’t have my heart figured out, how could you? I had no such intent as you allude to. Unless I missed the point of blogging all ideas are welcome and comments pro or con, or otherwise are welcome. If this assumption is incorrect please help me understand.

    I started visiting “LDS” blogs in recent months to gain understanding as well as to share understanding.

    I have one objective in the years I have left in mortality and that is to full fill all of my covenants the best I can so I can continue to experience the manifestations of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the spirit the Lord has given me. I’ve been working on it for 40 years since becoming active in the church and I have learned it is important to listen to the brethren.

    It hasn’t always been easy. I have had to fast and pray and bite my tongue on many occasions.

    Anyhow, it may be that you and I wouldn’t agree on many things but that is ok with me. I’m here to acquire understanding and share understanding and I prefer to communicate without employing attacks and trying to figure out others motives. Trying to figure out motives is like flipping a coin–it isn’t profitable or prophetiable.

  46. Steve,

    I mean no disrespect, but I’m stunned that you answered the question “Do any of them[covenants] relate to following the prophets?” with “No”.

    This blog is named after the practice of “common consent” and in the LDS Church, that practice…of raising one’s right hand to sustain the prophet and other general authorities IS a covenant. It is a covenant to sustain and follow the living prophet that has been appointed by God and it comes with obligations and promised blessings.

  47. If it was abandoned then all we have to do is take it back? That doesn’t feel right to me, exactly. I say this even though in my work as in every other realm I’m one who tends to ask forgiveness rather than permission.

    Raised eyebrows don’t deter me, but something else, some feeling that the proper authority is essential. Wilfried extended to a woman authority to bless the sacrament once. When I reach out my hand to do this, though, to give a blessing to the sick, the spirit stops me because I lack the proper authority. I believe we need to hear it from the prophet, that it is again good, and then we can recommence.

  48. Steve Evans says:

    Abish, I say lots of stunning things. But I do not equate raising my hand in sustaining as a covenant. Certainly it is not on par with, say, the temple covenants.

  49. abish (#4), I’m not sure that I understand. I don’t believe that I have, in this post, tried to explain the reasons for the change in any policies or practices. It is indeed true that at one time women were encouraged by the Church to employ various methods of ritual healing. That is now no longer the case. These statement are true, and I don’t think that anyone would argue against that. My comment (#43) was simply stating that your assertion in comment #41 about the reasons thing changed was simply speculation. When such speculations are offered as a means to obviate other ideas, it is frustrating to me. I’m frustrated by lots of things, though.

  50. I thought one of the later Joseph Smiths (F. or Fielding, and I can’t remember which) explicitly stated women were no longer supposed to give blessings–that the job was a specifically priesthood one unless, of course, the situation was most dire. Is that correct? I’ve felt the desire to participate in blessings in the past, but like you, Tatiana, I’ve felt like I lack the proper authority to do so.

  51. Steve,

    Then you have not read the words of the prophets nor the words of God that indicate that the Law of Common Consent is indeed a covenant. On par with the temple covenants? Are you saying that some covenants are dispensable while others are not? That baptism is a lesser covenant than the new and everlasting one?

    It doesn’t matter if you personally feel it is a covenant or not, it matters what God has declared it to be. And if you sustain His chosen prophet by covenant and then choose to break that covenant…do you suppose He honors your temple covenant?

    “When you vote affirmatively you make a solemn covenant with the Lord,” President Harold B. Lee taught (in Conference Report, April 1970, p. 103).

    Elder Loren C. Dunn spoke of the symbolism associated with this important concept. “When we sustain officers, we are given the opportunity of sustaining those whom the Lord has already called by revelation. . . . The Lord, then, gives us the opportunity to sustain the action of a divine calling and in effect express ourselves if for any reason we may feel otherwise. To sustain is to make the action binding on ourselves and to commit ourselves to support those people whom we have sustained. When aperson goes through the sacred act of raising his arm to the square, he should remember, with soberness, that which he has done and commence to act in harmony with his sustaining vote both in public and in private.” (In Conference Report, April 1972, p. 19.)

    Elder James E. Talmage:
    “Do you ever think of the inconsistency of raising your right hand in solemn witness before God that you will sustain certain men who have been called and ordained, in the manner appointed of God, as your leaders, as prophets unto the people, verily as revelators, and then, though perchance you come together and hear their words, going away and pay no attention to them?

    You cannot, we cannot, pass by lightly the words that come by way of counsel and instruction from the ordained servants of God, and escape the inevitable penalty of that neglect. Nevertheless, we have our agency; we may choose to disobey, but we must take the consequences of that choice.” (In Conference Report, October 1921, pp. 187-88.)

    President N. Eldon Tanner explained at a solemn assembly in 1974: “Everyone is perfectly free to vote as he wishes. There is no compulsion whatsoever in this voting. When you vote affirmatively, you make a solemn covenant with the Lord that you will sustain, that is, give your full loyalty and support, without equivocation or reservation, to the officer for whom you vote.”

    There is more but you can choose to believe what you wish to.

  52. #39 – gst strikes again!

  53. kristine, JFS II gets a bad rap on this. The last public thing he ever said on the matter was in the 1955 Improvement Era, where he outlined how women could lay on hands with men. His 1946 letter to the RS General board has been a whipping boy for decades, but the whole text of that letter hasn’t been available and the parts that I have seen more than has been published to date and it isn’t the “death knell” that some folks have said it is.

  54. J. Stapley,

    I have no quarrel with you over this issue at all. I’m merely saying that if you do not have any kind of data or proof as to WHY the “church no longer encourages this practice” then any OTHER conclusions (such as wickedness of women or leaders etc) are just speculations that are different than mine aren’t they? And aren’t you trying to obviate MY speculations with your own? No wonder you are frustrated :-)

  55. Steve Evans says:

    Wow, abish, good thing you had those quotes from the CES manual handy! Thanks for the condescending introductory sentences, btw. You almost sound like Alma! Fine, sustaining is a covenant.

    In terms of greater and lesser covenants, there is clearly an argument to be made that some are more important and serious than others. Hence we would refer to the greater and lesser priesthoods and the covenants appurtenant to each.

    I particularly liked this nasty little question: “And if you sustain His chosen prophet by covenant and then choose to break that covenant…do you suppose He honors your temple covenant?” That’s an excellent rhetorical style. Let me ask you: is your intention to correct me, or to scare me?

  56. Where might I find the text of the 1955 Improvement Era? I’m curious about this now. I’d only heard about the 1946 RS letter.

  57. It seems to me that there are two misunderstandings in the modern church regarding this. Either people think that healing can only be done by the priesthood (most common) or people believe that the gift of healing can be had by all but have no idea how it is manifest or used for women. Maybe we need more discussion of this in RS and Priesthood.

  58. abish–I’d agree that the church no longer encourages the practice, but that’s not really the point of the original post. Going back to the original post, is the lack of female authority to bless because the authority was removed or because women no longer exercise the authority? There’s a significant difference between those two options, the first implying God (or male leadership) of the church actively removed the authority to act from the hands of women, the second implying women allowed the authority to slip from them through neglect or an unwillingness to act.

  59. #48 – “Covenant” often is over-used in situations that are commitments or promises or manifestations of support. In the case of raising my hand to sustain a leader, that leader does not, in return, make any promise to me. My sustaining vote is a symbol of my willingness, not a reciprocal agreement with the person I am sustaining. If you stretch the meaning to include a vicarious or inferred promise of receiving blessings from the Lord, I think you have stretched it so far that “covenant” loses its unique power. Twisting it that hard makes “covenant” nothing more than “promise, with hope of reward” – which could include all kinds of immoral and illegal activities.

    I’m with Steve 100% on this one.

  60. Steve Evans says:

    Ray, high-five — although there is definitely some evidence that Abish is correct with her quotes. Even so, I am unsure, as you say, of the usefulness of categorizing every act we take in the Church as a covenant. It’s like labeling every mistake we make a sin — it loads up the act with extra severity and guilt that maybe is counterproductive.

  61. More thoughts…..

    1) It would be easy to say that everyone with the gift of healing should use it. The problem is, for the most part, people don’t know if they have the gift. It may come and go for some. That means that men and women should give many blessings and exercise faith and hope that they “take”.

    2) In the church’s history, how did women heal? Laying on of hands with a prayer? Did they invoke any authority?

  62. BTW, abish, only two of the quotes call it a covenant. The other two do not – and even seem to indicate it is not a covenant but rather a promise. There is a difference, and just because two people chose to use one word while others chose NOT to use that word doesn’t mean that the two who chose to use it were right and the other two were wrong.

    I won’t argue about this, because I also can’t stand the condescending and accusatory tone. I’m not into pissing contests, and that’s all this will be if it continues.

  63. Back to the original question: I have absolutely no problem with my wife laying her hands on our children and giving them a mother’s blessing – just as I have no problem whatsoever with a non-Mormon father or a prospective Elder laying his hands on his children and giving them a father’s blessing – as long as they do not invoke Priesthood authority. The mother and prospective Elder have covenanted to “take His name upon them” and they are representatives of Christ every bit as much as I – an ordained High Priest.

    The same goes for healing blessings. If someone has the gift of healing (and I know individuals who definitely do have that specific gift outside the Priesthood), I have no problem with them exercising that gift – as long as they do not invoke Priesthood power or authority. Frankly, I personally have no problem with a mother holding her baby while the Priesthood is used by men to bless that baby – as long as the wording is carefully stated to avoid even the mis-perception that “we” who are participating and invoking Priesthood authority does not include the mother.

    I would love to know if the current situation came about, like so many things do, as a corrective action – in this case because some women were crossing the line and participating in such a way that Priesthood authority was implied or stated openly. I know a number of women in a ward I once attended who were dangerously close to crossing that line a couple of times, so it wouldn’t surprise me – but I have no clue.

