My feelings about not holding the priesthood (Part two of a million parts)

The other day I overheard a conversation between my six-year-old daughter and my mother-in-law. They had been talking about how her older brother would become a deacon later this year. My daughter said enthusiastically, “When I turn twelve, I’m going to pass the sacrament too!”

You should understand that one of this child’s favorite Sunday rituals has been taking the sacrament tray from the administering deacon and distributing it to the rest of the family; when she returns the tray to the deacon and sits back down, she has a big smile on her face and it’s clear that she feels she’s done something very grown-up and important. The written word is an imperfect medium; you’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s pretty freaking adorable. (Imagine your own kid and then multiply it by ten. That’s how cute my kid is.)

So imagine her disappointment when her grandmother informed her that passing the sacrament is a job only for boys. Crestfallen, and with that childish sense of entitlement, my daughter asked, “But what do I get when I turn twelve?”

It was probably good that Grandma was fielding these questions and not me. For one thing, I’m not sure I would have had the heart to disabuse her of the notion that she would someday be a deacon. I mean, she’s only six—she’s got a whole other six years to figure it out on her own, so why not let her have her dreams? (Of course, I’m the same mother who responded to my children’s first queries about where babies come from with “Magic.” When it comes to introducing my children to uncomfortable truths, I take procrastination to the HNL.)

I have an older daughter who became a feminist at a very young age—not unlike her mother. Unlike her mother, she has never hesitated to voice her opinion about anything that seems to her unfair. It was especially difficult for her to keep silent when this boy she considered a complete jerk was deemed worthy of ordination when she herself would forever be ineligible simply because she was female. My older daughter is a thoughtful, intelligent girl who occasionally resembles the archetypal shrill, humorless feminist. She has valid arguments, sure–but boy howdy, week in and week out? That shtick gets old. If she had demanded to know what she’d get when she turned twelve, I probably would have answered, “Jack crap, sister!” with a little too much relish.

But when my sweet-tempered, naïve six-year-old asked the question, it made me very sad.

Part of that sadness—maybe most of that sadness—was realizing that she hadn’t figured out on her own yet that only boys serve the sacrament; if she had noticed that only boys were doing it, she hadn’t attached any significance to that fact, until her grandmother informed her of its significance. Certainly I don’t blame Grandma for telling her the truth. But it does make me sad.

I realize that this anecdote plays perfectly into the argument that women who want the priesthood are confused about what the priesthood is for. It isn’t for enhancing your six-year-old’s self-esteem. It isn’t for making you feel special or better than others. It isn’t like joining a country club. It isn’t a legal right that you’re entitled to. It isn’t about you. I can honestly say that I myself have never felt a pang of jealousy watching twelve-year-old boys pass the sacrament. I have never particularly wanted the priesthood, per se.  I don’t entertain fantasies that my life would be so much different if only I had the priesthood. I think I have a more mature understanding of the purpose of the priesthood than my six-year-old does, but just like her, I can recognize it for the privilege that it is.

A few weeks ago we had the George Albert Smith lesson on the priesthood, which talked about the privilege of holding the priesthood.

“I wonder sometimes if as fathers we take pains to explain to our boys the seriousness of the obligation assumed when a boy becomes a deacon. I wonder if when the boy is ordained a deacon the father lets him feel that he has something now that is eternally important. …

“I remember, as if it were yesterday, when John Tingey placed his hands on my head and ordained me a deacon. I had the matter so presented to me and the importance of it, that I felt it was a great honor. The result was, it was a blessing to me, and then after awhile other ordinations came to me. But in each case the foundation was laid in my mind that here was an opportunity for another blessing.”

So yes, on the one hand we want to impress upon young men what a privilege and honor it is to hold the priesthood, while on the other hand we insist to our young women (and women of all ages) that it’s really no big deal. Seriously, ladies, you don’t want it. You shouldn’t want it. Nothing but trouble, that priesthood! And yet, very important. Without it our church would be nothing. Worse than nothing, a fraud. But at the same time, you aren’t missing out on anything. Trust us!

Can you see how that might accurately be described as a mixed message?

A long time ago I was talking to a friend who belonged to a non-denominational Christian church. We were talking about baptism. In her church, any member–i.e. any (real) Christian–can baptize another person into the church. She herself had baptized people. “Wow,” I said. “That must be cool.” She replied that it was a pretty great experience–not in the sense that it made her feel important, but in the sense that it gave her joy to play a role in someone else’s journey to Christ. Of course there are many roles to play in other people’s journeys, but this was the first time I can remember feeling curious about the experience of performing a sacred ritual. I’d been raised in a church where women just didn’t do those things, and I’d never really given it that much thought (although I’d thought about other gender-related issues quite a bit). But when I found out that my friend had baptized people, my reaction was “Wow.”

I suppose that it shouldn’t have been “Wow” because after all, she didn’t really have the authority to baptize people and she was baptizing them into the wrong church, so big whoop-de-do. But, you know, it was what it was.

Imagine that you’re at a dinner party and you turn to the stranger next to you and casually ask, “So what do you do?” and the person replies, “Oh, I’m an astronaut.” What other response could you possibly have but “Wow”? I mean, here’s a real person, right in front of you, a mere mortal, and they go to freaking space for a living. Space! That’s how it would be for me to meet a female priest. Because as a Mormon woman, I could do or be almost anything, in theory—a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, President of the United States…all I’d have to do is be a lot smarter and more talented. But to be a priest I’d have to go back in time and be born male, which is not just unlikely, but actually impossible. Do you see what I mean?

Of course, I should be overcome with astonishment and joy that the priesthood exists and God authorizes anyone to act on His behalf. (I think that was George Albert Smith’s point.) What’s remarkable and impressive is that the priesthood is on the earth today. I get that. I’m not a dummy. And I realize that what’s really impossible is for a woman to talk about how she feels about not holding the priesthood without sounding all whinypants about it—“oh, I can’t bless the sacrament and I feel so marginalized, waaaaaah”—so maybe there’s no point continuing in this vein.

I’m not going to argue that LDS women should be ordained to the priesthood. If I were, I promise you I’d bring more to the table than a couple of personal anecdotes and a handful of snide remarks. (So, yeah, you can bet on me not arguing for the ordination of women anytime in the near future.) Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of all my personal anecdotes, which arouse conflicting feelings within me. It’s not threatening when good men exercise their priesthood authority. I see a group of young men passing the sacrament or blessing the sacrament, and I think it’s a beautiful thing. I see a group of men huddled around a newborn or laying their hands on a newly-baptized member of the church, exercising this privilege of invoking God’s power on earth, and it stirs something in my heart. Not envy. Something else. Something good. I honestly don’t know if it would be the same if the group was co-ed. I have no basis for judgment, and honestly—honestly–I don’t spend much time fantasizing about it. (Perhaps I have no basis for fantasy either.)

All issues of institutional power aside (a whole other can of worms for a whole other blog post), I maintain that generally I don’t envy men their priesthood responsibilities—not because I fear the burden would crush me, but because I’ve always lived with the reality that it’s impossible for me to have the priesthood, and when last I was possessed by a desire for the impossible, I was mainly pre-occupied with unicorns. What troubles me is not that I don’t have the priesthood, or that my daughters won’t have it. What troubles me is this: Our young men serve in the church by performing their priesthood duties. By contrast, our young women serve in the church by…well, as near as I can figure, by dressing modestly. My question is not what my daughter “gets” when she turns twelve, but what will be asked of her? What messages will she get about her role in the church? In the universe? That’s what troubles me.

Comments

  1. Tell her she can be a physicist or cosmologist who explains the workings of the universe to certain priesthood holders who have no idea what they’re talking about. Barring that, she has my vote for president.

  2. This was wonderful and feels very relevant to my own feelings as I watch my small daughters. Thank you.

  3. wickadg says:

    You bring up a lot of good points. The other day my brother was saying how his 11 year old daughter at church turned to him and said, “Dad, why are boys better than girls?” She brought up the sacrament, priesthood, etc. He really didn’t have a good answer for her, other than that they definitely aren’t, and it’s been nagging on him.

    I think the issues that many see are that some things seem to be more administrative and procedural (ie – that’s just the way things are) while others might be doctrinal. For example, I can’t think of any reason why only a priesthood holder could be a Sunday School President, but that’s how things are done.

  4. Thank you for writing this. You’ve expressed much of what I would have written had I your talent and sparky personality! I have sons, and it was a dream of mine that they grow up to hold the priesthood. I also have a daughter. She was raised with the same answers to her questions that I received when I had questions as a young person. And on and on it goes.

    Terrifically awesome that you let your daughter “pass” the sacrament! I wonder if the blessings were canceled out, since she doesn’t hold the priesthood?

    What will be asked of our daughters? I hope the 9 year difference in the age of out daughters makes a difference for your daughter. I know that some people are more open, and are teaching that there are many worthy, wonderful ways to please Heavenly Father (and Mother). I wish it was taught more that loving God, loving yourself, and loving others is the way. I wish it was taught it is *who you are that is important, not *what you are. If she becomes a wife, becomes a mother, ….that is just what some people do, but it isn’t who they are. That is what the church teaches girls to do. If you don’t do that, you aren’t fulfilling your duty. If it doesn’t happen here, then… don’t worry Honey, be a good girl and it will happen in the next life. It is our only identity. If it doesn’t happen then we aren’t real yet.

    For those who don’t marry, don’t have children ( or who’s children leave the church), I wish it was taught that we are 100% whole for being a spiritual being, a child of God, and we don’t need to be anything more than our true, pure self to be pleasing to God.

  5. * our daughters. Oops.

  6. larryco_ says:

    My feelings about holding the priesthood – not necessarily positive and occasionally tramatic. Case in point: three consecutive blessings in which I participated resulted in the next-day death of a 2-year old, muscular dystrophy in a 28 year-old woman, and thyroid cancer in my wife. None of these ailments had been previously diagnosed and none were dealt with in the blessing. I found the experience personally shattering. As a member of my stake’s high council for 7 years I sat through gut-wrenching disciplinary councils that left me deeply sad for weeks. It should be noted that a high councilor does not participate in the decision-making directly and I truly believe that my stake president always leaned on the side of mercy whenever latitude was available, but that only partially negates the personal trauma/empathy that I felt. My favorite callings have always been those that require no priesthood per say, i.e. gospel doctrine instructor, Blazer B leader, etc.

    I can understand why anyone kept outside of something that they desire because of their gender would have deep concerns. I also realize that I’m just a wimp. I just thought I’d point out that holding the priesthood is not always sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows; and I, personally, would be perfectly content without it.

  7. I don’t want to hold the Priesthood because I personally would go mad with power and exercise unrighteous dominion all over people’s faces. It is just an unfortunate trait of my personality, so I stay away from “power” in any form. However, I do think ordaining women (at the very least, certain women) to the Priesthood would/could be both righteous and beneficial. Essentially my feelings have been summed up quite nicely by kate in her #4 comment. The “knowing” glances, the tap of the nose (TRUE STORY!) by those who think they know the intimate details of my life, the simpering placation of “wait until the next life” can be hard to bear at the best of times so I wish that anyone would stop having to suffer through it.

    larryco_(6) I am sensitive to your comment. What you have described would probably upset me as well because for me personally it would make me feel unworthy and as if I had tainted a person I was supposed to be blessing. I will not even accept a Priesthood blessing because I don’t feel I am worthy and do not want to sully said Priesthood holder. I can also see how it would be hard to sit through some disciplinary hearings and hear awful, gut-upsetting feelings about someone or worse yet, someone you know. However, I don’t think (or at least I hope they don’t) that anyone thinks the Priesthood is rainbows and lollipops. With great power comes great responsibility, and I think that there are some excellent women who could/would exercise such power and authority as to bless The Church as a whole merely because they have it. When Barb gave Bill a blessing in the series finale of Big Love it was amazingly spiritual.

  8. Thanks Rebecca J for your wonderful post. Kate #4, loved your comments. Many thoughts and feelings….I’ll apologize in advance for the length. One of my friends told me that her daughters baptize each other while they’re taking baths and in the swimming pool all the time! She was more concerned about the sacrilege of repeating the words and never once mentioned anything about them being female.

    I was a primary teacher and whenever a boy was leaving primary, the primary presidency would spend a long time talking about how exciting it was that he was going to be getting the priesthood, how special this was, etc. When a girl would leave primary they sang the goodbye song and said essentially–good luck and we’ll miss you! Nothing exciting to look forward to for you!

    An ongoing issue I seem to struggle with is that the service of the priesthood holders are very showy. The bishopric is on the stand weekly, the ym are at the sacrament table and front pews for passing the sacrament. We watch them over a 6 year period every week and we acknowledge their b-days every 2 years as they advance in the priesthood. I remember a specific instance in which a ym was being presented for advancement and they mentioned it happened to be his 14th b-day that very day. All day long I heard ward members expressing birthday greetings to him. Another mother, whose daughter happened to have been born on the same day, ran around saying, ‘Brittanie’s 14 today too’! Over and over. No acknowledgement of the fact that she was advancing to Mia Maids, no acknowledgement it was her birthday.

    I have endured enough scout meetings where they keep telling us that whenever we can, the boys should be given pats on the backs, applauded, lauded for good deeds, etc. I’ve sat through enough YW lessons to know that the girls are constantly told that service should be done in secret, our reward is in heaven, etc. It is such a different set of rules. Boys are born and we applaud, go to scouts and do corny plays and jokes for the entire family and we applaud, serve and pass the sacrament and are thanked by the bishop and constantly before the eyes of the entire congregation where we acknowledge their service. We watch them grow from boys to men, acknowledging their birthdays every two years. Then when they get their mission calls, we applaud. (And in the old days devoted an entire sacrament meeting and open house to them–both as they leave and when they return.) Then they often marry and are called into bishoprics and sit on the stand and we see and acknowledge their service and silently applaud. When a boy stays true and active in the church and has a testimony and serves faithfully into adulthood, I say that the programs of the church helped make it possible. When a girl does the same thing, I say she does it in spite of the programs of the church. Girls disappear into the pews and then turn to outside sources for acknowledgment and sometimes are lost forever. We simply MUST do a better job of acknowledging all the wonderful things a YW does! (And afer reading Kate’s #4 comment, applauding who she is!) I have to stop because I’m all worked up now…

  9. Antonio Parr says:

    Rebecca J writes:

    ~~Our young men serve in the church by performing their priesthood duties. By contrast, our young women serve in the church by…well, as near as I can figure, by dressing modestly. My question is not what my daughter “gets” when she turns twelve, but what will be asked of her? What messages will she get about her role in the church? In the universe? That’s what troubles me. ~~

    Young women and young men are both called to perform works of love: visiting the aged, comforting the lonely; encouraging those suffering from physical and mental illness; offering hope to those who feel hopeless.

    I don’t mean to minimize the dynamics set forth in your very well-written post, but the aforementioned works of love are, according to Jesus, the most important role to which we are all called. In that sense, the field is ripe and ready to harvest, that matters most, and you and I and those who read BCC and those who don’t, and our daughters and our sons, can all seek to live lives doing good “to the least of these” in our midst.

    With that notion in mind, i.e., the notion of a life dedicated to the least of these, D&C 4 takes on new meaning:

    1 Now behold, a amarvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

    2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

    3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

    4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

    5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

    6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

    7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.

    This is a challenge worthy of my daughters and my son, as well as their mother and father.

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    Great post, Rebecca.

  11. Antonio: you mention not wanting to minimize the dynamics set forth in the post, which seems to indicate you realize you are so minimizing. I don’t think anything this post says suggests that the “weightier matters” are less important than holding the priesthood itself. No doubt anyone, including non-priesthood holders and non-Mormons, can visit the aged, comfort the lonely, encourage the suffering, etc. as you said, and anyone who so desires is always called to that work. But I think your comment actually downplays the power of the priesthood itself. Why have the priesthood at all if we’re all already equal in terms of being invited to bless the lives of others? The priesthood is often understood in the Church today as a calling to serve, with admonition to be worthy of its power. It has become a way to initiate young men into structured acts of service, to facilitate the learning of ordinance administration, and later, hierarchical decision-making. There quite frankly are great opportunities afforded to priesthood holders that aren’t afforded to non-priesthood holders. Simply saying “look at all the stuff you can do” can easily operate to restrict, not broaden, horizons.

  12. I don’t want my son to have more recognition. I really want him to have less. I want my sons and my daughters to get used to getting their affirmation from God.public accolades are way to fickle and way to frequently wrong in what they emphasize (grown adult men who can throw a ball through a hoop anyone?) I feel like scouts in some ways works horribly into the natural tendency we all have to seek recognition.

    I feel the recognition and all the horrible hoops for scouting can actually harm love of learning in a young man. He is told so much what to do and there is so much trouble surrounding all of the actual interesting learning that the relief felt at being done can be too often connected with the learning. The merit badge may be done…but learning isn’t. YW is much smoother in this regard. The projects are much more their choice and much less stupid red tape to deal with. A boy finishes he eagle knowing he CAN do a project like that but that he never wants to again. My girl have both finished their personal progress and have great interest in doing similar projects again.

    I wish boys were given more attention in practical training. Every man is going to need to know how to cook and take care of himself. There is great self confidence to be found in the accomplishment of practical skills . I cover this at home…but I wish the YM would as well.

    I struggle with feeling useless at times because I don’t have the priesthood (like the last time I went to be with my children to do baptisms-my husband was eagerly greeted and shuffled around as per need and I was shown a pew—I had to be proactive and knew of ways I could help and offered–I frequently feel like a place holder with sealings-I’m welcome because I bring a man with me). People do like to feel needed.

    Service is critical. It is a great skill to be able to see needs and look for ways to serve. I think we teach this to girls much better than we teach it to boys.

    My girls have definitely felt that their leaders work hard to prepare things for them. My son has definitely felt that his leaders frequently slouch and throw things together at the last minute with little preparation.

    The disparity in budget in this ward is too huge for me to ignore.

  13. Why have the priesthood at all if we’re all already equal in terms of being invited to bless the lives of others?

    Realizing the truth of this observation has been a large factor in how my own relationship with Mormonism has changed over the years, Blair, not the least reason for which being that we have four daughters, and so far all of them have questions pretty much exactly like Rebecca’s have. (Speaking of which–great post, Rebecca,)

  14. larryco_ says:

    “However, I don’t think (or at least I hope they don’t) that anyone thinks the Priesthood is rainbows and lollipops.”

    EOR: The sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows comment was just my silly way of lightening up my rather depressing comments (or a tribute to Leslie Gore). And you are right. I was terribly afraid to participate in any blessings for many years even though I have always felt that it is all up to the Lord anyway.

  15. isolatedmormonwoman says:

    I’m not a regular on here, and I’m not isolated because of the priesthood (either positively or negatively), but I want to thank you for this article. I am sending this link to one of my daughters.

  16. isolatedmormonwoman says:

    And, #9, most of us who are mature recognize the truth of what you quote. Little boys and girls aren’t generally able to wrap their minds around the Doctrine & Covenants.

  17. Perhaps the biggest effect on me is that I feel nothing when my son (currently a Teacher) is ordained to the offices in the Aaronic priesthood. So many people seem to get terribly excited about the ordination of our YM. I remember being called in to see the eldest of my brothers (younger than me) being ordained a deacon during the priesthood meeting. Why the fuss, I thought? With my son’s ordinations, my parents have been invited to attend, so that my father as well as DH can participate, but I feel no joy, no excitement. It’s just what happens. And it won’t be happening for my daughter who recently turned twelve.

    I ask myself only now, is this how I have dealt with it? Perhaps I should be feeling angry. Angry because the Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God, and that the ordination of anyone ought to be a cause of celebration. Angry because we seem to have trivialised it, whilst at the same time denying it to particular groups.

  18. Antonio Parr says:

    My comments were in response to Rebecca’s concern about her daughter’s role in the Church, and, presumably, the guidance that she should give to her daughter with respect to that role. I was moved by Rebecca’s observations, hence my responsive post.

    As parents, we have the capacity to help lay spiritual foundations for our children, and can choose between focusing on priesthood vs. non-priesthood or on the universal call to serve. The Church is a powerful vehicle of discipleship, and there are always individuals available in our community of faith to serve (not to mention the legions outside of our community of faith). It seems to me that a focus on the call to serve will empower both our daughters and our sons, and help avoid some of the discomfort described by Rebecca.

    (The best and holiest times of my life were the rare occasions where I truly lost myself in the service of others. The palpable presence of Christ in those moments was beautiful and profound, and this is what I wish for my daughters and son. CAVEAT: Buechner wrote that Christians are either heroes or pigs, and I am far more piggish than heroic. That being said, I recognize the transformational power of Christ, and believe that the joy that I have found in both priesthood and non-priesthood service is indistinguishable from the joy that my wife has found in her non-priesthood service.)

  19. Antonio Parr says:

    BHodges:

    You raise valid points, most of which deserve a more studied response than I am able to provide. That being said, in my home, my wife and I have tried to take the “universal call to serve” approach to Christian discipleship, and have not focused on priesthood vs. non-priesthood responsibilities. We talk about Christ as much as we can, and read stories from His life, and then discuss with our children what those stories mean in our lives. Those discussions always lead to the two great commandments. We don’t talk about “son = priesthood” and “daughters = no priesthood”, which may be a failure of orthodoxy on our part, but, nevertheless, is what we feel best about as we try to share our faith with our children.

  20. Beautifully done! My oldest daughter asked the question at about age eight. My other daughter never asked it, that I recall, but became inactive around age twenty. This wasn’t the issue, as far as I know, but I can’t say whether or not it contributed to her distancing from the church.

  21. #6 larryco, I’m sorry for the suffering of those experiences. Those sound like incredibly difficult situations. Thank you for opening up to us.

  22. Forgive me if I am wrong because it’s been a while, but I think at least one of the reasons they announce in sacrament meeting that YM have moved up is because it is an ordination to a new office of the AP and must be approved by common consent of the ward members, isn’t that right?

    By the by since scouting was mentioned earlier, if I ever have a boy I am not putting him in scouts.

  23. This was really a great post. I’m not personally bothered by not having the priesthood either, I agree that the essence of the gospel is service, and I think we do both men and women a disservice when we set up a cult of personality around PH leaders (or any leaders, for that matter – have you seen the way women treat their stake leaders?) I also agree that we (and once again, like budgets and so many other things, it’s largely geographical) fawn over boys and ignore girls. The reason, I think (and again, it’s not fair), is that we lose so many more boys than girls during that period of time. The solution, IMHO, is to quit fawning over them. What makes people committed is service and personal experience and I think we subvert that when we make priesthood about visible things. On the flip side, in our area boys are called on just as often as girls (I know, because I have 5 in the youth program of both genders) to do stuff for people, and it is always in that doing that they come home most happy and I regularly volunteer them for it. Regarding SS presidencies, I’ve asked a few times in different places and been told that it’s frankly a calling to help a marginally active man have a responsibility. I’ve also asked why women who spend long weeks with their children are called for their formative women-bonding years into Primary and been told that it’s because they’re best at it. I think the subtle undercurrent is that “most men work all week and don’t have time for consuming callings.” This seems a matter of educating local leadership to have higher expectations of men, IMO. To me, the priesthood isn’t the issue; it’s our expectations of men and women from their teen years forward.

  24. Antonio Parr #9, I love your framing of D&C 4, I’m going to have to use that in the future.

  25. rameumptom says:

    Rebecca, as always such a poignant, yet balanced, approach to issues. As a man holding the priesthood, I can in a fashion understand what it is like to wonder “wow!” at things I am unable to do that others can. I guess life is full of such issues for all of us, and in the Church it is very apparent for women regarding performing ordinances.
    I think the Church is beginning to make inroads on giving more opportunity for sisters to serve and grow, and I hope they will continue to increase. Some positions in church are given to the priesthood are done solely due to tradition (Sunday School President, or assistant clerk, for example). I hope that someday those positions will be opened up for sisters to enjoy, until the Lord sees fit to provide more priesthood to sisters.

  26. Being male, I recognize I am treading on sacred ground here in a place I mostly don’t belong. Thank you for hearing me, if you do.

    I have both sons and daughters, and I greatly need the perspective you shared here, Rebecca. Our ward is not afflicted with some of the disparities in recognition and budget some have mentioned; still, I can’t say that we don’t have room for improvement in how we deal with the rites of passage that are so important to humans as they grow. We have a very high percentage of sisters serve missions, and that helps – essentially the differences in recognition stop at twenty. But we could do more. We must do more.

    Having been Elders Quorum president followed by nursery leader and choir director, I’ve begun to suspect that the priesthood allows men something to do. With few exceptions, in my experience, wards are dominated by women to such a degree that they would exclude men entirely from leadership positions if they could. Outside the church, civic organizations are heavily female; nearly EXCLUSIVELY female if there isn’t any glory in it (you get men in politics, but usually not for the right reasons). Church callings are excruciating, and call for skill sets far more suited to women than men, in the main. I know my wife would have organized the EQ much better than I would have. Practically any woman would have. I’m grateful I had the chance to do it, because I won’t get another.

    I watch my good sons struggle in our small ward with doing all the work that can be done only by the priesthood, and I know they would gladly not have it, but then, why would anyone call them at all? The YW are omnicapable. If someone needed workers other than for manual labor, they’d be better off with one of them. I know. I have this in my house. I don’t ask the boys when the girls will do. They’re just better.

    My wife is every bit the lead in spiritual matters that I am, and my children see that it is WE who exercise the priesthood here. I give the blessings, but then, I cut the lawn, too. It’s my role by virtue of my having certain skills. But the blessings are jointly agreed on, without exception. I lead out no more on FHE or other spiritual things than she does. We think that’s important. It’s absolutely true, though, that having a slouchy priesthood holder that has to be dragged into leading out is epidemic in the church (we are admonished constantly in priesthood meetings about it), and again, if we did not have the priesthood, who would bother? Mom can do it. Mom can do anything.

    If it is the priesthood of God, then WE don’t deny anyone anything. HE does. I think He has a plan, and I think it’s likely to be a good one. I’m just glad I have a little part in it.