  64. Ray,
    You seem pretty adamant that women have no access to Priesthood authority. It’s not at all clear that Mormons have always understood things this way. There were Relief Societies organized in quorums of deaconesses and priestesses, there were women in Joseph’s governing quorum, Eliza R. Snow went around setting women apart in callings…And then there’s all that language in the temple still that suggests women have plenty of access to power and authority, if not to Priesthood office.

    In short, I don’t think your sharp distinction between Priesthood and non-Priesthood will hold.

  65. abish, I also happen to think the questions raised by this post are very important questions to ask. If the authority to anoint and bless the sick was taken away because we women were delinquent in exercising that authority then we should be diligently seeking for the gift to be restored to us, and I would suggest primarily because of the added blessings for others’ lives. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you’re one who believes the authority was removed by God. Even with that belief it’s a pertinent question to ask why the responsibility was given and then taken away–what were the circumstances that led to the extension of authority, and the subsequent removal of authority. Could a similar situation that led to the conference of authority reoccur? It behooves us to know what the situation was in order to watch for similar situations and act if appropriate.

    I have to say, the quotes Kris includes above cut me in a way that makes me feel this is a responsibility I am eschewing more than one that is denied to me by my gender. I know we’re taught to listen to (male) authority figures and look to them first, but I wonder if anointing the sick isn’t an instance where we shouldn’t be looking first to Father in Heaven and asking first how He wants us to serve our families, and worrying about the opinions of the human authority figures later.

  66. Kristine, I didn’t say that, and upon re-reading what I wrote, I didn’t even imply it. I happen to think the endowment bestows the Priesthood on women in a very real and powerful way. It can be exercised in the temple, and I believe that endowment magnifies the gifts each woman has received in a way that is impossible without it.

    What I’m saying is that women now, in this day and age, cannot exercise the Priesthood legitimately outside of the temple – like with blessings and anointings and baptisms and confirmations. I asked a question about timing and cause because “I have no clue” why it is different now than in the past. I simply have seen so many cases of restrictions being established due to abuse that I wonder if this is a similar case. Again, I have no clue.

  67. BTW, if Pres. Hinckley were to announce a revelation allowing women be ordained outside the temple and to exercise the Priesthood outside the temple, I would have no problem whatsoever with that announcement. Until and unless that happens, I support the exercise only in the temple.

  68. Thanks for the intriguing post, Kristine.

    I think the seeds of this development may have been sown in the late 1830s and 1840s, a topic I’m trying to work my way through in a broader treatment of heresy and the Christian evidences. There are several editorials in church organs from the period that begin to worry about the centrifugal effects of the charismata. The distinctions by biological sex did not come to the fore then, but the possibility that someone might use the charismata to distract believers from the authorized voice of the hierarchy was very real.

    I’m not sure I know how best to respond in our current situation, but I think an intellectual and spiritual treatment of the history of the merger of priesthood and charismata should take this into consideration.

    I’m very sympathetic to the desire to reclaim the charismata (at least healing, anyway, glossolalia still freaks me out)–I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have minister to me in illness than my wife–but for reasons I find difficult to explain but probably related to a sense of loyalty and sympathy for the complex situation of the institutional church at this cultural moment in time, I am willing to forbear.

  69. Ray, do you have an authoritative source for the distinction btw. temple and non-temple exercise of women’s Priesthood? I think your claim is more definite than any official pronouncements would warrant.

    Not to be coy–I think our understanding of Priesthood and women’s relationship to it is woefully inadequate. The fact that the policy has changed with no doctrinal justification given makes me suspect that we (the church, collectively) have not yet understood God’s will in this matter.

  70. Try it and see what happens, Kristine. That’s the authoritative source. (*Great big smile*) To acknowledge your point, “It isn’t allowed” might be a better way to phrase it.

    I agree completely with your last paragraph, as long as not knowing God’s will allows for the possibility that the current status quo might be His will. When I say I have no clue, I really mean it. I have no clue, and, as much as I would like to know, I am fine not knowing.

    Of course, it helps that I’m a man.

  71. Awww Steve….you saw right through me. I just happen to keep a CES manual right next to my computer for such instances! Was your intent to wound me to the core and get me to back off or was it just a simple diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the fact that you either do not understand the doctrine of the Law of Common Consent or do not agree with it?

    I sincerely meant that my purpose wasn’t to attack, and I am still not attacking, but one post from Jared and you called him pedantic and pseudo-questioning and accused him of calling people apostate or doctrinally challenged. I saw his questions as asking for a different point of view. You don’t know either one of us (and we don’t know each other)but what I do know of you is that you pat yourself on the back about being willing to discuss and debate and be passionate about your views on things and then throw a hissy fit when someone comes along with the audacity to challenge your point of view.

  72. Kristine,

    I think the questions are important to ask IF the actual authority was ever given to women of the church and then removed. I’m not convinced that the authority was ever given, so your assumption that I think God removed it is mistaken simply for that reason.

    IF the actual authority was given in no uncertain terms,(which would be gospel history) then there is a significant reason to wonder about a subsequent removal. I think it behooves us very much to know exactly what the situation was, because if it was never truly given in the first place, it could not have been taken and the whole issue is founded on assumptions and personal opinion.

    And if the entire matter is one based on the personal opinions or statements of individuals within the Church and NOT based on any actual facts or doctrinal instances…then the REAL problem here is far worse.

  73. Steve-
    #55

    My intent was to ask you a question. There is no reason I should or could scare you, and it is not my job to correct you.

    YOU called it a covenant not on par with temple covenants, not me, and MY read on that was that some covenants with God are “less important” than others. If that is true, I need you to educate me in the differences and if the consequences of breaking or obeying them also differs.

    Or you can just continue to use big pedantic words to intimidate and shame me if you like.

  74. Steve Evans says:

    abish, I apologize for being overly hostile. I intended was no diversionary attack — indeed, I concede to you all victory in the Battle of Whether Sustainings Are Covenants. I do appreciate that your purpose wasn’t to attack, and that you are still not attacking.

    Perhaps I am not doing an adequate job of expressing which aspects in particular I find distasteful in comments such as yours, or previously Jared’s (although in reading jared’s later comments I have come to believe that he is a better man than I gave him credit for, and probably a better one than I will ever be). Here is the problem: nobody likes to be lectured. Jared’s earlier questions, and your cites from various manuals, smack not of discussion, but of lecture. Discussion involves a sharing of points of view on a level that permits both sides to understand each other. I do not believe that you are interested in discussion.

    I say this, speaking as someone that is also rarely interested in discussion. Your comments on this thread, for example, from when you stormed on the scene in #28, to your lengthy G.A. quotes, are less indicative of someone who wants to talk about things than someone who just wants to be heard. So, I’ll likely continue to pat myself on the back and attack and mock those I disagree with, but most especially I’ll attack and mock the people with whom I not only disagree but with whom any disagreement can never lead to any common understanding.

  75. Ray-
    #59

    A covenant refers to a promise made between man and God, not another man. When we sustain the prophet, we aren’t voting for him or making any promises to him…we are promising to sustain God’s choice in that office.

    I wasn’t the one to declare this a covenant and there are whole chapters about it that are not CES manuals in any form. But hey, it is the high five he gave you before admitting that there is plenty of commentary available that counts!(or was that just another diversion?)

    P.S. I want to point out that I apologized for sounding “attacking”, I also said I meant no offense (which of course I surely lied about)I also said (with all due respect) that I was shocked (because I was)…yada yada. I wasn’t the one who got “snarky” and “critical” and began telling posters that their questions were meaningless, pedantic, and implied that I could discern what someone’s “unstated” motives were.

  76. Steve,

    I appreciate the apology and accept…at least the part that you seemed to actually mean (about being overly hostile). I APOLOGIZED for seeming to “storm onto the scene” earlier and sincerely meant it because my question was sincere as I see things regarding this issue.

    You STILL think I just pulled up some CES manual for lecture purposes when according to J. Stapley, “data” is required to back up one’s opinion…apparently this did not help you understand me or my point of view so now what?

    And now you have determined that you and I could never come to any kind of understanding, and that anyone that you disagree with deserves to be mocked and attacked. Do you always follow an apology for misjudging someone with more misjudgement? I just confused because I didn’t see this covered in the thread you started previously on “contention”…sigh…why am I asking anyway? You aren’t interested in discussion after all.

  77. When I reach out my hand to do this, though, to give a blessing to the sick, the spirit stops me because I lack the proper authority

    and

    I’ve felt the desire to participate in blessings in the past, but like you, Tatiana, I’ve felt like I lack the proper authority to do so.

    Here’s my problem. Healing the sick should NOT require priesthood authority. As written in 1 Cor 12, D&C 46 and Moroni 10, healing is a gift of the Spirit and open to ALL. A blessing can be given without pronouncing power of the priesthood, and that gift can be asked for in a situation if needed.

    I don’t feel I have the gift of healing, but once my husband was away and my son who had recently recovered from pneumonia started getting a chest infection. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father that for this instance, I be granted the gift of healing. I then lay my hands on his head, and blessed him through my faith that he be healed. He was. His breathing returned to normal and I prayed in gratitude to a Father that hears the requests of His children.

  78. I think the questions are important to ask IF the actual authority was ever given to women of the church and then removed.

    Abish–check out this post from the archives. There are any number of examples of this kind of occurrence from church history, and they didn’t happen just because there wasn’t a man around to do his duty. The first chapter of Mormon Sisters is a nice review of the history of women’s ministrations and mystical experiences (fmh has a review and discussion on the chapter here). Women used to minister to one another and to their families, and that practice was acceptable at the time. Eliza R. Snow evidently gave quite a number of blessings of healing and comfort in her life, and I believe she was encouraged in this and encouraged other women to participate in blessings. There’s plenty of evidence women did, in fact, used to participate in this and with approval from the Prophet, and you really should educated yourself on the history of the topic.