  27. Yup yup yup. When my daughter first started talking about getting baptized, I asked her who she wanted to do it, and she told me that I should. I understand–she has only ever seen baptisms performed by parents and I am her parent that brings her to Church. I am worthy and endowed and even know the words! I just don’t have a good answer for her for why that plan won’t work.

  28. I’ll argue that women should be ordained to the priesthood: Women should be ordained to the priesthood. Bam. Argued.

  29. Chris @ #26 nailed it. Excellent post, and excellent comments.

  30. Dave Frandin says:

    Kate: Your statement “For those who don’t marry, don’t have children ( or who’s children leave the church), I wish it was taught that we are 100% whole for being a spiritual being, a child of God, and we don’t need to be anything more than our true, pure self to be pleasing to God.”

    I, too, wish this were true.. I was born into the Church, baptised at 8, was active in the Church up until I made a fatal error at 19 years old. I DID NOT LISTEN to my father… I was going to Jr College, and decided to wait to register for the following semester in late August vs doing it immediately at the close of the spring semester. My dad told me to get down and register or I’d wind up drafted in the Army (this was 1969, after all, the draft was still alive and well).. Stupid me paid no attention to him, and guess what?? By early August, I got the summons.. My bishop had been talking to me about going on a mission, being that I was, at that time, a Priest and eligible to be ordained an Elder. Of course, since I reported for induction on Sept 24, 1969, this threw a monkey wrench into a mission.. To make a long story short, due to there being no readily available LDS services during boot camp and advanced training, I got out of the habit of going to Church, and since I wound up getting sent to Vietnam in March 1970, where, by this time, I hardly bothered even looking for LDS services, I wound up picking up all the usual vices of the military, drinking, smoking, even a bit of pot. I wound up serving in the Army for a bit over 8 years, and when I got out, I was so far out of the habit of living the WOW and going to Church that I never even went to back to my old ward when I finally got out. Since I’d trained in electronics in the Army, a friend got me an interview for a large defense contractor, and I wound up getting the job, which lasted until a big layoff in 1986. Since I’d always liked the new upcoming personal computers, I managed to get a job repairing them, and have been doing that all the rest of my life.
    I met my future wife in 1983, and we were married in 1985. In 2010, I lost my job of over 13 years due to physical problems, and became very depressed. Apparently as my wife tells it, a pair of Mormon missionaries came by our house, and she, knowing I was raised Mormon, invited them in.. It had been nearly 40 years since I’d felt the Spirit like I did with those men in our house. During those 40 years, I’d felt a lump in my throat everytime I heard the MoTab, or heard the Church’s name mentioned, but until I was in very bad straights, I’d never felt the Spirit so close..
    My wife was raised Catholic, but when she recieved the lessons, she was baptised in Jan 2011. We now are working hard for me to overcome 40 years of bad habits, frequent profane language, and become worthy to go to the Temple.

    Kate: the section of your quote that grabs me the most is the “Don’t have children”.. We decided early on in our marriage to not have any children, but now that I go to Church regularly and see the happy families with the adorable children, I realize we made a horrible mistake. I hope its one we can repent of…

    Sorry to make this so long.. I just felt the need to tell how I feel about your statement, and give a bit of background on a daily reader of this blog…

    Dave

  31. Raymond says:

    Sorry, Chris. I don’t buy it. Whatever prodding men may need to perform service and whatever natural inclination women may have to serve, I’m skeptical that this generalization explains why all men can hold the priesthood and all women cannot.

  32. Rechabite says:

    I was one of those little girls too. I have had sacrament envy my whole life. Still do.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    This post reminded me of an old post of mine: http://bycommonconsent.com/2008/07/13/stephanie-passing-the-sacrament/

  34. Antonio Parr says:

    Dave:

    Blessings to you and your wife on your journey. I am glad that you have found joy in your return to the Church.

    God bless us all, everyone.

  35. Chris Kimball says:

    Thanks for the post. This is hard hard stuff. It makes me hurt. I remember standing in a circle to give an infant a name and a blessing, where the infant’s mother was a single parent recent convert not fully Mormon-practice conversant, who brought her son forward with the expectation that she would hold him in the circle. “We” (in memory it feels like all me, ugh) took her son and pushed her away. I determined at that moment “never again” for me.

    But it is complicated. My daughter found a better place in a different church where she was later married, the service performed by a woman who was the minister at the time, and where her daughter was recently blessed by both parents and the minister. My wife performs priesthood ordinances in a Mormon temple (quibble with the words if you like, but that’s what it sounds like and feels like). And I stepped out of the priesthood circle, with no intention of returning . . . except . . . when my sister, knowing my feelings and history, asked me point blank to participate in blessing her child . . . except . . .when a member of the Stake Presidency who knew me reasonably well invited me to join him in ordaining my oldest son to the Melchizedek Priesthood, in a private ceremony (three men including my son) in our home.

    No easy answers.

  36. CS Eric says:

    Part of me wonders whether the problem isn’t so much that women can’t have the priesthood and more that it is almost automatic for men. If is is such a privilege, why is it that it seems like the only qualifications for a boy to be ordained a deacon is that he has male genitalia and is twelve years old. Shouldn’t it be harder than that? The church has recently “raised the bar” for being a missionary. Why not raise the bar for the priesthood itself? It seems like it is harder to get baptised as a convert than it is to be ordained a deacon. Is that the way it should be?

    That is also one difference between scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood. It seems like any boy who keeps having birthdays automatically moves up from deacon to teacher to priest. Scouts isn’t like that–you have to show some kind of iniative and minimum competence to advance in scouting.

  37. Sacrament envy is something odd… I always dread it before I had the chance to, dreaded it when I had the responsibility to do it, and even up until recently would often look the other way when I knew a YM was searching out someone to help out because he had a shortage of YM.

    To the original poster, I think you make some good claims, with sincere feelings. What I’d be interested to read is your best effort to examine the situation from the perspective of how Sister Beck or Elder Oaks, etc. might view the issue. It’s one thing to make good arguments in favor of what we are emotionally and philosophically inclined toward, but another to show you understand the position of those who are “ok” with things as they are. Can any dissenter marshal of a sincere and faithful argument and make an article out of it? Without resorting to snark, bitter asides, etc. ie. something you really feel could be delivered in a conference session.

    That’s something I’d like to read because it would demonstrate clear thinking and understanding on both sides of the issue, and give more weight to the fact that you come down in favor of the feelings reflected in the current post.

  38. Antonio Parr (18) – I would certainly prefer a focus on the call to serve than what we have now, which is young men being called to serve and young women being brought before the congregation every two years to announce that they’ll be going to a different class on Sunday (a practice I can only surmise is a very weird attempt to compensate for the fact that young women aren’t called to serve).

    I am not remotely concerned that young women don’t get enough “recognition” or that young men get too much. What’s important about young men being ordained to the priesthood is not that they get recognized for serving but that they have a clearly defined role to play in the church. Young women do not, and in theory this doesn’t necessarily matter, but in practice we tend to relegate them to a role of standing there looking lovely and “virtuous.” Young men bless the sacrament and young women organize modesty fashion shows. It’s kind of messed up.

  39. Rebecca, that point got illustrated last Sunday as the missionaries were teaching my 16-year-old daughter’s recently baptized boyfriend (a source of great consternation for me). The missionaries were explaining the various priesthood offices to him … “when a YM turns 12, he’s ordained to the Aaronic priesthood and made a deacon — deacons pass the sacrament, collected fast offerings… ” Then he asked my daughters what they did.
    “Nothing. We just go into YW in the beehive class.”
    “Okay, so when a YM turns 14, he becomes a teacher. They prepare the sacrament, usher at the chapel doors, and start hometeaching. When the YW become 14, they…?” cuing my daugher.
    “Nothing. We just become Miamaids.”
    “And when a YM turns 16, he can bless the sacrament and even baptize people. And the YW?”
    “Nothing. It seems like we just don’t do anything. We just become Laurels”

    Kind of painful.

  40. I remember modesty fashion shows. They were so terrible and awkward and boring. I don’t think I could ever inflict them on my child. Worse yet is the YW activity where they cook dinner for the YM and serve it to them as well.

    I am starting to have a panic attack about having children. I don’t want sons with undeserved senses of entitlement, and I don’t want daughters wit undeserved body and self-esteem issues.

  41. Oh, and they just had the modesty fashion show two nights ago.

  42. kaphor (37) – I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re asking. It may be the head cold, but I just don’t know what you mean by “show you understand the position of those who are “ok” with things as they are.” I’m going to need you to be more specific. I think I do understand the position of those who are okay with things as they are. I think their position is that the church has been organized according to what God has revealed to prophets. I myself am not prepared to dissent from that position. Personally, I’m agnostic on the issue of women’s ordination; I’m not convinced it’s necessary, and I’m not convinced it’s unnecessary. But I certainly don’t imagine that my personal feelings constitute some meaningful revelation on behalf of the church, so…I don’t know. Is my discomfort with some of our rhetoric and some of our curriculum a form of dissent? Because I honestly don’t know what Sis. Beck or Elder Oaks would have to say about my specific concerns. Maybe they’d agree with me. This is the stuff that doesn’t get talked about in General Conference. Most of what gets discussed in General Conference is pretty comfy by design.

  43. Peter LLC says:

    Speaking of modesty fashion shows, check out the Sideblog.

  44. Antonio Parr says:

    Rebecca:

    I am a convert to the Church, and, perhaps for that reason, am not overly concerned about roles in the Church. My role as a Christian is to love God and love my brother and sister, and the rest seems like an accoutrement. My wife and I and our children are all involved in our communities, schools, etc., and Church service is just another way in which we try to fulfill the two great commands.

    Granted, I live outside the Utah corridor, and perhaps my exposure to some of the cultural concerns referenced in this discussion are buffered by the relatively small number of Latter-Day Saints in my community.

    Your second to last sentence in the prior post raises legitimate concerns that should be addressed, i.e., limiting young women to organizing modesty fashion shows. While I am grateful beyond words for the LDS Church’s emphasis on modesty (I am pained by the sexualization/objectification of young girls in our culture, and believe that the LDS emphasis on modesty is inspired), there is much more to being a Christian than just being modest (and, in fact, an exclusive emphasis on modesty can indavertently objectify our daughters, which is a cruel irony, indeed). Our daughters should be challenged, as should our sons, to contemplate and act upon great ideas to serve God and to serve our brothers and sisters, and believe that there is ample room in the Church for this to happen.

    I appreciate your post and all the responsive comments.

  45. themormonbrit says:

    The denial of the priesthood to women is just something we do. I don’t think it’s really defensible or justifiable (without resorting to: “God wants it that way for some reason”, which, however true it may be, isn’t very satisfying). It’s just something we do, in the same way that denying blacks the priesthood was just something we did. It’s fine to speculate, but the desperation of searching for an answer that works can sometimes lead to harmful ideas (like “black people were less valiant in the pre-existence”). The fact is, it’s just something we do. The next question is why we do it. I hate to disappoint anyone, but my best guess is that mormons are just generally scared to change anything (that’s not meant to sound derogatory, by the way). We have this idea that because this is the way the church was when we were brought up, and this is the true church, this must therefore be the right way to do things.
    In actual fact, I think denying women the priesthood is just an old tradition that stems from the patriarchal culture of the 19th century and the rhetoric of early church leaders. As far as I know, it’s simply a matter of policy that has been passed down to each new generation of church leaders to deal with. It isn’t really defensible, and as far as I am aware, it isn’t scriptural. It’s just something we do.

  46. @raymond, I’m not offering THE explanation for why God set it up this way. I don’t know it. I’d be rather surprised if God’s intention here were searchable by me. I’m neither good enough nor intelligent enough to know the reasons God does anything, and He’s been pretty clear about that. But giving men a role to play seems to me to be one reason He might do it this way.

    What I am sure of is that God DID set it up this way. I understand those that have a problem with that, and I encourage them to take it up with the owner of the priesthood. Which is not President Monson or the Bishop, and surely not any of us. Either it’s God’s priesthood and He’s the one that makes the rules, or it’s not, in which case why would anyone care?

  47. Rebecca,
    “I honestly don’t know what Sis. Beck or Elder Oaks would have to say about my specific…”

    It’s my belief that while they (or any GA) would likely say some things different as the Spirit enlightens their mind based on what the know and have experiences, they would also have a lot of similarities in principle.

    I think it’s entirely possible, through studying the scriptures, studying and taking seriously the words of the leaders of the church and seeking to know them through the spirit that you can come to an understanding of what the Lord would say through them (unless the ardent position is actually they have deviated from the Lord, which I don’t believe is what is being said in this case).

    Maybe that’s crazy talk… but I think it’s possible to write a post that you imagine could be given by a prophet to the sincere question from a little (or grown) girl who says, “What do I get to do since I don’t have the priesthood…. and also addressing, why don’t I have the priesthood”.

    If you’re not up for it because it doesn’t interest you, that’s fine, but I do think it would be helpful to write it and especially for your readers to see you clearly understand both sides of the issue. Because this post runs the risk of demonstrate you don’t understand the “classical” faithful responses to this issue… even though I actually don’t think that’s the case. But it would be all too easy for your sincere words to be rejected as being whiny, etc. In a similar vein, I appreciated reading some sincere praise and positive review on this blog based on a talk Pres Packer gave in Conference awhile back… it was especially helpful because so many people criticize him online, that it helped to see people could understand him and speak charitably of him.

    I guess on this issue, which is dear to a lot of faithful people in the church, we get a lot of snark in dealing with the traditional responses, which don’t reflect a lot of thought on the issue (that my or may not be there). It certainly would help to convince or set the tone and lend some “faithful weighting” for others who might be inclined to see this post as “fighting words”.

  48. Antonio Parr,
    While your comment was addressed to Rebecca, I’m not sure I follow. What does being a convert to the church have to do with it? This comes up a lot (from other commenters as well), that somehow being a convert or not negates concerns with the status quo. How does that follow?

  49. Antonio Parr says:

    mmiles: It means that I lived a part of my life where I was defined by something other than Church activity, and that my ongoing identity is not derived solely from the roles that I am asked to fulfill in Church. I have a sense that some whose lives are more closely intertwined in the culture of the Church have a harder time distinguishing between who they are and what they are asked to do in Church.

  50. Chris Jones-you’ve set up a false dichotomy in your #46. On such foundations are the worship of a false god built. God may make the rules but men have an endless capacity to pervert them for their own purp

  51. While that may be true of some people, that’s an unfair assumption to make about Rebecca. You are in essence saying that people who struggle with these things just don’t get it, like you do. And you are assuming people would see it like you do if they got it, and if they don’t, it must be that they can’t divide who they are from church function. Pretty unfair, don’t you think?

  52. Antonio Parr says:

    mmiles:

    Huh?

    I haven’t made a single assumption about Rebecca, other than (a) she seems like an extraordinarly sincere person who loves her daughters and wants what is best for them; and (b) she is trying to figure things out, as is the case for most of us.

    I am not indicting people who struggle, since I am one of those people. What I am saying is that, in my personal experience, focusing on the two great commands has helped me stabilize my spiritual life and become less burdened by things that might otherwise detract from those two great commands.

  53. Peter LLC says:

    He’s the one that makes the rules

    As in, “11. Thou shalt not ordain women to the priesthood”?

  54. Excellent post. I agree with the Rebecca J. and Bonnie
    “To me, the priesthood isn’t the issue; it’s our expectations of men and women from their teen years forward.”

    Over the last thirty years, the focus for women in the church has shifted from service to self-reflection. YW focus on themselves in their “Personal Progress” program. Likewise, the RS has shifted from a millenialistic and world-changing ‘Relief Society’ to a introspective organization which serves itself and the sisters. The RS Declaration is a document about the development of individuals “me, me, me”, and only provides a small hat tip to service and good works, which in context could be read to be applied primarily to one’s own family and self. http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,160-1-12-1,00.html According to the RS Declaration, most RS activities, the YW Theme, and the Personal Progress Program, from the time a female is 12 until the time she dies, she will focus on herself, in preparation (I assume) for action. While perfecting the saints is an important basis for outreach, ‘true religion’ can only be practiced in context- ie within the church and community. One might actually argue that true personal development can only be attained through service and action. Mmmm. Seems like we might be stuck in a roundabout and can’t get off.

    Here’s a proposal I’ve thrown around on the bloggernacle:

    Let’s remodeling the visiting teaching program after the home teaching program by integrating YW ages 12-18 as VT ‘companions’. Let’s engage the YW in service! Let’s ask them to draw upon the powers of heaven and upon faith to serve those around them. Not only would this build a bridge to RS (as opposed to the current cliff), but YW could learn a lot about testimonies, service, families, mothering, children, college, work and life as they began talking with and serving older women and families. The ‘Personal Progress’ program could then be renamed and revamped to include a more articulated role for women engaged in the gospel. It’s a start!

    Just a thought.

  55. Antonio Parr (44) – Our daughters should be challenged, as should our sons, to contemplate and act upon great ideas to serve God and to serve our brothers and sisters, and believe that there is ample room in the Church for this to happen.

    I agree.

    Chris Jones (46) – Either it’s God’s priesthood and He’s the one that makes the rules, or it’s not, in which case why would anyone care?

    I can’t argue with that. I’m also not inclined to argue with it. I may be less certain that God intends the priesthood to be male-only, but I don’t reject that premise. Until I’m convinced otherwise, I go on the assumption that it is what he intends, at least for this time and place. (And maybe forever–I don’t know!) But I notice that it presents some problems–problems I actually believe can be resolved within the current framework, if we’re allowed to talk about the problems without people automatically assuming that we want to tell God his business. To ordain women to the priesthood would take a revelation a la 1978, and to say I don’t expect that is…an understatement. But we don’t need a big fat revelation to change destructive rhetoric or curriculum or policies. Some things we can work out amongst ourselves with mere divine guidance, as opposed to divine intervention.

  56. What I am saying is that, in my personal experience, focusing on the two great commands has helped me stabilize my spiritual life and become less burdened by things that might otherwise detract from those two great commands.

    Maybe part of your efforts to fulfill the second of the two great commandments could include hoping for and helping bring about a more fulfilling Church experience for your daughters and others, no? In other words, I don’t understand exactly why you think your comments are somehow contradicting what the OP is asking for.

  57. Lovely article Rebecca.

    I am the father of four daughters and unsure what I will tell them when the question gets asked. The temptation will be there to inform them that many of the “priesthood activities” they observe the young men do actually don’t require the priesthood. Perhaps I will pull up William Hartley’s article and explain that once upon a time even the boys weren’t trusted with this responsibility. I’m certain it will be hard not to observe that the Prophet, Heber J. Grant, himself stated that:

    There is “no rule in the Church” that only priesthood bearers
    could carry the sacrament to the congregation after it was blessed. While it was “custom” for priesthood men or boys to pass around the bread and water, he said, “it would in no wise invalidate the ordinance” if some “worthy young brethren lacking priesthood performed it in the absence of ordained boys” and he had “no objection” if it were done.

    Or explain that preparing the sacrament table and collecting fast offerings have been the domain of the women in the Church.

    I think they need to understand that things as they currently are evolved under the direction of the Church leadership over decades of exploration. It’s important in my mind, to help them understand what it means to sustain the Prophet and Quorum of the 12 as prophets, seers, and revelators. But they also should appreciate that our is a Church of revelation where the status quo could change tomorrow. Ultimately, I think they should develop with the expectation that priesthood or not, I will admire and encourage them to pursue acts of service and love, just as the Savior performed, in their own unique ways.

  58. Antonio Parr says:

    BHodges:

    But I do hope for, and hope that my efforts are bringing about, a more fulfilling Church experience for my daughters. I also hope for, and hope that my efforts are bringing about, a more fulfilling extra-Church experience for my daughters. I hope that they are finding joy in fuflilling the great commands in their Church service and in their service outside of the Church.

    I am not trying to contradict Rebecca’s post. I found it moving, enough so that I have spent time this morning responding to it, and hope that her sentiments will inspire me to be a better father to my fantastic daughters.

    I happen to be at peace with the male-only Priesthood of Mormonism. That being said, I am not not now nor would I ever be at peace with cultural practices that did not challenge my daughters to think great thoughts or open avenues of meaningful creativity or provide opportunities to carry out great works of love.

  59. Mommie Dearest says:

    Great OPost, and the comments are so…sensible, and relatively calm! I wonder if we are maturing a little, that we can discuss a hot-button topic without having incendiary comments?

    I don’t have time just now to articulate the rest of my thoughts; I have a minor VT emergency this morning. I just would like to second, third, and fourth the motion that YW need to be doing actual “adult” service. If my daughter had activity of this kind perhaps she would still be involved in the church today. Sitting passively in a class twice a week receiving lectures on celestial dating/marriage/motherhood didn’t create in her the desire for more of that.

  60. Rebecca J, love your perspective and delivery, as always.

    I don’t know why women don’t have the priesthood – is it just because Joseph Smith never asked if they could? It doesn’t really make logical sense to me that it has to be a man performing these ordinances and I’m sure your daughter is absolutely adorable doing her part for her family.

    Personally, I think women should be involved in baby blessings. Not necessarily the blessing part, but the supporting part. This would potentially calm the baby somewhat, and, honestly, what would it hurt? I asked the bishop what priesthood function was being done by those in the circle and he said “moral support.” Can women not do that?

  61. Saguaro says:

    Whever possible our Bishop makes the effort to recognize the girls when they advance in the YW program. When they turn 12 they are asked to come up in Sacrament meeting and the bishop hands them their Primary certificate and recognizes the fact they are moving on to the YW program, at 14 and 16 their names are announced in Sacrament meeting and they are asked to stand up and be recognized. It’s not quite the same as the boys as they advance in the priesthood and a sustaining vote is taken, but it’s better than nothing.

  62. Joseph McKnight says:

    ChrisJ @ #26 comment, I just can’t even begin to express how I can’t relate to what you’re saying. My experience seems to be so very different from what you describe. I have 2 sons and 3 daughters and a wonderful wife. We all have varying talents and interests and specialties. I’ve known fabulous men who served as Ward Activites Chairs, as well as fabulous women in the same callings. I myself loved being nursery leader (with my wife, who held the title, but we served together), I loved being the Primary chorister, twice, funnest thing in the world. I have a natural quality of nurturing young children (and gosh, I’m a man) and my wife doesn’t, but she was great at relating to our teenage kids of both genders, who drove me crazy, except for #5 daughter who as a teenager didn’t get along with my wife at all. I just don’t see the world full of “wonderful” women that you do, I see lots of women who are power-hungry and mean, and lots of men with the same characteristics. But, I also see lots of men with nurturing instincts and lots of women with good administrative skills and instincts. So, I just don’t understand where you’re coming from. Women are wonderful, yes, but they don’t naturally have “more” of anything. Why can’t our spiritual gifts be the determining factor for where we serve? It doesn’t take “priesthood” to do anything, it takes power from God, and that comes from God’s spiritual gifts to each of us, which are all different. Gosh, I just don’t understand.

  63. wreddyornot says:

    Thank you for you posing and thoughts. I enjoyed reading it and the people’s entries who have responded.

    For a long time, I thought that if the women/girls don’t care about having the priesthood, why should I worry about it. Then I matured (some might characterize it more pejoratively), considered a wider perspective, learning that my premise was flawed and that some women/girls do want it.

    I gave prayerful consideration to the issue and other similar issues and decided it didn’t matter what women/girls who didn’t want it thought so much to me. I was a child of god, characterized in the Church as a child of Heavenly Parents. The system in place — a Father who does all the talking, all the ostensible creating, all the apparent communicating and directing, at least relative to me, over against an absent Mother wasn’t right.

    Over against your daughter in your posting who wanted to know about passing the sacrament, as a son who is well over sixty-years-old I want to understand: Where is my Heavenly Mother? Why does it seem to me that she is mistreated in all of this? Why does my impression that women are treated as less-thans in the Church seem so apparent to me? Why does it seem confirmed in my prayerful seeking of answers that something needs to be changed?

  64. YvonneS says:

    Rebecca I was captivated by the lively and interesting way you dealt with this topic. Being the grandmother of some11 girls I have given the possibility that I might every be confronted with this question not one moments thought. However I keep thinking about the scene in the movie The Princes Bride where the man in black tells Inigo Montoya to get used to disappointment. Inigo shrugs and says kay. It is never to early to learn that difference doesn’t mean inferiority, that life is not fair and disappointment is something everyone must live with.

  65. Stephanie says:

    Great post, Rebecca. It honestly never occurred to me that men and women in the church were different until I went to the temple. Boys having the priesthood didn’t bother me. I guess I had enough going on that I just didn’t notice the difference. But, after I went through the temple, I saw everything with a whole new set of eyes.

    I wonder why noone prepared me for that. All of my family was watching me like a hawk in the temple. They knew what was coming and weren’t terribly surprised by my reaction. But why did they not tell me beforehand? Why didn’t they talk about it afterward? It kind of reminds me of waiting to see if your daughter will notice the differences. Why do we wait to see? Maybe it is because it doesn’t bother some people? But what of those who it does bother?

    And yet I have a daughter and don’t really know what to tell her. I don’t have any answers. So I will likely do the same. I wish I had more to offer.

  66. kaphor,
    I’ve written the post you’re looking for, just now. It’s pretty short. In fact, I’m going to put the whole thing in this comment. It goes like this:
    “All is well in Zion”

  67. LilyTiger says:

    This post reminds me of an experience I had watching the October 2010 General Conference. Elder Perry gave a talk on the Aaronic Priesthood and said, “Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, I testify to you that the Lord is bound by solemn covenant to bless your lives according to your faithfulness. If you will heed the voice of warning of the Holy Ghost and will follow His direction, you will be blessed with the ministering of angels.” It was a beautiful talk, but I couldn’t help wondering how many Young Women were thinking, “What about me? Do I get angels? Why am I not promised angels?”

  68. You don’t want angels – keep you up all night repeating themselves, and the feathers are harder to get off than glitter ;)

  69. charlene says:

    There are two commenters I’d like to respond to:
    #22 EOR – does anyone have an answer regarding whether advancement in the Aaronic priesthood needs to be approved by commont consent of the ward members? I’ve quit raising my arm to this aggreement because I figure since I’m not a member of the quorum what right do I have to vote on this ordination.