  79. In my opinion, a woman’s “blessing” of healing is a prayer; a man’s blessing of healing, if done under the authority of the priesthood, is a priesthood blessing of healing.

    What’s the added power of “the laying on of hands” anyway? I don’t think that my putting my hands on my daughter when ill adds any power to my prayer. With that said, there’s nothing that says that a prayer has to be said only with arms folded. I think that my discomfort with putting my hands on anyone’s head is that it’s too akin to performing a priesthood blessing. The difference seems to be one blessing is done using the priesthood and the other is not, but not with any less power.

  80. Rebecca, don’t forget also Mark 16:17-18, in which the last words of the resurrected Jesus Christ before ascending to heaven are:

    And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

    Authorization to lay on hands and heal is thus restricted to the very narrow group of “them that believe.” Furthermore, if authority and permission is needed, what greater authority can there be than Jesus? A woman would be quite correct to conduct such a blessing “in the name of and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ,” since such permission is given by none less than the Lord Himself in the quoted text.

    Abish, that all Mormon women once had official and explicit authorization to lay on hands to heal the sick is indeed a matter of history. The most famous quote is from Joseph Smith to the Nauvoo Relief Society on April 28, 1842:

    “there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing… there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water… If the sisters should have faith to heal, let all hold their tongues.”

    The practice of women laying on hands to heal was widespread indeed among Mormons for many decades after that statement. This is not a point of controversy among Mormon historians; theologically conservative historians are as convinced as anyone else by the historical record on this. If you want to see an interesting chunk of that record, the classic article on this is by Linda King Newell, in the presentation linked in Kris’s original post and in available for free online in text format, with responses, in this issue of Sunstone.

  81. Kristine–I wouldn’t get caught up in the question of “authority” given and removed. In my mind that smacks of creating a conflict with those called to lead, which in turn, increases static with the things of the spirit.

    I’d speculate that a woman with the gift to heal will find a way to apply that gift without offending the spirit.

    It may have more to with avoiding the appearance of … than anything else. I think of the issue the former days saints had to deal with of not eating idol meat. Eating perfectly sumptuous idol meat wasn’t the issue, it was eating it in front of other church members whose faith might have been challenged.

  82. Idol meat

    8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
    9 But take heed lest by any means this aliberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
    10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
    11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
    12 But when ye sin so against the abrethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
    13 Wherefore, if meat amake my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

    (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 8:8 – 13)

  83. John Mansfield says:

    For those who have studied the history, which came first? Curtailing manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit 1) among female saints or 2) among the church overall? I have the impression that prophesying using tongues and interpretation of tongues is something a saint a century ago would have had a better chance of encountering in a Relief Society than in a priesthood quorum, but that’s just my unstudied impression.

  84. Jared, I assume you’re talking to me when you state this:

    Kristine–I wouldn’t get caught up in the question of “authority” given and removed. In my mind that smacks of creating a conflict with those called to lead, which in turn, increases static with the things of the spirit.

    Again, I would like to point out the main thrust of the original post was that women gave up the authority to bless and heal the sick by not exercising it. That’s very different from the idea you claim we’re espousing–that ‘we’re being oppressed by those overbearing, unrighteous men.’ Quite the contrary–the point I get is that we women are in essence oppressing ourselves. Did we, through our own timidness, allow this blessing to be taken from us, and not because our Father in Heaven disapproves, but because our culture disapproves, or even more simply, just doesn’t explicitly sanction it? I’ve heard any number of women (in these blogs primarily) express wistfulness at the idea of ministering/being ministered to by other women. The question being raised is, did we give up that right? Maybe even more poignantly, is that right still ours and are we still too timid or unaware to exercise it? Are we women waiting for a sanction that has already come?

  85. Kristine-interesting thought. If that did occur as you suggest, then it is lamentable history.

  86. Kristine-the good news is that spiritual gifts are still available, and still needed by the saints. In fact, in my opinion, men and women are allowing the gifts of the to fade away not due to timidness, but due to lack of interest.

    Helaman 12 tells the story. The greatest enemy we face today is prosperity.

    I like what Elder Wirthlin said:

    Prosperity can deaden us to spiritual things. It can give us the illusion of power. When we are sick, we can go to a doctor and get healed. When we are hungry, we can feed ourselves. When we are cold, we can get warm. In short, most of the problems of life we can solve ourselves–we can answer many of our own prayers.
    Because of the relative ease many have in acquiring their daily bread, they can become deceived into thinking they are saviors unto themselves. In their pride and foolishness they feel they have little need of a Heavenly Father. They think little of the power that created the universe or of Him who gave His life that they might live.

  87. As RT, said above this is always a messy discussion and is partly made so because of our often confusing uses of the ideas of priesthood power and authority (let alone keys). Does a woman require priesthood to heal? Some would say yes; others would disagree as it is a gift of the Spirit. Eliza R. Snow said at one point that only women who had been endowed should lay on hands to heal.

    Women blessed the sick and administered through other rituals not just because there were no men around or because it would have been “improper” in a Victorian sense to touch certain body parts. Men and women would jointly administer together and were encouraged to take this role upon themselves. I am sometimes surprised when people say well we don’t administer as much anymore because now we have hospitals, or who cares if we lay on hands. Of course, healings can occur without oil or through prayers, but I choose to believe there is meaning in our rituals.

    Kristine N. brings up a point that is central to me — if the gift was abandoned can women “take it back” in some sense? While I would agree with the idea that a gift that God bestows can never be taken away, it would seem that the institutional church has certain “rights” and abilities to regulate the use of those gifts. Have women been socialized not to act and bless those who need it?

    Unfortunately, there is not much room for dialogue with the institutional church.. In my experience, most local leaders are unaware of the history and few of us have opportunites to speak with those who preside at the highest levels of the church.

    P.S. Where were all you Kristines with a “K” when I was a kid? I could never get pencils with my name on them spelled correctly!

  88. How many Kristines are there? Are Kris, Kristine and Kristine N all different Kristines or just different manifestations of the same Kristine?

    Misty: I find your comment very problematic. If there is no difference in power between a prayer and a priesthood blessing then why do we perform priesthood blessings? Also, if there is no added virtue in the laying on of hands, why do it?

    I believe the reason we do these things is that there is meaning and power in them. I also believe that women have the right and the gift of healing (some–male and female–may have this gift more than others) by the laying on of hands, not just through prayer.

    I also believe there is much that we have still to understand concerning women and the priesthood. Obviously, based on our temple rituals, women have or can have some form of priesthood. It’s clear that women exercised more power and/or authority in this regard previously than currently. Why? I don’t know, but I doubt women would have abandoned the gift without a lot of encouragement.

    Another way to put it is that women exercising this gift was discouraged by some. I think women should exercise this power unless and until they are told not to, then see where that discussion leads.

  89. MCQ, we three Kristines are one in purpose…

  90. I want to bear my testimony of the true Kristine.

  91. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, where-ever one of the Kris-es post, they are all there in spirit. Except if it’s Kristine N commenting on climate change, I don’t know if the other Kris-es know about that stuff very much. And I’m pretty sure only one of them likes the Red Sox.

    In all seriousness, I had a nightmare last night that I was called to account for my shabby treatment of Jared and Abish. Perhaps it is because both of them have Book of Mormon names, but REGARDLESS — the nightmare scared the crap out of me. Steve Buscemi was also in there. So, again I say that I regret my verbal sparring with the two of them.

    I’m not making up the bit about the nightmare.

  92. It’s kind alike Heavenly Mother, MCQ — There are a multiplicity of Kristines.

    (That’s why we’re not allowed to address her directly. Just send your message to Steve, and he’ll direct it to the proper Kristine.)

  93. I think that the question of why we perform a physical act (the laying on of hands) in conjunction with a blessing is a very interesting one. Just looking to Christ, he performed healings in many ways. Sometimes he simply said “Take up your bed and walk”, sometimes he laid his hands on the sick, and one time he put mud on a blind man’s eyes (as I recall Talmage discusses these differences in modes of healing in Jesus the Christ, though I can’t remember his conclusions). I’m not sure that we can say 100% that there is power simply in the laying on of hands, there is an argument to be made that faith is what is really required. If that’s true, then Misty’s point of view (#79) could be completely correct. Perhaps the physical act of putting hands on a head simply helps us concentrate and focus, similar to folding our arms and closing our eyes while praying.

    All that being said, I do tend to believe that there is something special and powerful about the laying on of hands, but maybe that’s just me. Is there any scripture that explicitly says that the laying on of hands has power in and of itself? So, as is unfortunately too often the case, I can see both sides of the argument: a woman’s prayer of faith can be just as powerful as a blessing, but at the same time the scriptures and many years of early church precedent say that women are perfectly able to lay hands on the sick to heal, with miraculous results.

  94. Steve: It’s going to be ok, just stop watching “Big Daddy” right before bed.

    Kaimi: Does that mean Steve is a spiritual polygamist? and further: who do I send my message in the name of?

  95. MCQ,

    You ask an interesting question in #88. If there is no difference in power between a prayer and a priesthood blessing, then why do priesthood blessings? My wife and I have been counseled by at least one priesthood leader that she can, if she chooses, bless in the name of Jesus Christ. All priesthood ordinances that I’ve ever done have been in the Savior’s name. What is the difference between a priesthood blessing and a non-priesthood blessing done by someone with the gift of healing? I’m probably wrong, but I’ve thought that one reason to do a blessing by the power of the priesthood and in deity’s name is that there is power in the priesthood that makes up for any deficiency I may have in the healing gift. That is, the power of the priesthood encompasses all the gifts of the spirit, and so I can give a gift of healing through the priesthood regardless of the level of the gift of healing I actually have.

    Your mileage may vary.

  96. Could some of this change be because of confusion on the part of the members? I know that the church discourages Aaronic Priesthood holders from participating in MP ordinances not because it is wrong, but because it confuses people. Technically, the only difference is the person has to day they are performing the ordinance by my priesthood instead of our priesthood in that case or the case of a Sister participating.