    #36 CS Eric – i absolutely agree with you that a major part of the issue is the automaticness of the advancement. I don’t see how achieving the age of 12, 14 or 16 really qualifies for much of anything.

  70. #38 & #61 This recognition of girls moving up every two years, is this church-wide or stake/ward specific? I have been in wards that do it and those that don’t so it doesn’t seem to be a consistent pattern.

    My current ward does it but there is always an awkward moment after the bishopric member announces it and no one knows what to do and then he says, “Just wanted you to be aware of that”. I turn to my husband and snarkily comment “Now please feel free to ignore her again for the next two years” My husband gets it and nods knowingly.

    My brother-in-law is a bishop and he knows how I feel and made a point of telling me that they have called in their ward YW to serve as sacrament meeting choristers (2 that alternate), organists (all the YW who play alternate) and for the non-musical girls, they rotate putting up the hymn numbers in that wood thingie. (sorry, don’t know the official name of it) He says that after the sacrament is passed, the bishopric member stands and thanks the YW & YM for their service. I am a fan of this and think it’s a step in the right direction.

  71. JAT # 54
    You are brilliant! Let the yw get out there and make a real difference! Let the youth (male and female !) see what really needs to be done, and let them make a real difference. Now, while they are young. I think it is extremely important to help youth feel genuinely useful, and worthy to help God do his work. Doesn’t God need them? Isn’t there work that even struggling youth can do to feel needed?
    Many great comments here.
    Thank you all who take time to post. I love that people are talking!

  72. I just wanted to remind everyone of our BINGO game card, which can really come in handy in conversations like this.

  73. Rosalynde says:

    Self-promotion: I wrote about this very topic at Patheos a few months ago, and included several concrete suggestions for ways that YW can serve the congregation in equivalent ways with the YM.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CFkQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.patheos.com%2FMormon%2FWeird-Old-Tip-for-Young-Women-Leaders-Rosalynde-Welch-04-04-2012.html&ei=n9vHT5yqKKad2QWLiOSrCw&usg=AFQjCNGSrncjbst4BSGMNWCJKPrjn9VJOA

  74. #61 – Sounds like your good Bishop is trying to follow the counsel in Handbook 2 (10.3.1)

    “The bishop and his counselors recognize each young woman in sacrament meeting when she advances from Primary to Young Women, when she advances to a new age-group, and when she receives the Young Womanhood Recognition. When a young woman advances to a new age-group, a member of the bishopric gives her a certificate.”

  75. J. Stapley says:

    Great stuff, RJ.

  76. Rosalynde (73), I remember that piece at Patheos. It was excellent. Everyone should read it. Everyone, go read it.

  77. I am in agreement with some others here that Priesthood ordination (and advancement) should be based on worthiness, not genitalia and age.

  78. kaphor (47) – Thank you for clarifying your earlier comment. I understand your question now. Initially I was going to deny that I “wasn’t interested” in writing an imaginary response from a prophet or apostle to the question “why don’t I have the priesthood,” but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I really am uninterested–because the prophets and apostles have already given their answer, which is that women don’t need to have the priesthood and not having the priesthood does not mean that they are inferior to men or less entitled to personal revelation or unable to serve in the church. I think I’m on board with all of those things. I accept that I can’t get a specific explanation for all of the things I don’t understand. (If I didn’t accept that, I don’t think I could remain in the church. Or perhaps I would spontaneously combust. Fortunately it hasn’t come to that.)

    I don’t think what an apostle or prophet (or even a General Relief Society President) would say in General Conference constitutes “the other side” for me. The difference between a General Conference talk and this blog post is not a particular position on the topic. It’s that a General Conference talk would answer the question indirectly, by testifying of general truths, and I am specifically addressing particular questions that I persist in having despite my acceptance of these general truths that the apostles and prophets have already explained to me. I know I don’t need to hold the priesthood to receive the blessings of the priesthood. I know that not holding the priesthood doesn’t make me inferior to men. I know that I can receive personal revelation. I know that I can serve others in meaningful ways. It doesn’t stop me from noticing the problematic aspects of a male-only priesthood. I think I’ve said this already, so forgive me for repeating myself, but noticing the problematic aspects isn’t the same as thinking that the church’s organizational system must be wrong. I think we can deal with the problematic aspects without necessarily changing the church’s policy on ordaining women. I don’t think we can deal with the problematic aspects by not acknowledging them. Maybe the correct response to noticing problematic aspects is to ignore them until Jesus returns, but then I wouldn’t have anything to blog about.

    Maybe you or someone else could help me out here: If an apostle gave a talk called “Why Women Don’t Have the Priesthood,” what would he say? Something substantively different than what I’ve described here?

  79. #78 Rebecca J said, “Maybe the correct response to noticing problematic aspects is to ignore them until Jesus returns, but then I wouldn’t have anything to blog about.”

    My prediction is that the day of your millioneth post on the priesthood, Christ will return and say, “All you had to do was ask”!

  80. Wonderful post, Rebecca.

    I remember teaching seminary to some youth in one of my wards, and one of the YW, a recent convert, raised her hand and asked, “I can’t remember…. Who gets to hold the priesthood?”

    My feminist awakening was still fresh in my mind (I did not have the precocious awareness of Rebecca’s kids), and the question was like a sock in the gut. I actually lost my breath. And I was very aware that the other seminary teacher, a pretty orthodox man, was in the room as well. After about a two-second delay, I answered, “Men.”

    It is a question that just sucks. And an answer that just sucks. But in retrospect, I was actually glad that she had asked the question. There were many other YW converts who never DID ask, never DID question why they were excluded. And it made me really sad about our society that they wouldn’t even think twice about this automatic exclusion from leadership and participation in sacred rites on the basis of gender.

    Big bummer.

  81. Great post, great comments, Rebecca never disappoints!

    You said, “But I notice that it presents some problems–problems I actually believe can be resolved within the current framework, if we’re allowed to talk about the problems without people automatically assuming that we want to tell God his business. To ordain women to the priesthood would take a revelation a la 1978, and to say I don’t expect that is…an understatement. But we don’t need a big fat revelation to change destructive rhetoric or curriculum or policies. Some things we can work out amongst ourselves with mere divine guidance, as opposed to divine intervention.”

    Sorry, don’t know how to put it in the quote box. You hit the nail on the head with that one! Growing up Jewish, YM as well as YM had important and exclusive coming of age rituals and rites. We need the same for the YW. Not for them to “get” anything, but to acknowledge their growth and development. That acknowledgement needs to include specific and perhaps exclusive duties. Do you need to hold the Priesthood in order to be an usher, conduct a meeting, take charge of an activity? And no, I’m not suggesting we put the YW in charge of clean-up, and child-care duties.

    And what do you tell your vibrant six year old her role is in the Church, in the universe? First, she needn’t DO anything to have value, she was born with it, it is so important our youth understand that their value in infinite regardless of their actions. They are who they are, the creations of Deity, valuable enough to be brought into existance. Second, her role is to change and improve what needs changing and improving. To educate herself, speak up, and question while maintaining her hard-earned faith. Her role is to be her best self, while helping others be their best selves.

    I had to accompany my 7 year old boy to his primary class. (He is “high maintenance”). The lesson was on the Priesthood (just my luck!) and was being taught by a recent convert whose husband isn’t a member (why do we DO that to new converts?) She did an excellent job. But for the first time in my life I noticed the little girls just weren’t buying that the little boys sitting next to them (or climbing the walls, as the case may be) would be allowed to pass and bless the sacrament, baptize, confirm and give blessings but they and their mothers couldn’t. They wanted to know why, and this lovely sister teaching them was at a complete loss. even the boys were confused as to why their good mothers couldnt participate. I’ve been to a lot of primary classes and Priesthood lessons, but I’ve never heard children so young express so plainly the disparity. To make matters even MORE uncomfortable, she then had to explain to her own daughter why her father couldn’t baptize and confirm his own daughter. Yes, awkward, unfair, sad.

  82. Mommie Dearest says:

    In order for the theoretical YW growth and development activities to have similar value as the ones we currently have in place for Aaronic priesthood YM, there would need to be something that adult women do as common and visible as adult male priesthood administration. As in, something for the young women to be developing toward.

    Just sayin’.

  83. Mommie Dearest (82) I agree. In my ward, I can’t think of anything that the Relief Society does. Even when we have joint lessons with the Priesthood, not only do they Preside, and Conduct, but they also give the lesson! I wonder how the YW must feel to see us and know that that is their fate from 18 until death.

  84. #83 EOR said, “Even when we have joint lessons with the Priesthood, not only do they Preside, and Conduct, but they also give the lesson!”

    This is changing in some parts. In my ward, our RS presidency is in charge of teaching the combined RS/PH lesson the 5th Sunday in July. Of course we are waiting to see what the topic the bishopric feels our ward members most need to be taught, but then we’ll decide which member of our presidency would be best suited for addressing that topic. There have been times where they tell us to teach whatever we feel the group needs to hear. We are hoping this is the case in July because we have been teaching the “Daughters in my Kingdom” book chapter by chapter to our RS sisters and would love to teach at least a general overview to the PH as well!

    On a side note, I am teaching Chapter 5 of DIMK this Sunday for the lesson. Included in this chapter is a section where Pres Louise Y. Robison, 7th General RS Pres, states her inadequacies when Heber J. Grant calls her to this position. I look forward to a day when the sisters (and brethren) know the RS history well enough that when a lesson is taught in SS about Moses or Enoch and their expressions of inadequacies when called to the work, someone will raise their hand and say, “Their stories remind me of Louise Robison when she was called to be RS general president and she expressed some similar inadequacies but went forward in faith anyway.”

  85. Justtryingtoliveright says:

    I am in the field of psychology… But you don’t need a psychology degree to recognize that most women are different from men ;) I would hope that you would agree that the reality of the situation is that we, as latter day saints, are not really given clear description of our heavenly parents from above. And I believe it is near impossible to settle this internal conflict without understand the divine roles that women play throughout eternity. Men have a pretty good idea put out on the table for them in regards to their significance and existence in heaven. When we read scripture we do not read much about our mother in heaven. Or any women who has gone on before for that matter. As a man, I try to get the same answers a women may desire (only to better speak to my sweet daughter regarding her significance as a women on this earth). I have found that, not only on this particular issue, the answers to our questions given to us from our Heavenly Father some times do not come. It is unfortunate that this particular issue pushes so many LDS people away (not only females) when it seems that the issue is so easily remedied by the Lord telling his Prophet to give us the answers we seek. As I have read it seems the common theme of these posts are “It is incredible to see the glorious blessings that these young men get, so why would I have to explain to my daughter how she is inelligible to carry those special burdens or responsibilities that would give her these special blessings.” Most of the common answers to this question place significance on the women’s physical obligation in bearing/and caring for children. It is quite impossible to say that as a man I envy childbirth. But the reality is I will never be able to give birth to a child. I feel that someone will respond to that particular statement by saying, “Childbirth and the abligation to hold the Priesthood are two different things” which they are, but it may be that they are more connected than we understand. There may be more significance to why women do not hold the priesthood than we can truly see. There may be good (eternal) cause to why we do not read or hear much about women in heaven. I am not sure on those answers, but I am sure about the Gospel, which makes this topic a faith loaded/trying question. Do you really believe Heavenly Father would only give men the responsibility to hold the priesthood? If the two conflicting beliefs are an issue, the rlds religion is basically the exact structure of LDS, besides the women holding the priesthood. I understand the frustration and possible resentment that comes from this topic, but I also understand that resentment springs from jealousy and lack of understanding. I am not claiming to understand nor claiming to know the answer, but I do feel that once we involve the “why not women?” perspective instead of perhaps “why men?” just as I may think “why was it made that childbirth was not obligated to man?” when rather the true question is, “why was childhirth obligated to women?” I hope that I get respectful responses. I do not wish to offend but simply put in my thoughts on the issue. Women are incredible beings. My wife and daughter are my greatest joy on this earth and I am grateful to be apart of our little family. However difficult some questions may be, the Gospel has given us joy in our posterity and within our marriage. :)

  86. Kristine says:

    “I understand the frustration and possible resentment that comes from this topic, but I also understand that resentment springs from jealousy and lack of understanding”

    No. Righteous indignation is an appropriate response to injustice. Characterizing it as “frustration and resentment” grounded in selfish “jealousy” compounds the injury.

  87. #85
    I would recommend you read the discussions on Rebecca’s posts here and here to understand just how aggravating your response is, if you haven’t already done so.

  88. Oops hyperlinks lost. The one titled “Some random thoughts about Relief Society” and the other “Why I don’t like the priesthood-motherhood analogy: Part one of a million parts”.

  89. Fletcher says:

    #85.
    I would also recommend the use of the “Enter” or “Return” key in creating separate paragraphs. It would make reading your frustrating comment less frustrating.

  90. A short lesson for Justtryingtoliveright on his cluelessness:

    1. Literally billions of women have given birth without meeting any worthiness standard whatsoever. What does that say about the equivalence of priesthood and motherhood?

    2. Untold thousands of women who are members of the Church and who are at least as worthy of heaven’s blessings as are their male counterparts are unable to be mothers, either through infertility or the lack of opportunity to form worthy marriages. What does that say about the equivalence of priesthood and motherhood?