    I just get the feeling that it is discouraged because the church as a whole isn’t savvy or sophisticated enough.

  97. I think you’re exactly right CSE.

    I hope more priesthood leaders provide that counsel. I have questions, though: Did your priesthood leader describe how your wife should “bless” in the name of Jesus Christ? Was this recommended for purposes of healing only, or any purpose? Was she instructed to lay hands on the person’s head? Any other details?

    Anyone know if there is any counsel to bishops or SPs provided on this subject currently?

  98. austin, fwiw, going back to the second paragraph in Kristine’s #59, I think a HUGE part of this issue is a general lack of undertanding about the nature of the Priesthood – what it actually is and is not.

  99. Since having a certain kind of handle causes Steve to repent of harsh words, I’m hereby adopting a new name. From now on, please address me accordingly. Thanks.

  100. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, nice try. Maybe if you named yourself Cumom.

  101. MCQ,

    The counsel was given for two types of “blessings.” The first was a healing-type blessing, and his advice on whether to lay hands on the person was to do it only if she felt comfortable doing so, and the second was to bless the house or room she was in if she felt there was some other influence that was troubling her. She has rarely done it, but the knowledge that she could do so has been a tremendous comfort to her.

  102. Personally, I would love to have my wife participate in blessings of our children, with her as an endowed priestess of the Most High God.

    My impression is that this would be something that would likely bring us closer as a companionship and bring more strength and power to the blessing in my eyes and in the eyes of my children. But maybe that is a reflection of my own mysticism and wishful thinking.

  103. Steve,

    I’m sorry that you had a nightmare about myself and Jared (chuckles at realizing that both nicks are BOM names…)and I truly hold no hostility in my heart towards you and hope that you feel the same. I also apologize for snipping back at you because it grieves the Spirit that has taken me years (decades)to cultivate in my life and I’m ashamed for doing so.

    My final take on this whole issue is that if someone HAS the gift of the spirit for the “laying on of hands for healing”-woman or man-they should use it according to the dictations of the Spirit to them personally. If they are female, they can and should do it “in the name of Jesus Christ”. If they are male AND hold the M.Priesthood then they should do it with priesthood authority.

    My opinion is that the women of the church were never given priesthood authority of their own, or ordained to any priesthood office themselves. I think that as time went on, confusion regarding that caused people to begin to assume authority that they did not have rights to and (as is human nature when not following the dictates of the Holy Ghost)THAT probably grew into misuse and/or other distortions of a true principle that is sacred.

    Because it is sacred, I think that the brethren had to be (and still have to be) careful about how things are worded and that we (as members) need to be very in tune to the Spirit in determining how the gift should be used and when. I also have the personal opinion that unless a woman is given a personal manifestation by the Spirit that they HAVE this particular gift, it should only be exercised by women who have been sealed in the temple to a worthy priesthood holder. And that it should always be used in honor and deference to the Holy Priesthood of God. (not necessarily to priesthood holders…does that make sense?)

    P.S. Someday I’d love to hear the details of your nightmare Steve…out of sheer curiosity. Maybe it is my gift of the spirit?? *grin*

  104. ROFL “King Benjamin”

  105. According to my friends this should be my BofM name!

  106. WAY back to #44–Ray, would you object to a woman blessing her children with her husband using the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood “which WE hold”?

    My husband has done extensive research into the practice of parental blessings during the Renaissance. (Anyone who has had a class from Bruce Young knows about this ritual, because he’s such a scholar on it.) Father and mother would lift their arms or place a hand on the child’s head. The child would say something like, “Father [or Mother], I beg thee, grant me a blessing.” The parent would then respond, “God bless thee, my child,” and would invoke any other good wishes on the child’s head. Sir Thomas More would kneel in the street whenever he saw his father and ask for a blessing. And of course, Shakespeare uses the motif in all sorts of plays, most tenderly in _King Lear_.

  107. Kristine,

    I have read the history and when I did, I tried to filter out anything that COULD have just been personal opinion or perhaps the personal interpretations of the sisters etc. involved…which is difficult without them to interview personally. I do not doubt that MANY spiritual and wonderful experiences happened to these women and through their faith. BUT I also do not think that that kind of faith (and the naturally resulting power)is enjoyed by all members, nor will it ever be, as much as we all wish that it could be.

    I do not think that the ability to exercise this gift was taken away by God or anyone else, but rather that it faded out of the spotlight for a very specific reason. This reason is a personal theory that I have watched apply to more and more doctrines as I’ve studied and prayed about for a long time…and briefly it is this…

    The essence of the “test” we experience in mortality is to prove without a doubt (to us more than God)what kind of beings we truly are…telestial, terrestrial, or celestial, with telestial and celestial being opposite ends of the spectrum. Part of the definition of what kind of people inherit the telestial kingdom is that eventually they will get a chance to hear the gospel message but that they will refuse to accept or live any part of it beyond admitting that Jesus is the Christ.

    I BELIEVE that part of the definition of celestial people is that (even while veiled in mortality) they have a driving thirst and yearning, not just for truth itself, (and this is the KEY) but to incorporate every truth they find into their lives as they find it. It is the willingness to submit(completely), the ability to let go of self for something greater, that opens the door to the mysteries of God.

    I cannot do the idea justice here, but if I am correct in my current leanings toward this theory, then for God to “test” beings that are already celestial candidates (free agency will determine it ultimately)they must not only be tried in regards to how they handle SIN, but must also be tried in how determined they are to seek, ponder, discover, and express that thirst…that drive, and the only way to do that is to place certain things outside of the general scope of things. What opportunity is there to seek when all is displayed clearly and plainly?

    This is why I think things like this “healing” issue are not hidden completely nor are they revealed completely-
    1-because there are blessings given to anyone who seeks out these truths that are withheld from those who do not seek at all
    2-AND because there are ADDITIONAL blessings given to those who not only seek but who have the “keys” to expand upon what they find and embrace it with the meekness and submission required.

    I hope this makes sense to you…

  108. Jacob….LOL…which one? Etham or Moron?

  109. If this has already been mentioned, then I apologize.

    But the gifts of the spirit as enumerated by Paul, Moroni, and D&C, do not appear to be connected to Priesthood authority. If a woman can speak in tongues (a gift of the spirit), why can’t she heal (a gift of the spirit)?

  110. Which do you think, abish? Of course it’s the latter!

  111. Steve-#91-I came here to acquire and share understanding. So far I’m very pleased. BTW, you are a big man on campus!

    Looking forward to more “understanding”. Pleasant dreams.

    In fact, I don’t know what it requires to author an article on a blog, but it would be fun to prepare one in a coming day–on the the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the spirit. It would be enjoyable to learn from the comments. There are a lot of sharp minds here.

  112. Jared: Steve is a BMOC only in the metaphorical sense of the word “big.” But beware the manpurse.

    Also, there are sharp minds here only in the metophorical use of the word…oh, never mind.

  113. Let me ask this:

    From read Bushman’s RSR I came away with the impression that the way the priesthood was supposed to be organized (in terms of offices and responsibilities) was not at all clear to Joseph or the early leaders of the church. (If I am wrong then you can stop reading here.) The organization seemed to evolve over time.

    I think, despite all we are taught in the church, we are still evolving in our understanding of the priesthood, its roles, and its responsibilities. This particular thread certainly is evidence of that.

  114. Margaret- This tradition sort of survives still today in the philippines. When you see your senior, the parent or grandpart will extend their hand, you say “bless ko, beh” (bless me lease) then you take their hand and instead of kissing it, you press it to your forhead.

  115. I believe there is a similar ritual in orthodox Jewish families–of parents blessing their children. (Why would “Sabbath Prayer” be in _Fiddler on the Roof_ if there weren’t this kind of ritual? “May the Lord preserve and protect you…”) I can’t bring my husband into this discussion, because he’s got to get his book finished (he would know everything), but I suspect that most cultures have (or have had)something like parental blessings. I’m guessing there are such things in Hindu, Buddhist, and other religions. I’d be interested in knowing more.

  116. The gift has been abandoned. Scripturally, the priesthood is to be used in connection with healing only when there is a lack of faith, among believers. Where there is faith, no priesthood is needed. There is nothing wrong with a woman or a man who doesn’t hold the priesthood, but who possesses the gift of faith to heal, laying hands on and speaking in the name of Jesus Christ to heal the individual. Even anointing is okay. As long as it’s not done “by the authority of the Melchizidek priesthood,” there is no usurpation of authority and it is scriptural:

    SICK—FAITHLESS MEMBERS

    The Lord said, “And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy. And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection. And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.
    • • •
    “And they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons; and inasmuch as they break not my laws thou shalt bear their infirmities.” (D&C 42: 43-47, 52)

    SICK—FAITHFUL SAINTS

    The Lord said, “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed. He who hath faith to see shall see. He who hath faith to hear shall hear. The lame who hath faith to leap shall leap.” (D&C 42: 48-51)

  117. Abish–you put forward an interesting theory, and you’ve obviously thought a lot about it–much more than I have, so I’m afraid I can’t comment on it directly. However, if, as you say, Celestial people “must also be tried in how determined they are to seek, ponder, discover, and express that thirst…that drive, and the only way to do that is to place certain things outside of the general scope of things” I’m unsure why you are so vehement in your opinions. It gives the impression you’ve already found the answers. I find those who have the answers are those who have quit seeking and pondering, and consequently, have also quit discovering new ideas. If you’re truly seeking to understand, I think it’s problematic that you “filter out anything that COULD have just been personal opinion or perhaps the personal interpretations of the sisters etc. involved.” Again, this implies you’ve already come to a conclusion and you’re disregarding anything that could potentially upset that conclusion. I think much of the ire that’s been directed at you is probably frustration from this perceived attitude–most of us here are still asking questions and trying to be open to the possibility ideas we’ve grown up with, ideas we’ve grown accustomed to, ideas we’ve grown to love, might be wrong.

  118. 112 MCQ – Just don’t get angry with that name!

  119. Just thinking out loud here. A couple of years ago, our SP stood up at the end of our F&T meeting and in a very rude and disturbing way, set a sister and missionaries straight.

    She had related a story of her taking her little dog to the vet and the vet could not figure out what was wrong with her dog. The missionaries happened to come by latter that day and she asked them to give her dog a blessing. They did and the dog got better. I thought it made a good story.

    The SP said it was wrong to ask for a blessing for animals and that the priesthood should not be misused for such things. He knew there were cases in the past where such things were done, but “it was only for special cases” and not to be understood any other way.

    I had never heard of such a thing and after asking a few members on line, *no one* had ever heard of such a thing or knew just where he (the SP) got such an idea. Needless to say, no one that was there that day would again think about blessing an animal, although, if I felt the spirit to do so, I still would. :)

    Is this how things get changed in the Church???

  120. Jacob: Ha! Steve better be sleeping with one eye open from now on.

  121. Steve Evans says:

    I am not afraid of Mesoamerican ninjas.

  122. This has been one of the most thoroughly entertaining reads in a long time!

    The original post is fabulous, and really needs more thought.

    I can say, upstart convert that I am, I have layed my hands upon my childrens heads when my husband was giving a blessing, and done so without pause.

    I have also, in moments of desperation when they are ill, lain my own hands alone on their fevered brows and prayed for the Lord to hear me.

    He did.

  123. Way late to this discussion, but I have a question.

    It seems to me that something that I read in the last year said that the concept of laying on of hands among RS sisters and anointing with oil was more often connected with pregnacy and childbirth, and that with the advent of better medical care in those situations, the potential for confusion with PH blessings created an impetus for curtailing at least the anointing with oil.

    Am I having one of Steve’s nightmares, with Steve Buscemi in pioneer drag, blessing an ox?

    On the other hand, my wife and I have often wondered why a PH blessing would be more effective than the sincere prayer of a loving mother. Even though my wife is aware of this history, she has not ever wanted to lay her hands on in a blessing, even when in the past I suggested it with one of our children.

  124. Kevin, J. or Kris can answer that better than I, and I hope they will, but I would say that sisters gave blessings in many circumstances besides pregnancy and childbirth, and that there was no “confusion” because they were understood to be exercising a power intimately connected with Priesthood, however poorly the connection was understood. The admonitions about not invoking priesthood all happen quite late, after decades during which no one worried about this at all, and, indeed, women were ordained/set apart to administer.

  125. Kristine,

    I was thinking mostly about the anointing part of it, as you are correct, there is substantial evidence of women giving blessings in many circumstances. I am trying to recall if the anointing with oil was less common than the laying on of hands. Stapley, Kris? Bueller? Bueller?

  126. Kevin, women, during the nineteenth century administered to the sick, afflicted and also to the pregnant, all of which typically used oil. The latter type of blessing was what lasted the longest in the Church…it was kind of like the life raft after the ship sank, so people often focus on it. I don’t see any real evidence of priesthood invocation, ever. The first we see explicit instruction not invoke priesthood is 1880 if I am not mistaken.

  127. I, too, have wondered about when there is a need for priesthood authority. I believe that in Lectures on Faith, JS said that the world was created by faith. Faith can move mountains, create worlds, cast out devils, heal – Is the priesthood only truly necessary as the authority for organizational or ordinance work? Outside of those two things, isn’t faith as effective as priesthood?

  128. Kristine,

    I hope I’m reading your post right but either way I wanted to clarify that my “theory” about the tests of mortality COULD BE APPLIED to the reason there is no “official” stand one way or the other on this particular issue (women giving blessings)…and not that I have all the answers to all the questions. (I do not consider myself to be celestialized, but I do try to continually strive towards that goal)

    The thing is, that you are placing an “end” or finish line on the process that I wouldn’t. The discovery of eternal truth happens line upon line, precept upon precept…so finding the answer to one truth is just a stepping stone to the next one. I don’t think it is possible to find all the answers in this life, so the quest is life long. In my experience, people who stop questioning might have found the answer to a specific question (or think they have) and that one (or two or 5)question might be all they were curious about. But it has never been my experience that those who “seek” or want to collect as much truth as possible ever stop wondering, pondering, or having new insights.

    The reason I personally try to filter out what I consider to be personal opinions etc is because I don’t believe that every statement (or idea or journal entry etc) is always complete truth. Two people can have the same experience and interpret it a myriad of ways depending on their culture, their understanding, their spirituality etc, so to satisfy my OWN quest for THE truth, I usually try to discard as much information as I can that could be described as “my truth” or “her truth” until I have a foundation based on what I DO know to be true(or think to be)to start from. People are flawed=flawed opinions and in my experience you can’t reach real truth with flawed elements.

    Anything that doesn’t “fit” solidly on that base is either a variable OR something else I need to investigate independently.If I end up tossing it, it doesn’t mean that she’s a liar or evil or even stupid…it just means that she added a variable that didn’t work for me.

    If you looked at it from my point of view, it might look like you are insisting that the personal opinions of these women, who were regular human beings are inherently truth and that you will disregard any conclusion that could potentially upset that idea.

    It’s kind of like the insinuation (my perception) that because I’m not asking the same questions that “most of you” are, that I’m not open to new ideas, that I have completely and blindly swallowed everything that I was taught as a child, and that I refuse to let go of any concept that I love.

    Maybe I’m just frustrated because in a group of free thinkers and unbiased personalities so much “ire” was directed towards me based on a “perception” of my “attitude” rather than what my attitude really is?

  129. #106 – Margaret, personally, in theory, I would not object – assuming they had been endowed and sealed in the temple. However, at this moment, in practice, I’m not sure I would openly endorse or encourage it – or even imply endorsement. I don’t have a handbook with me at the moment, and I would have to look closely at the wording to say one way or another.

    Pres. Faust said once that leaders should not let the handbook keep them from the guidance of the Spirit to which they were entitled, but I would have to look at the “must” and the “should” and the “may” to make that determination. Honestly, it’s been some time since I have read and parsed those particular guidelines – and I would need to do so in order to answer that question fully.

  130. #122 – “A little child (new convert) shall lead them.” Thanks, Tracy M. When you cut through all of the intellectual efforts, there is a lot that can be done through the exercise of faith. Why argue about the invocation of Priesthood authority when so much good can and should be done regardless?

    If not being able to invoke that authority keeps someone from exercising faith like Tracy describes, then I think that person truly has abandoned a special gift – first of simply being a spiritual child of God and, more importantly, of being accepted as one who can bear and invoke His name. Not everyone can act *for* Him, but many can act *through* Him.

  131. I was talking to my husband about this last night and it made me think about the temple initiatories, as we’ve already discussed. The initiatory blessing for the sisters is done with “authority” but not with “priesthood authority.” However, that difference doesn’t make my initiatory any less valid or powerful than the men’s initiatory which is done, I’m assuming, invoking “priesthood authority.”

    #95 – I also thought that the power of the priesthood makes up for deficiencies that a prayer of faith might not otherwise.

  132. Misty, what authority is there in this church outside of priesthood authority?

  133. I wanted to clarify that my “theory” about the tests of mortality COULD BE APPLIED to the reason there is no “official” stand one way or the other on this particular issue (women giving blessings)

    I was getting the impression from your earliest posts that you believed there was an official stand and this issue and were attempting to enforce that view on the rest of us.

    People are flawed=flawed opinions and in my experience you can’t reach real truth with flawed elements.

    So, there’s another way to approach finding truth from others’ experiences, and one that’s been discussed in somewhat different ways on other (probably more appropriate) posts. People are, in some sense, independent experiments, each one flawed, and occurring under slightly to significantly different conditions. Averaging enough of them gives you a robust result even though each individual trial isn’t perfect. This is similar to what’s done in most observational science–you collect as many data points as you can, with the understanding each data point represents slightly different conditions that you frequently can’t control or constrain well. You might have to throw out the results of some trials, though usually that’s only done if there’s some reason to suspect a datum is bad. Frequently, you must figure out how to control for confounding influences, where possible. Overall, even with all the problems in individual trials, you can get a pretty good picture of truth by looking at what works, or what’s consistent over a sufficiently large data set.

    Here’s the thing: you can’t throw out data just because. There has to be a justifiable reason to ignore data points. If you consistently throw out data that trend a certain way, you bias your data set in a way that makes it non-robust, and you may miss important interpretations.

    You may very well be right that the women who ministered to one another and to their families were a special case, but your argument will go much further around here if you present evidence that a situation was a special case, than you will if you simply assert the situation didn’t happen at all.

  134. Kristine-

    I surrender.
    I went back over every post to see where I ever implied that I believed there was an official stance and I honestly cannot see it. I actually strive to state my words and opinions clearly so that no one HAS to interpret, assume, or perceive anything other than what I actually said, but I cannot control anything beyond my side of the screen. If I think there is an official stand on anything, I’ll back it up with evidence to support it…but you’ll have to smack Steve over the hands with a CES manual when I do.

    There are many ways of approaching truth, and to each his or her own. I simply explained my personal method of choice. You think people are experiments and I think people are creations with purpose and that God knows exactly what the outcome will be. I personally don’t believe that science or its methods are the best tools to use when dealing with the free agency or the eternal spirits of humans and you do. I don’t believe you can apply observational science to people you cannot observe (because they are dead) so it pretty much makes it impossible to determine the depth of spiritual understanding, emotional maturity, intent, or even reliability of every woman quoted. But you know more about science than I do, so I have no problem admitting that I’m probably totally wrong.