    3. Men are not restricted from the priesthood through bodily infirmity; they are not restricted from the priesthood through anyone else’s exercise of free agency (i.e., declining to marry them); they are not restricted from the priesthood in this life with their pain brushed aside with a casual and thoughtless “Mortality isn’t all there is — wait until the next life when, if you are faithful in this world, you will receive and exercise the priesthood.” What does that say about the equivalence of priesthood and motherhood?

    When you “feel that someone will respond to that particular statement by saying, ‘Childbirth and the abligation to hold the Priesthood are two different things’,” that’s a vestige of decency and the light of Christ that’s trying to tell you not to make such a foolish assertion, no matter how often the assertion has been previously made, nor by whom.

  91. Rebecca J.–I just have to say how much I enjoyed this post. It makes me think, feel, sympathize, and recommit to standing for right. I also think it’s a great post to introduce the topic to people who are new to the blogging scene and hopefully provide an education and/or understanding to those who haven’t yet considered another perspective that might actually expand their worldview (ie: #85 justtryingtoliveright).

  92. Ardis, your #90 is a thing of beauty.

  93. Ardis, #90. Yes. Thank you. Extremely well-said.

  94. Mommie Dearest says:

    Just to set the record straight, I am not at all jealous of the men I see ordained to administer the priesthood of God. I love them, I admire their struggles, I sustain them to the best of my ability as a mortal woman, and I have never in my life asked “why men?” because it’s obvious everywhere “why them.” What I ask is “why not women too?” and I am more or less patiently waiting to find the authoritative answer to that question. Even after the sweet, “humble,” clueless, mansplaining smack in the face of #85.

  95. Ardis, FTW.

  96. Well, it was bound to happen. Someone would ignorantly state that there is no reason for angst, someone else would feel the need to smack him down, and off we would go on the tertiary path of “equality.” I think equality is a great thing, and since we have a just God, I think it’s an eventual thing, “equal” in importance with a lot of other wonderful things, like humility, compassion, hard work, honesty, etc. But I also think that just as our lives have periods of conscious imbalance, so does mortality. Nobody is at all up in arms about the inequality of goods/resources people suffer in life, but that seems to be an inequality that the Lord has a lot more to say about and it has a whole lot more effect on the experience each of his children have here in mortality. God’s response to those who are poor is that they accept their lot and don’t revile (even though he says more to the rich about sharing their goods than anything else) – and we accept that as well in our society, maintaining classes. But for some reason, other inequalities get our dander up. As much as this is going to get rocks thrown at me, I wonder why priesthood is a more important equality than food. I’m not saying that every conversation has to be about charity, but if the Lord’s response to the poor was to be humble in their unequal treatment, it would seem that that would apply to us as women as well, because the bigger danger is the unruly energy of righteous indignation. Ah well. I really enjoyed the productive conversation of the OP and the comments about useful changes.

  97. Ardis…love it. thanks. Nothing like a little logic poured onto a slop of “harmless” cultural justifications.

  98. I relate to Rebecca J’s take on this issue. Not holding the priesthood has never particularly bothered me, even though I consider myself fairly liberal for a Mormon and have my share of doctrine/policy gripes. But I do get frustrated with the condescending non-doctrinal motherhood explanations that are trotted out to make girls and women feel better about their position in the Church, which of course lead, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to placing most/all our focus on attracting men (modestly but sexily!) so that we can have children so that we can be more than an interesting footnote in this life. I appreciate the Church’s efforts to communicate the great worth of unmarried and childless women ever more clearly and frequently, but it takes a long long time for that to trickle down to ward and heart level.

    And I agree that the imbalance in the institutional roles outlined for the genders, particularly the YW and YM, cries out to be adjusted. I’m glad to hear that a revision of the YW teaching materials is in the pipeline. I loved the old Personal Progress program because it focused quite a bit on crafts and cooking, both of which I happened to love, but even at the time I noted how one-note much of it seemed and how much it frustrated my more progressive girlfriends and leaders.

    My personal opinion is that one day endowed women will hold the priesthood again in the institutional sense–be authorized, if not ordained, to give blessings of healing and comfort, perhaps more. Whether God is waiting for the right time or for the right quality of pleading (a la Pres. Kimball 1978?), I don’t pretend to know. I’m not really looking forward to it on a personal level–I’m constantly trying to think of ways to do something just bad enough to get myself barred from difficult callings for the rest of my life, but not so bad to get myself excommunicated–but I find the idea of female priesthood theologically satisfying: first last, last first (will Eve’s obedience contract be revoked or even reversed?); restoration of all things; modern temple ritual and ancient and modern Church history hinting at what the fullest fulness will look like when God deems us ready. I tend to think that that God will deem us ready when we start pleading for this change in order to bless the Church/world in some critical way, and not in order to establish equal privilege or honor. But I sorta hope it won’t happen in my lifetime. My ambivalence on this parallels my feelings about the idea of living the Law of Consecration formally as a church: I think it’s a beautiful principle and would accomplish great good in the world and is a perfectly reasonable demand of a covenant people….but am not particularly excited about the ramifications in my life.

  99. And yet you felt no need to contribute to the productive part of the conversation, and only joined when you felt like expressing your disapproval. How inspirational!

  100. Comment #23, Ardis.

  101. Ardis, which comment are you referring to? Just to be clear…..

  102. A few people have already responded quite well to #85, justtrying, but there’s another point he made which hasn’t received direct attention yet, which I think deserves some attention. He said:

    Men have a pretty good idea put out on the table for them in regards to their significance and existence in heaven. When we read scripture we do not read much about our mother in heaven. Or any women who has gone on before for that matter.

    As one of the Mormon men you’re referring to, I’d just like to point out that I personally don’t think there’s a “pretty good idea out on the table” in regards to our “significance and existence in heaven” if “pretty good idea” includes specific, concrete functions. In the scriptures we get a lot of metaphor, mansions, bosom of Abraham, etc. We get some occluded language about eternal lives, continuing of seeds, and today we hear a lot about simply being with our families. Joseph Smith talked a lot about continuing to learn, generally. There’s also older speculations about world-building, though these things aren’t emphasized any more. Ed Decker capitalized off of the idea that the eternities would consist of a man with a bunch of wives birthing spirit babies for all eternity in his “Godmakers” film, but it seems to me we don’t talk about birthing spirit babies much anymore. But I know there are some women who feel pain about the idea that they would be assigned to some man for eternity to share him sexually with a bunch of other women, and to be pregnant in some way throughout eternity. This is a vision of the future, in my view, that not only bothers some of the women in the church, but some of the men, too. And I think our scriptures allow for differing views on this question. But oftentimes we stop thinking about such things, thinking we’ve got “a pretty good idea put on the table” for what awaits, not realizing that the scriptures leave a good deal of mystery in the balance. Also, of course I agree that we don’t really read about our mother in heaven, but my point is that the next stage is somewhat ambiguous for guys as well. The shifting sealing policies sort of confound the problem.

    Above all, though, notice how the assumptions on eternity dictate the concerns of the present in regards to priesthood, and I reckon the concerns of the present also affect assumptions on eternity. I think there is a bit of danger in thinking we’ve got it all figured out already.

  103. Bonnie, Jacob — who reminds me of her not especially coherent earlier comment. I stand corrected.

  104. pa·tri·arch·y/ˈpātrēˌärkē/
    Noun:

    A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
    ————————————–
    None of the Mormon women of my acquaintance require their husbands’ permission to speak. Most are married to men who range from pretty good to great. A very small minority are married to asshats. You’d probably find that in any group. That said, Mormon women need the permission from a male leader to change or implement new ideas in whatever calling she may hold and is required to acquiesce to his wishes for any organization she may head in the Church. Now, in many institutions, someone is a leader and makes the final decisions. That’s fine. The point is that in the Mormon faith (and other patriarchies like it), a woman NEVER has the final say within the Church politic without her male leader’s approval. She cannot hold the priesthood. This means she cannot baptize her children, bless them, perform weddings, bless the sacrament, officiate meetings of a mixed audience (men and women), be an ecclesiastic leader over men, hold interviews with men, handle money matters within the congregation, etc. If she vocally protests against the system (i.e., “makes a stink”), she is excommunicated.

    When I asked a Mormon friend why she was okay with this, she answered:

    “You asked, this is my answer. Guidelines and orderly division of labor are not oppressive unless the person is upset at not getting their own way. And guess what? Every single general authority (and many others) in my church gives absolute credit to their lovely wives~ their strong, spiritual, talented, courageous, beautiful wives~ who help guide them, uplift them, inspire them and strengthen them in the jobs they are doing. When they are wrestling with a decision, they turn to their wives for counsel and then turn to God.”

    This was my tongue-in-cheek (but still very serious) response to her:

    “A hundred years ago women were fighting for the right to vote. The status quo held that they couldn’t vote, so in order to affect change, they needed wide support. Including support from women who were disinclined to vote. I’m wondering how your comments would look in that context: “You asked [why I'm okay with women not voting], this is my answer. Guidelines and orderly division of labor are not oppressive unless the person is upset at not getting [to vote]. And guess what? Every single general authority (and many others) in my church gives absolute credit to their lovely wives~ their strong, spiritual, talented, courageous, beautiful wives [who are not voting]~ who help guide them, uplift them, inspire them and strengthen them [when they go to the voting booth]. When they are wrestling with a decision [in how to vote], they turn to their wives for counsel and then turn to God.”

    So yes, clearly its beneficial for women to not vote. Their men take their opinion into account, after all, and the women are a guide and influence to them. In addition, by not worrying about issues it frees up her time to be a better mother, wife, and server in her community. For the suffragists to insist that women are subjugated against by not having the right to vote is an insult to those of us who don’t want to vote. Women in this country are not at all oppressed. In fact, they are more liberated and honored than ever.”

  105. Bonnie,
    Poor people being hungry or even expressing indignation at the injustice of their poverty is not the same as reviling. The existence if inequality in sustenance is, in fact, cause for great concern among prophets and highly offensive to God. Further, if women were systematically, through overt rules and regulations, kept in malnourished poverty, and then told that it was inappropriate, unseemly, unfeminine, prideful, or otherwise unrighteous for them to desire sustenance, your analogy might hold up.

  106. #85 for “Sharp intake of breath (mansplaining)” comment of the week.

  107. Ardis (#90)
    I agree with you. I don’t think the childbirth/priesthood equation adds up, but wanted to respond to a few of your points because they were thought-provoking and interesting. I’m going to play devil’s advocate for moment.

    1.”Women give birth w/o worthiness standards, therefore it is not equivalent with the priesthood.”

    Let’s face it, the standards for priesthood ordination aren’t a citadel. In ancient Israel and in the BoM, priesthood was a birthright, not an ‘earned’ privilege. Today, men are given the priesthood mainly because of cultural protocol. True discernment is set aside for the standard interview questions. Sadly, I’ve observed once or twice, extremely unworthy men officiate in priesthood offices, and the church hasn’t crumbled. I’d argue that 99% of the time, humans aren’t righteous enough to truly wield the power of God (priesthood or parenting). Wasn’t it just a few years ago at a general leadership meeting, that the brethren admonished the audience (comprised completely of ward and stake leaders- no general members) against adultery and pornography? God, for whatever reason, works through imperfect mortals and the priesthood isn’t necessarily constrained by the failings and shortcomings of the stewards. I’m aware of the clause in the PH oath and covenant, ‘ . . . amen to the priesthood of that man’, but in my personal observances, God is a mysterious umpire who makes the calls on a case-by-case basis. Often, the needs and faith of the other saint(s) involved outweigh and supersede clumsy and ineffectual priesthood use.

    2. True, many faithful women never receive children, but many faithful men are never afforded the opportunity to receive the priesthood. To me, worthiness and access to both parenting and the priesthood aren’t ‘fair’.

    3. I’d argue that the exercise of free agency denies/restricts men from the priesthood. In the early days of the church excommunications and dis-fellowships were more common and for very minor infractions. Often this was due to a leader’s admonishment, not an official church court process. Today, instances of the priesthood being denied or restricted is often the product of unrighteous dominion or social strife. It exists. The stories of some adult Aaronic Priesthood men and those over looked for ordination as high priests can sometimes point to the fact that although desires and worthiness were there, the opportunity was not extended. Exceptionalities or not, no man receives the priesthood without the actions of another.

  108. The existence if inequality in sustenance is, in fact, cause for great concern among prophets and highly offensive to God.

    Brad got to it. I second the “WTH?” in response to Bonnie’s comment that God evidently wants us to be satisfied with the fact that there are poor among us, rather than inviting us to do what’s in our power to resolve things.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/11/11/enough-and-to-spare-as-an-indictment/

  109. You make a good point, Brad. I’m thinking of Alma’s discussion with the poor Zoramites. As a poverty alleviation practitioner, I find it frankly … troubling. I may know that the reality of getting food to people is more important than dogmatic discussions with the people who enforce those inequalities, and a whole lot more effective, but the activist within has a hard time just working under the radar in silence. Alma goes into an eloquent discussion of faith, seeming to imply that it is absolutely crucial that the underprivileged focus on eternal things over the problems of their present. How does life change if one does that? I struggle with that. Digital media is a very unpredictable thing (especially for we stupid, poorly-spoken folk) and the sense of searching and hoping for solutions may not come through. I have a lot of questions about poverty, and women, and other things, that I keep trying to balance against a consistent message from the scriptures that it’s better to turn the other cheek, find a way to pay ridiculous taxes, pray for our burdens to be lighter, and measure our grace in the trial rather than to respond with any level of indignation.

    As a negotiator, I know that nothing is accomplished as long as people are angry or sarcastic, holding to their beliefs that the other is “other.” Perhaps that is why the scriptures keep telling me to cool it and hope for eternity, because it keeps me at the table trying to find a solution. I’ve recommended this discussion to a lot of people in several private forums who are watching this unfold and discussing it. They would not comment here for a variety of reasons, some of which include getting their heads taken off for expressing a divergent view. (I on the other hand lived with an abusive spouse, so everything here is tame after having someone try to kill you.) I suppose I felt the negotiator’s nervousness when the discussion turned away from discussing solutions to personal sarcasm because that is when people started leaving.

  110. Bonnie, #114: Perhaps that is why the scriptures keep telling me to cool it and hope for eternity, because it keeps me at the table trying to find a solution.

    I think there’s a problem with simply looking forward to eternity as opposed to working in the present. The Book of Mormon is obviously more stark on this than later JS revelations (which I won’t go into here) but it suggests today is the day to do our labor, right? Telling the poor to look forward to a happy eternity is the primary reason Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses,” and it’s actually a criticism I think we shouldn’t take lightly. Our scriptures more often call for us to work in the now, it seems to me, than encouraging only hope in the future.

  111. BHodges: YES! the statement that there is enough and to spare IS an indictment against us. What is God saying, then, when he spends so much time on HOW we respond to inequality? I’m genuinely searching. It defines my entire conversation with God, which, if I spend much time with his final willingness to say something, ANYTHING to Job, was to tell him to chill his boots because HE was in control. You are SO right that we are encouraged to work in the present, to do many things of our own free will and choice. I’m trying to feel out HOW to do that, so I fall back on the realities of negotiation, and the primary concern of keeping everyone at the table and wonder if that is the reason we are counseled so incredibly often toward restraint. I don’t know.

  112. JAT (112). Thanks for engaging. My response:

    1. My comment was intended to address the present and the recent past, not a distant antiquity when priesthood was restricted to one narrow sliver of those who knew and worshiped God; not a period of apostasy when the priesthood was not on the earth; and not even especially during the early years of this dispensation when men had no access to the priesthood because it hadn’t been carried to their corners of the world. (Yet, note that during all of those eras, women went on having babies — reinforcing the non-equivalence of priesthood and motherhood.) Even if you want to take the (cynical!) view that receipt of the priesthood by members of the Church today is a mere social practice, a right of passage, I think you have to admit that there is still a vast difference between motherhood and priesthood: A man has to pass a bare minimum scrutiny of worthiness — he has to come to Church occasionally, he has to know what are the correct answers to give in an interview, and he can’t be opening practicing some of the behaviors that many women who give birth display (prostitutes? drug abusers? women who abandon infants or abuse older children?) I maintain that there are some minimal standards for receipt of the priesthood that are totally absent as a prerequisite to motherhood.

    2. I don’t know what men you may be speaking of here. What men cannot receive the priesthood if they pass the minimal standards for its receipt?

    3. Again, I’m speaking about today, not a brief period in the early Church where practices and understanding were still being worked out. Excommunication at that time was just as easily and quickly cured as it was imposed, often by a simple apology. Excommunication need not be a life sentence, nor even an extended sentence, today. There are appeals. There are repentance and rebaptism. And I really do not understand your remark about men being overlooked for ordination as high priests: They still hold the priesthood, do they not? A man holds no more priesthood as a high priest than he does as an elder. And where are the faithful adult men who hold the Aaronic priesthood who are overlooked by their leaders for advancement to the Melchizedek priesthood? If they exist, why don’t they speak up? I think you’re speaking of hypotheticals, or of bizarre short-term, very localized anomalies, not of the Church as it normally functions. And — this is the point of my comment, after all — where is the equivalence in these anomalies between priesthood and motherhood? Can a woman’s non-motherhood be corrected by an appeal to authority? by calling attention to her situation and asking the bishop to consider extending her that opportunity? by repenting of infertility and thereafter being received into the ranks of mothers?

    There’s no equivalence. Motherhood and priesthood, both of which are blessings of incalculable worth, are different. There’s no value in pretending they are the same, merely distributed by gender.

  113. Peter LLC says:

    As a negotiator, I know that nothing is accomplished as long as people are angry or sarcastic

    As a negotiator, you would also know that linking unrelated issues is not without its hazards. So what is to be gained by linking priesthood and poverty? Since you expect rocks thrown at you for doing so, I assume that you actually know better. Though would be fun to imagine how the following conversation would turn out:

    Homeless woman: Spare some change?
    Me: What’s some change compared to the power and authority to act in God’s name? You aren’t getting either anytime soon, so just take the long view. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. And have a nice day.

  114. I adore Peter LLC (er, when he isn’t taking aim at me).

  115. Mommie Dearest says:

    Bonnie, I don’t like the apparent acrimony that some folks bring to the discussion, but I try to forbear with it, because everyone of us has a different experience to express, and I consider the chaos that results to be an important step in the process. And it elicits a few key comments that get to the heart of the matter. It can be unpleasant, yes, but it’s a step that some of us have to experience before we can grow enough to see another’s point of view with enough empathy that is necessary before we, as a group, will deserve the greater light and knowledge that we so badly need.

    Also when someone tells me that I am jealous of men and then mansplains to me how I might better feel my feelings, I think a brief correction is in order.

    So, while the discussion of improving YW development and activities was more productive, and this morass is less so, the morass is important to the process too, and better than suffering in silence. Nobody learns from that.

  116. It seems rather clear to be in the temple ceremonies that women will someday hold the priesthood, FWIW.

  117. Vinniecat says:

    Interesting discussion and one I’m hearing more and more from church members, which I view as a positive and healthy sign that as a church, we can learn, grow, and change. Chris’ argument (#26) just doesn’t hold water for me. The idea that YW are “omnicapable” and would therefore take over all service opportunities is a bit over the top. Women can do anything so let’s have them watch the men bungle through? Naw. Both sexes are capable. Both should be given service opportunities. Why could young women not pass the mic around during F&T meetings? Why aren’t the YW participating in the Scouting For Food drives? I love the suggestion at #54 that YW visit teach starting at age 14, just like the boys.

    My 7-year-old daughter has been eagerly looking forward to turning 8, partly because she wants to participate in Scouts so badly. It’s hard to tell her she can’t. We can make changes to provide equal opportunities for girls and boys without even messing with the Priesthood. There is no recognition for the YW in our sacrament meetings, no recognized rites of passage. I think these are fairly easy fixes we could and should make.

  118. #113 Peter Ha Ha!

    #116 dch42 I so badly want to say something about the temple ceremony regarding this discussion as well, but have made a covenant not to disclose it.

  119. @Vinniecat, and others who wonder. As minam in #64 stated, recognition should be happening in sacrament meeting for YW as they progress from class to class and when they earn their Young Womanhood Recognition award. If your Bishopric isn’t doing it, or you would like them to do a better job of it, then strong encouragement is warranted. Our Stake YW Presidency came up with an extended list of ideas and recommendations for what could and should be done to recognize the YW over the pulpit and also during the award ceremony – which typically happens on a separate evening – and it was a fairly weighty approach. One that recognizes the extensive effort required for the YW to earn this award and impress on the congregation the work that was done.

    This in no way solves the rest of the problems discussed but it definitely improves one aspect of recognizing YW for their progress and efforts at these stages of their lives.

  120. Ardis,
    Good points.

    I think you and I are interpreting ‘worthiness’ differently. I am looking very broadly at pure-hearted persons (celestial-kingdom bound) from any era who may or may not be in the right time and the right place to receive the priesthood on earth. The date 1978 comes to mind. I am assuming your definition of ‘worthy’ comes from current LDS standards, which have changed slightly depending on the decade and version of the CHI.

    You are right, there have been massive improvements in access to the priesthood in the recent past. There have also been improvements in medical science and fertility. (Just had to throw that in there.) I don’t consider access to either ‘fair’. However, that does NOT mean they are two sides to the same coin.

    Yes, males who pass current LDS standards for worthiness are very rarely overlooked for the priesthood. However, if one spends time with male church members who never received the priesthood, or never advanced very far within it, one sometimes finds heartbreaking stories of social ostracism and unrighteous dominion. I know I’m throwing a very large external locus of control on their situations, but I tend to give a lot of weight to the environment, especially when that environment is a powerful hierarchy which discourages the questioning of leadership. I realize the examples I’m referencing are outliers, exceptions only. (Thank heavens). Then again, isn’t infertility the exception, not the rule?

    Ok, I’m finished playing devils advocate. It is giving me a headache. We’re looking at apples and oranges and are struggling to even line up comparisons. I’m throwing my hands up.

    I’m just going to say to dch42 (#116) ‘From your lips to Gods ears’ and ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

    Thanks for the Fri afternoon thoughts. Great post.

    BTW, Thanks #71 Kate and #73 Rosalynde W. The three of us should put our minds together sometime and create an outline of additional action items for our shared vision. I had never seen Rosalynde’s Patheos article until now, but I’m struck by the congruence of our ideas. I think they could really be engaging if shared with the YW General Board.

  121. JAT (#54) says:

    Thanks #117 Vinniecat!

  122. Kristine says:

    “Thanks #71 Kate and #73 Rosalynde W. The three of us should put our minds together sometime and create an outline of additional action items for our shared vision. I had never seen Rosalynde’s Patheos article until now, but I’m struck by the congruence of our ideas. I think they could really be engaging if shared with the YW General Board.”

    Yeah, no one has ever tried that before…

  123. Josh B. says:

    I’m enjoying every minute of this thread.

  124. #116- Please enlighten me or at least give me a hint. I am an endowed member who has been through the temple many, many times and I have no idea what anyone gets out of the endowment that assures them that “women will someday hold the Priesthood” or any sort of institutional authority. I ask in all sincerity. I remember Sheri Dew commenting to that effect and just being baffled. Still am.

  125. The height of my religious authority was my mission. For many of the elders, it was just the beginning of a steep climb of their adult religious authority. If I weren’t married to a devout Mormon, I would be gone from the church because my professional life, in which I am evaluated and promoted based on merit, has made me completely uninterested in the “separate but equal” patter I hear at church.

  126. I could be wrong here, but I am pretty sure I remember some sort of rule, or call for discretion to not discuss the temple ceremonies. Is that still correct, or was it ever? I prefer for people not to discuss them, but if it is something that is allowed I will not ask others to hush on my account.

  127. Kristine says:

    EOR–the parts of the ceremony that actually can’t be discussed are quite specific and rather small portions of it. However, people have different levels of comfort with discussing the temple, and we ask commenters to be careful of differing sensibilities (and the admins will be a little heavy-handed if necessary to enforce that respect). It’s always permissible to ask admins to put you in touch with another commenter, if an off-blog conversation seems like the best course.

  128. Left Field says:

    #124: Both men and women are explicitly informed that when clothed in the appropriate symbolic attire, they are (note the present tense, not “someday”) prepared to officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood.

  129. I know the answer to your quest of what young girls get when they turn twelve: they get to be “guardians of virtue” and be responsible for controlling young men’s thoughts with the way they dress….or at least that’s what seems to be reinforced in Young Womens. Here’s a silly thought: we should be teaching that only WE are in control of our thoughts. To automatically deem men’s minds weaker and more apt to be tempted to think inappropriately because their brains “work differently” than women’s is teaching young men not to take full responsibility for their thoughts and that it’s the women at fault because they are flaunting themselves. What a cop out. I’ll stop there because I could go on and ON….(coming from a YW leader). I know, I’m way off the topic. It was more of a vent.

  130. Janet Rogers says:

    Rebecca, I completely agree with you. As a convert to the church, women not receiving the priesthood was something that constantly bothered me. As you said, we’re told how important the priesthood is, but then at the same time, we’re told it’s nothing special when we, as women, don’t receive it. The role of women in the church has caused many great women that I have known in the past to leave the church, and I struggled with it myself for the longest time, wondering if Relief Society really did hold as much importance as Elders Quorum. I’ve tried to come up with ways to rationalize it and often drawn a blank, as other churches, including the RLDS do give women the priesthood. Like many of my friends, I just accept the divinity of the church, try to reconcile the unanswered questions and hope that someday things do change.

  131. #128 Left Field

    Exactly–great minds think alike! Now I’ll move out of the way while the lightning bolt zaps you…

  132. Bethany says:

    The one thing I love about the Church is that women are valued members of society when so many other religions teach that women are subservient. My husband’s aunt is a minister in her church, loves it and I’m glad she gets joy out of it. I see the value in what she does and sometimes get envious. When we talk about why women don’t hold the Priesthood in our chuch, I tell her that women do have a say. We are RS presidents, primary presidents, YW leaders and hold various other callings. We teach our families how to be righteous and take care of the needs of those around us. We aren’t pushed to the side and ignored.