    That said, I will say again (because I very clearly did in post #32) that I do not doubt that these blessings happened, nor do I have any problem with the act or practice of it then or now. The ONLY thing I have tried repeatedly to address is my own (and obviously pathetic) notion that before I can determine if something has been “taken away” from me, I feel responsible to first determine that something actually “was given” to me, who gave it and how it was given. So far it’s been discussed as:

    1-Gift of the Spirit -the scriptures do not state (and neither does any doctrine) that every believer has the exact same spiritual gifts, so if you define the “gift of healing” as a gift of the spirit…it is outside of doctrine to believe that every woman (or man) would have it.
    2-A gift exercised “through” priesthood held by a male to whom a woman is sealed. If that is the case, then ONLY those who are sealed can or should exercise it, and only in the capacity of their shared priesthood stewardship.
    3-A gift “given” to women through some kind of ordination by an authorized priesthood holder. This one I have obvious problems with, because to my knowledge (which is not perfect) there is no evidence (other than that which qualifies as hearsay) to indicate such ordinations ever happened in “special cases”, let alone that they happened on a “general” scale to the women of the church body as a whole, and that these ordinations were suddenly halted or revoked.

    I do not believe I have the right (or the need ) to be upset about “losing” something that I was never given in the first place, so if this gift is:
    #1 and I don’t have it now and never do, it simply wasn’t meant to be one of my gifts.
    #2 then as a woman sealed to my eternal companion, I have the right to use it as I and my spouse personally feel inspired to (and no one else has any right to say even the slightest thing about it).
    Proven to be #3, then I’d have to examine the evidence to determine WHO revoked the ordinations along with WHY before I could in good conscience join a complaint of injustice towards the “special cases” and/or feel rightfully deprived of something that should have been extended to me.

    But that is just ME.

  135. Abish – I don’t think anyone is disagreeing with your #1. But there are surely some women who have this gift and would be frowned upon if they used it, as healing has in effect been taken over as a priesthood duty.

  136. I agree with Rebecca, but Abish, I would also suggest there is a #4: A gift given to women to bless those within their stewardships when they are in need.

  137. Abish #134 – your #3 just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m pretty sure it’s been mentioned on this thread already, but Joseph Smith set apart women to anoint and lay on hands. And that’s not hearsay, it’s documented fact.

    Elizabeth Ann Whitney received her authority to bless through ordination. “I was . . . ordained and set apart under the hand of Joseph Smith the Prophet to administer to the sick and comfort the sorrowful. Several other sisters were also ordained and set apart to administer in these holy ordinances.

    from Women and Authority chapter 19, by Betina Lindsey

    #136 – I agree MCQ, and a previous comment I made detailing a personal experience would be an example of this.

  138. 3-A gift “given” to women through some kind of ordination by an authorized priesthood holder. This one I have obvious problems with, because to my knowledge (which is not perfect) there is no evidence (other than that which qualifies as hearsay) to indicate such ordinations ever happened in “special cases”,

    Abish,
    Ah–here’s what’s wrong: you’re arguing from incorrect premises. The evidence for women being authorized (sometimes called “ordained”, sometimes “set apart”) by priesthood leaders to perform blessings is abundant enough to be overwhelming. Start with Linda King Newell’s article “A Gift Given, A Gift Taken,” or with “Mystics and Healers” in Bushman’s _Mormon Sisters_. If you don’t know this history, then you’re at a serious disadvantage in the discussion, and it’s no wonder that you’re feeling beleaguered.

    J. and Kris, hurry up and publish your article(s) so I can add them to the list!!

  139. *sigh*

    Abish–it was an analogy. The point was, if you’re trying to make a rigorous argument about what did or did not happen, you can’t arbitrarily throw out things you decide are opinion. You have to show why someone’s experiences and the records they’ve kept are hearsay with actual evidence. I’m a scientist, so I think about ideas and express things in terms of experiments, but even in non-science discussions the form of an argument, and consequent treatment of evidence is the same.

    I also cringe at your characterization of the rest of us as upset. I think you’ve come into this discussion with the expectation that we’re all mad at the prophet and seem to feel we’re badmouthing the prophet by asking how our current situation came about. That’s not at all the case. I’ve followed this discussion out of curiosity and a desire to know if there is something I should be doing that I’m not, not because I need some reason to be mad about my situation as a woman. Like I said earlier, I’ve at times wished I could bless someone else, or participate in a blessing, but I’ve never thought it appropriate even though I am familiar with the past practice of women washing and anointing and blessing each other. That belief of mine has obviously been shaped by my experience (seeing only men participating in blessings) and my culture. I’m really quite glad to hear other’s experience, especially those who have seen/received/participated in a blessing given by a woman because it gives a shape and a reason to my desires other than wanting something that isn’t mine to ask.

  140. I am not personally against women having or exercising the gift of healing or other gifts for that matter. But I find it interesting that in this subject, we refer to things used to be (ie: in JSJ’s time) as though that time represented the perfect church. But on the subject of polygamy (and other subjects) many on this blog say that the early leaders were wrong. I am incredibly confused.

  141. Wes–I don’t see anybody characterizing the earlier church as perfect. They have pointed out that it’s different, and that it appears women had more latitude then for the exercise of a particular spiritual gift. Whether or not that latitude was/is appropriate or desirable is open for debate, I think.

  142. I’m with Kristine here. Historic facts don’t definitively resolve how things ought to be, but they do inform and widen our perspective as to what may be possible.

  143. Kristine (and Rebecca)

    Here’s how I look at the example you quoted from Elizabeth Ann Whitney-

    SHE wrote that statement about an experience that happened to her. I don’t know her, nor was I there when it happened so while her account of what happened might be perfectly true, it might also mean something different than what we think it means today.

    The word “ordained” has many meanings, and as LDS members today we view the word very differently than others might (especially during Joseph Smith’s time). The same goes for the word “administer”. Being “set apart” doesn’t always include a ritual ordination, and my own patriarchal blessing says that I am “ordained” to certain things and none of them (so far) have required any kind of priesthood anointing or bestowal of power. What if my blessing said “You have been ordained with the gift of healing” regarding one of my gifts of the spirit?

    Imagine today being called to be a Relief Society President. Imagine your bishop setting you apart and saying that you have been ordained to administer to the sick and the sorrowful. Would you think that you had just been “ordained” to the Priesthood and that he was telling you to anoint and lay hands every sick or sorrowful person you encounter, or might you interpret his words very differently?

    We use different words in the Church today than they did in the early Church, and revelations have caused our understanding about gospel truths to broaden. While there is EVERY chance that Joseph Smith DID ordain (as in some kind of official power bestowed)several women as was manifested to him to do, and I have no problem with that. He also might have given THOSE women a charge to “ordain” others as they saw fit, and again, no problem for me.Seriously.

    But there is also every chance that he just used the WORD “ordain” which can and OFTEN does mean “called or appointed” as in a blessing bestowed upon these women in the premortal sense. If he was simply declaring one of their own gifts of the spirit to them and encouraging them to USE it for good in their new callings, would not the whole controversy takes on a different slant?

    My problem IS that today we don’t know exactly WHAT it was or there wouldn’t be so many differing opinions about it! My problem is that even without ONE SHRED of EVIDENCE that a crime has been committed, without any proof of unrighteousness…in fact, with what boils down to just a state of things are not operating in the manner that they did in the past, and/or in the manner that some feel they SHOULD be operating…that the answer lies in sentencing someone, somehow as GUILTY!! Because…sheesh….we all know you cannot go to court over being wronged without someone to accuse…..

  144. Steve Evans says:

    abish, part of the problem here is that your interpretation is simply not the predominant one amongst historians familiar with the topic. Indeed, that’s an understatement; there is general consensus as to the status and use of ordainings, callings and blessings by women in the early days of the Church, and the consensus is that it was pretty much as it is with men today. Your suppositions and theoretical interpretations are not supported by the history available to us, which — as you admitted — you have neither studied very much, nor find particularly interesting.

  145. Kristine-I’ve followed this discussion out of curiosity and a desire to know if there is something I should be doing that I’m not,

    You will never find the answer to your desire in a book, in an argument, in a past practice or doctrine. The ONLY way to learn truth is through the Holy Ghost. If you feel there is something you should be doing, seek the Lord for your answer. If you are worthy and humble and doing all you can to be obedient, you have the RIGHT to petition God directly AND expect a direct answer.

    I am not trivializing the issue, I’m pointing out that it really is that simple.

  146. abish, the examples are legion. Here is just one example of a blessing by an apostle in the 1850’s:

    I bless thee with wisdom to go forth and do the duties required of thee: and the way shall be opened for thee to do much good, thou shalt have health and strength; and power to anoint thy children, and lay hands upon them, and they shall recover, the light of the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon thee.

    Now there are examples of women being set apart to administer to the sick generally, even by the First Presidency…in fact, the First Presidency stated, despite this president, that women didn’t need to be set apart for the work (though the frequently were until the 1930’s).

  147. Thomas Parkin says:

    Wes,

    When the older church held to practices that accord with our current sentimientos modernos, nuestra luz mas brilliante, they were una iglesia mehor. Pero, cuando they did things that we no longer like, they were una iglesia mas mal. En todo caso, it all rests on our feelings of ahora mismo. What is will be like en cielo, no tan importante. El ideal is always obscured by our deseos, among otras cosas. We might say that we looking for the best thing, but what we generally are looking for is whatever resonates with our personal feelings. Es impossible saber el ideal, porque estamos de pie de nuestro modo.

    Yo comprendo?
    Si?

    Perdon – I’m feeling extremely pugnacious esta tarde.

    ~

  148. Steve,

    Correct me if I am mistaken here…but it appears to me that if a group of educated and experienced historians interpret something in such a way that they come to a consensus, you have little or no problem accepting their interpretations as “the truth” or close to it.

    I can see your point of view, but I just have such a darn hard time with opinions even in consensi (?) form, because so often…well…they are just wrong.
    the world being flat
    the sun orbiting earth
    original sin
    all orthodox LDS members are blind sheep
    all questioning LDS members are faithless apostates
    and that whole darn thing with crucifying the Son of God…just to name a few.

    Those who have studied this topic in depth, and have obtained a witness from the Holy Ghost regarding the truth can actually express that truth, but as I made clear, I am not one of those people yet. Thus my problem with assigning guilt to any one party or action when it isn’t my right or stewardship to do so.

    But another question just came to me…if a group of educated and experienced General Authorities interpret something in such a way that they come to a consensus do you also have little or no problem accepting their interpretations as “the truth” or close to it?

  149. Steve Evans says:

    Abish, I don’t think your comment there made much sense. We are dealing with questions of historical fact, not mere speculation. Either these women were ordained as male priesthood holders are today, or they were not. There is a factual basis to support the conclusions that J., Kris and others have been laying out — and there is no factual basis for your own suppositions. In other words, you’re off the reservation.

    I’m not willing to engage you on this topic any more, because I don’t believe you understand the history here, or indeed that you understand how history works as a concept. It is a simple matter to read the history and see what women were once able to do as members of this Church. Assigning guilt is not the issue.

    I have no idea what your final question means, but as I said, I’m done. I apologize for engaging with you on this topic.

  150. abish, it actually looks to me as if you’re reading the historical record a bit like an attorney instead of a historian. Rather than choosing the most reasonable interpretation of each piece of evidence — the interpretation that best fits with all the other evidence — you seem to be looking for any possible interpretation on a piece-by-piece basis to avoid concluding that women were once routinely allowed to exercise spiritual gifts that they are now encouraged not to exercise. This is of course your prerogative, but history is not the law and there is no obvious reason for other people to be persuaded by unlikely but possible case-by-case analysis that disregards broad patterns across hundreds of pieces of seemingly reinforcing evidence. To the outsider, such an approach inevitably looks like motivated thinking, rather than genuine reasoning. Of course, your purposes are unknowable to me, so I won’t conclude that you are in fact engaging in motivated reasoning. But your method seems somewhat less than helpful to your cause.

  151. Steve Evans says:

    RT, don’t insult the attorneys.

  152. Abish, I’m wondering about your last question here: “f a group of educated and experienced General Authorities interpret something in such a way that they come to a consensus do you also have little or no problem accepting their interpretations as “the truth” or close to it?”

    Are you suggesting that General Authorities have offered an interpretation of the historical record in this instance? I’d be very interested in any statements you could produce along those lines.

  153. Can I just comment that this discussion of the last several comments could have been lifted straight out of the first decade-and-a-half of Mormonism, right down to the anti-lawyer comments? The witness of history, the meaning of reason, the primacy of the witness of the spirit. abish is taking a position very similar to one Smith himself took in the 1840s–charisma, the witness of the spirit, is the arbiter of truth, but it must be constrained by priesthood hierarchy. Ah the grand cycles of life and the mind.

  154. Well, abish, I bow to the Holy Ghost trump card. I’m going to continue in my prideful, worthiness-compromising ways of research and wish you well in your humble, obedient, non-researchy ways.

  155. #145 abish–I agree with what you’re saying. Seeking to answer difficult questions like the one being discussed on this thread can best be done by seeking the spirit.

    I’d like to share an experience. A few years ago I approached the Lord in prayer regarding a doctrine that Brigham Young taught. I had done my due diligence studying and praying about this doctrine for many years and had received impressions and comfort in answer. However, I still had one question that I wanted to understand. I appealed to the Lord and said: If it is thy will to answer this question for me then I request that it be done today. If it is thy will to answer please show me clearly. If it is not thy will then I will understand and will no longer trouble thee about this question. I meant what I said.

    I went about my daily task and had a prayer in my heart throughout the day. I was looking up some information about the author of a book I had just read, which had nothing to do with the question I brought to the Lord. While doing this I ended up on a website and found detailed information on the topic I brought to the Lord. The answer provided at this point was difficult for me to believe. A few hours later I called a friend of mine to schedule dinner plans. In the course of our conversation, never mentioning anything about my prayer, he chuckled and said, “I can’t believe what is sitting on my desk under my elbow, I just noticed it.”

    He read it to me. It was a quote from Brigham Young that in conjunction with my earlier experience totally answered my question. Incidentally, my friend taught church doctrine.

    I received my answer and even experienced the law of witnesses in the process. I was brought to tears and thanked the Lord for his kindness.

    Alma 26:22 refers to this kind of experience.

    I don’t want to leave the impression that every prayer I raise up to the Lord is answered. Sometimes no answer– is the answer. Sometime the heavens seem like brass. Then there are other times the Lord has answered me by dreams, visions, ministering of angels (unseen) and etc. But most often it is through other people or while reading the scriptures, and most often by impressions that come to my mind and heart.

    It doesn’t take many experiences like this before ones confidence in the Lord grows strong.

    But I am always amazed at my initial lack of faith when I first set out to obtain an answer. It seems I have to fight doubt off nearly every time. I’m ashamed of this lack of faith and wonder if it will always be there.

    Prayer is work and not always easy.

  156. Jared, I also don’t want to engage this conversation, but I have to ask for one clarification – as briefly as you can answer it – a simple “yes” or “no” is fine. I am totally sincere in my question – and, again, I don’t want a lengthy answer. I just want to know if I read your last comment as you meant it.

    Are you saying that every truly faithful member won’t need to try to understand something intellectually because s/he simply will have the proper faith to get the answer spiritually – that searching for a historical understanding of this particular issue is a waste of time reserved to those whose faith isn’t strong enough to go directly to the Lord and learn straight from Him?

  157. Steve #151, You’re no fun at all. If we can’t insult the attorneys, what’s left?

  158. Ann, I guess not much at all. I suppose we can still parody the accountants, a fuddy-duddy if lovable bunch.

  159. #156 Ray–no, I don’t mean that at all.

    I believe the reason I was able to obtain an answer was due, in part, to the fact I had studied and prayed for years.

  160. To all…I completely apologize because I’m almost sure this will be completely futile, but I have enough faith left in this discussion to at least attempt one final time to speak with the spirit and hope that others will listen with the spirit, so that the Holy Ghost can edify everyone. If not, then I guess I’m out…

    J.’s opinion STILL as of post #150
    you seem to be looking for any possible interpretation on a piece-by-piece basis to avoid concluding that women were once routinely allowed to exercise spiritual gifts that they are now encouraged not to exercise.

    Facts- yes, I did go back and count because this is my integrity we’re talking about here.
    I stated at least 3 times EACH that-
    I believe that these women gave blessings
    I approved of them doing it.

    I ALSO stated 3 times
    that I have no problem with women doing it TODAY depending on circumstance AND that anyone who has this gift SHOULD use it.

    I never ONCE said that these women were not encouraged to use their gifts by priesthood officials.I AGREE with J.’s post (#49) that it IS true that they were once encouraged to do it and now we aren’t.

    kristine’s opinion…I was getting the impression from your earliest posts that you believed there was an official stand and this issue and were attempting to enforce that view on the rest of us.

    Fact-
    I never stated, nor even hinted that there was an “official stand” on this issue, nor do I believe there is.

    Fact-
    More than 7 times I expressed that my ONLY frustration stems from the fact that the only TWO choices that these historians seem to want to offer me to choose from are:
    Women either lost the right to use this power
    Women had this power taken away
    .

    I strongly, STRONGLY object to BOTH of those answers which is why I keep asking for clarification. BUT again, anything presented to me as “fact” appears to ME to be colored with the personal opinion or interpretation of others…for example.

    In post #80 J. quotes Joseph Smith:
    “there could be no evil in it [women laying on hands]if God gave His sanction by healing…” and that there could be no more sin in it than any OTHER medical administration like wiping one’s brow…and then it says THIS:
    “if the sisters have the FAITH to heal, let all hold their tongues”.

    What is does NOT say is that the sisters “have been given the power to heal” or “authority to heal” or that they have been “ordained to heal”. It says “If they have the faith to heal people (a gift of the spirit) and God shows his approval by healing the person…then shut up!”

    I’m sorry that I don’t see what you see J. but I cannot read that to say what you seem think it says.

    Same with the blessing quoted where the mother is told that she shall have power to lay hands on her own children. Women in the church today can STILL do that and this blog proves that they indeed DO.

    SO…I ask ONE more time. IS there ANY evidence that proves completely and undeniably that a priesthood holder placed his hands on ANY of these women and performed a now UNKNOWN or UNUSED priesthood ritual that literally transferred a now UNKNOWN or UNUSED priesthood power or office upon them?????

    I am stubborn enough to insist on at least that ONE piece of evidence because in my mind, without it, it IS entirely possible that Joseph Smith and other priesthood leaders laid their hands on these women and “authorized” “encouraged” “ordained” them to UTILIZE their FAITH (which reveals and enhances SPIRITUAL GIFTS) and GIFTS to “bless” and “heal” other people by the laying on of hands!!!!!!

    I happen to think that it is both irrational and irresponsible for anyone NOT to insist on such evidence.

    Because then I have the right and duty to apply to kristine and J.’s theories the same bias they applied to mine:
    You seem to be looking for any possible interpretation to avoid concluding that this entire issue, and books, and studies, and opinions MIGHT….just MIGHT be based on a mistaken consensus/MISINTERPRETATION of words like “ordain” “set apart” etc. etc.

    Ciao’

  161. Ray et al-I am not trying to draw attention to myself by what I wrote above. I am trying to draw attention to what is available to everyone. The scripture abound with the promise that prayers will be answered.

    I had hoped by now that their would be others who would chime in the discussion and add to what I have posted. I am surprised and trying to understand why my post is being “ignored”. Help me understand.

  162. Abish,

    You may want to have your keyboard checked out. It appears that both your exclamation point key and your question mark key is getting stuck on occasion.

    (Oh and I think there might be a glitch with your caps lock key as well…)

  163. Abish, my only contribution:

    Please re-read the first paragraph of your #160. I don’t know if you meant to convey this, but it is hard to read that paragraph and not conclude that you believe you have been speaking by the Spirit and are frustrated that everyone else has not been listening by the Spirit – that the Holy Ghost can confirm the correctness of your assertion (or, perhaps more accurately, confirm the incorrectness of the opposite assertion) if everyone else simply would listen to it.

    That’s the problem I think everyone is having. You are talking with people who have studied this extensively, *while also praying for the enlightenment of the Spirit* in that process. It comes across as someone who admits to not having studied the issue nearly as extensively discrediting and denying all of their sincere efforts to understand – telling them, essentially, “I might not be right, but I know you aren’t right” – even if that’s not what you mean.

    Again, the impression that comes through the words is that you believe you have been enlightened by the Spirit, and that you are speaking here by the Spirit, but that those who don’t agree or can’t accept your words must, by default, be speaking only by the limited light of their intellects – that if they only opened their hearts to the Spirit they would realize the error of their ways.

    Many of us are active, dedicated, believing, temple recommend holding, leadership position serving members of the Church who seek to the best of our ability to discern truth to the best of our ability *with our whole soul* – mind and spirit. I hope you understand that and, somehow, can understand why so many have reacted as they have.

  164. Ray, do you have an authoritative source for the distinction btw. temple and non-temple exercise of women’s Priesthood?

    I’m not Ray, and I know I’ve shared this before, and I know some people have taken issue with this quote, but FWIW, this is from Elder Oaks (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Relief Society and the Church,” Ensign, May 1992, 34):

    In considering the Prophet’s instructions to the first Relief Society, we should remember that in those earliest days in Church history more revelation was to come. Thus, when he spoke to the sisters about the appropriateness of their laying on hands to bless one another, the Prophet cautioned “that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order—that the Church is not now organized in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed.” (Minutes, 28 Apr. 1842, p. 36.) During the century that followed, as temples became accessible to most members, “proper order” required that these and other sacred practices be confined within those temples.

    I usually try to stay away from quotes these days because I know it bugs some people when I do share them, but I think it’s worth throwing out something else he said, because I think the term priesthood is sometimes used too loosely.

    President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the Prophet’s action opened to women the possibility of exercising “some measure of divine authority, particularly in the direction of government and instruction in behalf of the women of the Church.” (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1965, p. 5.) President Smith explained: “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, … that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. Authority and Priesthood are two different things. A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord.” (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, p. 4.)

    One more:

    Some members of the Church are now teaching that priesthood is some kind of a free-floating authority which can be assumed by anyone who has had the endowment….[T]hey have missed the one simple, obvious absolute that has governed the bestowal of priesthood from the beginning, ….The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing. It has been so since the beginning. Regardless of what they may assume or imply or infer from anything which has been said or written, past or present, specific ordination to an office in the priesthood is the way, and the only way, it has been or is now conferred….The priesthood ever and always is conferred by ordination by one who holds proper authority, and it is known to the Church that he has it. (Boyd K. Packer, “The Temple, the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1993, 18)

    I was a temple worker, and I was never ordained to an office in the priesthood. Therefore, by Pres. Packer’s definition, I as a female temple worker was not given the priesthood either by the endowment or the setting apart to perform ordinances in the temple. Whatever wonderful things I was able to participate in were not about me having the priesthood. I never received it, never was ordained to an office in the priesthood, and my name was never presented to the membership as one to be ordained in the priesthood.

    I think we need to be very careful about making assertions about women and priesthood that aren’t consistent with what is being taught by our leaders.

    And FWIW, I tend to fall along the lines of what Tatiana said in 47.

    Now if you will excuse me, I think I might need to go into hiding. :)

  165. Thanks, m&m. I am very hesitant to flesh out my view of the way that women are endowed through the Priesthood with power and authority therein (hence, my #98 and my careful and qualified #129), so I appreciate what you have shared.

  166. Are there accountants on the bloggernacle? Being accountants, I would think they would be more precise about their billable hours than the attorneys, and hence wouldn’t have the time.

  167. RE# 147
    Finally, that mission to Argentina is paying off for me. Why are you asking me at the end if you understand? How would I know if you understand?

    My point seems to have been missed. I only mean to say that I have read many posts on this blog that characterize polygamy as a real blunder. Bad for wives, kids, community, etc. What was JSJ thinking? But at the same time, because JSJ authorized women to give blessings then it must have been in line with the true gospel.

    I am NOT against women giving blessings! I am only against inconsistant standards for determining what is right. If your only arguement is that JSJ did it, well he also had a hand in polygamy. I have tried to read the post carefully, but maybe I missed something. Has a substantial arguement been made for this issue besides the historical fact that JSJ ordained a woman (or women) to give blessings?

  168. Ray,

    I meant to convey that I wrote post #163 as I felt inspired to write it, nothing else. But I don’t expect you to take my word for that anyway.

    These historians might have studied this 24/7 for 10 years but they still have the same problem I do…no answers. I’m apologize for taking so long to realize that in this place consensus and refraining from using any emphasis keyboard functions are far more important than any truth or answer ever will be.

    So in the spirit of consensus, let me say that I agree completely that historical non-answers are indisputably more valid and impressive than my pathetic and inane non-answers because of the sheer time and effort spent developing them.

    I also agree that any “active, dedicated, believing, temple recommend holding, leadership position serving member of the Church should completely discard the entire context of what I wrote in post #160 (along with every other word I’ve posted). Before they even get past the very first deceptive paragraph the Holy Ghost will prompt them to read my mind and discern my intent, and they will know (just like you do Ray) that the reason everyone is having a problem with me is because of my evil hidden agenda and thinly veiled self-righteousness.

    Now I don’t know if you meant to convey that, but it is hard to read your reply and not conclude that, wouldn’t you agree?

    Sleep well

  169. Abish, no I don’t agree. Not one thing you wrote in #168 addresses what I said – and every single paragraph contains hyperbolic and bitter sarcasm. I attempted, without a single bit of sarcasm – not one – to try to share why people are reacting the way they are reacting. I did so carefully and prayerfully and with a sincere effort to try to help you see the tone that was coming across in your comments. I failed; you took my sincere effort as sarcasm; I am sorry.

  170. Ann: Not more precise, just more boring. Accountants are no-nonsense, nose-to-the-grindstone types who know the value of every minute and thus refuse to squander much time on blogging. That, and their firms restrict their internet use to business-only sites.

  171. Somehow, I feel the big picture could be more apparent in this discussion. It is a given that early LDS women engaged in the practiced of blessing by the laying on of hands. Today it is rarely done but by urgent necessity. What I mean by big picture is God’s merciful timing for the benefit of his children.
    For example,Pentecostal outpourings of the Spirit occured at Nauvoo and Jerusalem in early church life. After Jerusalem, Paul in his letters counseled the saints to modify how they expressed the Spirit through the gift of tongues…Speak when the listeners will understand for the edification of all. Modern saints were thus counseled I believe while at Winter Quarters. The point is there are times and seasons for signs and revelations by means of the Holy Ghost gauged by the faithfulness of the saints and what will benefit God’s children the most. As in New Testament times manifestation of the gifts of Holy Ghost may come under some temperance for the edification of the Saints.

    With this in mind,the question is, why in our time has God regulated the practice of women laying on hands for the healing of the sick?
    One of the reasons that comes to mind is the problem of abusing the gift and it’s ramifications. Another is that the manifestation of the gift of healing by the Holy Ghost does not require laying on of hands. Consider that the regulation of men occurs before they are given the authority to do so by a worthiness interview and sustaining from the congregation.
    In the end the gifts of the Spirit among males and females is wide and varied. I think it is needful to improve upon our gifts without worrying too much about how someone else in another time did it. Personally, I beleive I have the gift of prophecy because many times I have known before what was going to happen prior to it’s occurance. I know that I must take care never abuse that. By patriarchal blessing my sister learned she has the gift of healing. I have seen her prayer of faith heal her husband. She did not lay her hands upon him. Let’s expand and improve our gifts for the edification of our families and fellow saints within the boundaries the Lord has set for our time!

  172. Wes:

    I have read many posts on this blog that characterize polygamy as a real blunder. Bad for wives, kids, community, etc. What was JSJ thinking?

    FWIW, I would not characterize polygamy that way, but I think you raise a valid point. My answer is that each act (or word) of any prophet has to be evaluated on its own terms, not in relation to other acts or words. For example, I believe the priesthood ban was a mistake instituted mainly by the prejudices of one prophet, Brigham Young; but I don’t believe that makes everything else that BY did a mistake. Obviously, he did many great things for the kingdom.

    Similarly, whether Joseph made other mistakes or not is irrelevant in evaluating his ordination of women. Unless there is some evidence (and, so far, I have seen none) indicating that such ordinations were a mistake, I assume they were valid and proper. Therefore, something happened between then and now to cause the current lack of such ordinations. What was that something? That seems to be the question posed by this post.

  173. Thomas Parkin says:

    “If we can’t insult the attorneys, what’s left?”

    Engineers, of course. But are there engineers on the bloggernacle? And why or why not?

    Wesley,

    I was asking kinda like do y’all agree wiff me. Mi padre fue a Argentina, tambien.

    I now know why Cormac McCarthy wrote so much unnecessary Spanish into his Swestern novels. He moved to El Paso, learned a bit, and suddenly found that he just couldn’t help hisself.

    ~

  174. Thomas Parkin says:

    Marcia,

    Amen to this: “I think it is needful to improve upon our gifts without worrying too much about how someone else in another time did it.” And most of the rest, too.

    ~

  175. “Has a substantial arguement been made for this issue besides the historical fact that JSJ ordained a woman (or women) to give blessings?”

    Wes, no “substantial arguement” or argument has been made because no one is advocating a policy change. We’re discussing a historical question, not steadying the ark. There’s a difference.

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