    I love that men have the Priesthood. There is an authority and power there that can’t be denied when righteous men take on the responsibilities of leadership and show love and compassion. It gives me great strength knowing that there are men watching out for their families and wards, protecting and sheltering us from the outside world. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to hold disciplinary meetings, give blessings that aren’t what the recipient isn’t expecting, or deal with upset members over trivial and important needs. We need our men and their love.

    However; I think the Church programs need a change. Priesthood meetings shouldn’t be a “good ‘ole boys” club or a feel like a privileged country club leaving others out. RS meetings shouldn’t be “be happy in all things, grin and bear it with good cheer while your life falls apart” mentality. The Scouting program is a joke and YW teachings that say “if you aren’t modest and virtuous you aren’t marriage material” are hurtful. We need to inspire confidence in teens and adults, not a separate but equal, but not really mentality.

    I don’t worry about not holding the Priesthood. I do worry about teaching my children the Gospel when they see totally different messages and are confused by what is said but not really meant.

  133. It is so refreshing that this blog exists. A place where people can express their beliefs and ideas. Thank you for all the thoughts everyone has given here, “food” to be discussed with my brothers and sisters.

  134. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    For young women in those wards who’s bishops make it a point to have young women stand and be recognized on the podium at the time they advance to a different class as a similar to but not equal type of recognition given to young men who are being presented for an ordination to a new priesthood office, would that experience feel appreciated or patronizing?

  135. We did it when I was in YW and it was totally patronizing, but that was more due to my Bishop at the time. He was the biggest reason I was inactive for many many years. Perhaps a decent or good Bishop can make it work.

  136. Alain # 119 said, “Our Stake YW Presidency came up with an extended list of ideas and recommendations for what could and should be done to recognize the YW over the pulpit and also during the award ceremony – which typically happens on a separate evening – and it was a fairly weighty approach.”

    Alain, would you be willing to share them with us? Would love to pass them along…

  137. This is the nice part of being a sort of low-key, semi-active Mormon: I think it’s all a lot of fraternity pledging, slap-your-bro-on-the-back fun and don’t get my panties in a wad over it. Check back with me in 20 years if I marry a devout Mormon AND have a daughter!

  138. LOL, #82 Mommy Dearest…too true! I’m all for “just sayin’s”

    Kristine #122′ other than being clothed in the appropriate clothing in the temple ceremony, It has always been the fact that women wash and anoint that has given me an inclination that women do have some authority in the Priesthood…unless…..it isnt a Prienshood ordinance? We are also sealed to become priests and priestesses in the sealing ceremony, if I am recalling it correctly.

    Bonnie, I adore your views, and can see where you are coming from in the discussion. Either view (activism or turning the other cheek) can be taken to unhealthy extremes, Which is why we find both Captain Moroni, and Alma’s words in our scriptures. Interestingly, there seem to even be times when extremes are called for in order to restore balance. Sometimes sarcasm can break the ice, and good natured humor and exaggeration can open our eyes to how others feel.

    JAT #120, You said,”if one spends time with male church members who never received the priesthood, or never advanced very far within it, one sometimes finds heartbreaking stories of social ostracism and unrighteous dominion. I know I’m throwing a very large external locus of control on their situations, but I tend to give a lot of weight to the environment, especially when that environment is a powerful hierarchy which discourages the questioning of leadership. I realize the examples I’m referencing are outliers, exceptions only.”
    While off topic, I have to tell you how good that was to hear. There are more “outliners” than would first meet the eyes. It is too bad they are so ignored and even rejected, as they can often be some of the most moral, loving, hardworking, and faithful among us. Who has to hang on with more determination and strength? Those in the press, or those on the fringes and front lines without the support of the middle crowd? This applies to the women as well. We need everyone!

    Wonderful discussion. Go, go, go Rebecca! Loved the Patheos article! Ditto and Amen to most of the comments, and I just love my new vocabulary word….can’t wait to use it in a sentence… mansplaining :)

  139. Ok, I couldn’t resist replying directly to 85 since my feminine empathic abilities tell me you you are trying to understand. Could the reason that women aren’t so mentioned in the scriptures be that men are the ones that generally edit and compile them? There were prophetesses in the OT, fewer in the NT, and none in the BoM.

    Mothers are the complement of Fathers. And the Priestesshood, is the complement of the Priesthood.

    I am a little alarmed you are not aware of this next one, since it is in your field. Resentment DOES NOT always stem from feelings of jealousy and lack of understanding. Resentment, like anger, in a secondary emotion signaling that there are primary needs and/or wants that are not being met. Resentment particularly surfaces when one is being used, abused, and unrighteously dominated. I wouldn’t promote my own link, if it didn’t apply, but it applies perfectly. Both to your comment and Rebecca’s problem solving strategy.

    http://gleaningthefields.com/2012/06/02/the-dark-side-of-the-martyr/

  140. Naismith says:

    “For example, I can’t think of any reason why only a priesthood holder could be a Sunday School President, but that’s how things are done.”

    Priesthood isn’t inherently required for that one. May be assigned that way now, but prior to 1978, this was one of the few leadership callings that men of African descent could hold. So they held it for years.

  141. Further to Naismith’s 142, I have an instance in the early 20th century when a woman was the Sunday School president, in a southern Utah mining camp where the only Church organization was the Sunday School (and where there were some — but very few — priesthood holders, to boot). The way things are is the way things are, but not necessarily the way things have always been or the way they will always be.

  142. Justtryingtoliveright says:

    Back again friends..

    #139 I appreciate your response. In fact, I am grateful for the multiple responses to my apparent mansplaition.

    Question: do the majority of women who post feel that men holding the priesthood is a true sign of inequality within the church?

    In response to multiple posts regarding #85.. I felt that my approach was unintentionally taken wrong as my writing and lack of proper paragraphing and indentation was over the top. My thoughts were meant to provoke thought to the conversation. As frustration was previously mentioned as a secondary emotion, my intention was to create an open minded statement in which my personal views could be portrayed without an emotionally charged response.

    This topic, as previously stated, is a very sensitive one. I guess in ways we are all subject to conformity in regard to the priesthood. I have never really looked at it as inequality (maybe because I am a male on the “other” side). I have always viewed the priesthood as a protector of families. A way that a man has to truly be a source of strength. Do I feel that women deserve that same opportunity.. Yes. Do I feel that a man is better than a women for having the priesthood, not at all. I guess I view the priesthood in its entirety as a way to put responsibility on the shoulders of men. In the realm of equality, each individual takes equal responsibility for themselves. So in this sense, it wouldn’t be a valid argument that the priesthood creates responsibility because it would therefor cause an inequality between the sexes.

    ..even with the above mentioned “invalid” argument regarding responsibility, To believe that this “men only” structure is improper must surely also take all the revolutionary actions during the era if Joseph Smith (administration/restoration of the priesthoods). Why would God just send Peter, james and John to administer to Adam, as well as Jospeh Smith? I pose the question because I truly want to know what you guys think.

    I know we previously discussed scripture being written by men, and, for the most part, the book of Mormon is full of traveling, hunting, wars, and controversial experiences with non-believers. I’m sure there would be quite a bit more women involved had the lord commanded Sariah to make an account of her day to day activity (Not saying she didn’t have the same spiritual experiences Nephi had) The majority of hunting, manual labor, and war was generally done by men in those times. So in record keeping, I don’t see why men writing scripture would really be an acceptable argument I regards to equality in scripture. Unless we feel that Joseph translating the book of Mormon was solely for the purpose of men and men alone. Jospehs translating of Mormons abridgment would be considered sexist if we were to think that just because he was a man, It made the scripture passage favor that of men.

    There is some significance to the priesthood, there is reason and obligation to why God would work his priesthood through men. Perhaps it is responsibility, but times have changed. The call to War is extended to both men and women. So maybe this is why we become so confused with priesthood structure.

    Because the traditional ways of the past have changed. It is no longer agreeable that a women’s place is behind the house door ensuring proper upbringing of children. Since this traditional view has changed, many controversial roles of men and women in the church have changed.

    To the disbelief of many, I believe in equality and know that any form of domineering is absolutely wrong. There is no greater half in marriage. Although I believe women to be the most stalwart of the two, there are so many ways that women are oppressed and objectified. It is hard for me to truly feel that this priesthood structure, evident from heaven, has a sly of inequality. To even believe that it is I unintentionally present would place God as an imperfect being, domineering over the female, human species.

    I do not know much of why God has directed men to hold the priesthood, but I desire to know, and I desire to understand Heavens take on the priesthood and it’s obligation to men.
    But as for this post, I write to encourage thought and discussion. Feel free to scrutinize and “sarcastify” this post. I would like an honest response though, because I do want to understand your opinion and understanding as well.

  143. As has been mentioned, there is a huge difference between women and the priesthood in the temple and outside the temple. Given what is said in the temple about priesthood, especially with regard to women who wear the garment of the Holy Priesthood when they leave the temple, I choose to believe that the temple version of all who are endowed from on high holding the priesthood and possessing priesthood power in a very real way is the ideal – and that the non-temple version of men only exercising the priesthood in the administration and performance of ordinances is a lesser model influenced heavily by culture.

    I’m not advocating that women who hold the priesthood through their temple endowment exercise it in the administration and performance of ordinances outside the temple, but I certainly wouldn’t have any issue whatsoever with it happening.

    Oh, and as Kristine said in #127, there is very little of what happens in the temple that actually is forbidden to be discussed. I honor the restrictions that are in place, but almost everything has been published by Pres. Packer, Bro. Nibley and others over the years – specifically because it’s sacred but expressly not secret. I try to be aware of differing sensibilities in a public forum like this, so I generally don’t talk as openly about it here as I do in person – but I have no problem talking about it very openly with members and non-members alike. Many of our problems relative to the temple would be resolved quite easily, imo, if we simply talked more openly about it – again, excepting those few things that actually are forbidden.

  144. StillConfused says:

    She can be as involved in a church as she wants… just not the Mormon Church. You can show her the fabulous female preachers on TV.

  145. Stephanie says:

    Ardis #141, you don’t have to go back that far. A woman was SS pres in the Cambridge University Ward, Boston Stake (Mitt Romney, Stake Pres!), somewhere in the 1988-92 range. Kristine will remember this.

  146. Kristine says:

    I do, gleefully!

  147. Justtryingtoliveright says:

    #87- No. Righteous indignation is an appropriate response to injustice. Characterizing it as “frustration and resentment” grounded in selfish “jealousy” compounds the injury.

    I’m sorry I do not agree that men holding the priesthood is injustice.

  148. I  agree with what Ray said.

    JustTryingtoliveright, I didn’t used to feel that men holding the Priesthood was a sign of inequality in the Church.  I converted from conservative  (almost orthodox) Judaism to Mormonism. One thing prompting the change was my irritation with the local Jewish congregation that had women holding the torah, and was selling crab legs in the foyer. No, I fully drank the Mormon cool aid, though I’ve never really quite fit in due to my questioning nature, but I was a letter-of- law-girl. Until I experienced unrighteous dominion (otherwise known as spiritual abuse) up close and personal. I realized that not only can Priesthood holders get it wrong, but so can Priesthood leaders, Bishops, Stake Presidents, GA, even prophets. I sought help in correcting my situation, but quickly realized there was no recourse. No checks and balances.  Worse, even with an experienced professional advocating for me, no one could be motivated into action. Why? Those in authority over me held the Priesthood, my advocate and I did not.  Because we are women, we could not bring about needed action that according to the Church’s own policies was required.  It opened my eyes. 

    Inequality is not just a problem between the sexes. The Church has built fantastic organization based on divine revelation. The  only problem is that it relies on mortals to administer it. Mortals with unique sets of experiences and cultural backgrounds that can blind them to truth.  God generally will not interfere with unrighteous dominion, He is not a God of force. That was Satan’s plan. 

    Could it really be that God never wanted women to record their experiences, or was it simply that women traditionally were illiterate? Or maybe some DID record and the men took credit for it? Why are women’s unique perspective not accounted for? 50% or more the membership are female, why would their experience and perspective not matter? I feel it is a cultural bias, that the prophets were not immune to, and even if they were, their adherents weren’t. It certainly did not originate with Joseph Smith.

    Look at how much trouble Joseph Smith already had, do you honestly think ANYONE would have believed him if he said that a Prophetess appeared to him? Or if he ordained Emma and other women to the Offices in the Priesthood, where men would be under their jurisdiction? Society was not ready, anymore than they were ready to observe the law of consecration. I’ve seen first hand how resistant a spiritually blinded person can be to truth. God will not force them to see. I’m not sure He even can, anymore than you can force a toddler to understand algebra. Prophets make mistakes, and they have done so in scriptures as well. Nothing is perfect in this mortal sphere. “The most correct book” is still not perfect. 

    It isn’t just a matter of equality, or task distribution,  it is a matter of balance. Men and women are different from one another though not as different as cultural traditions would have us believe. We are equally capable, equally faulty, and equally needed. But our set of experiences and personal perspectives are not equal, as a group or individually. I feel that in order to make better administrative and spiritual decisions, doctrinal and societal progress, we need all the experience and perspective we can get among our leaders and teachers. If God says I’m wrong, then OK. But as far as I know He hasn’t. 

    I could go on forever, there is so much that is missing, so many discrepancies in the system. Once your eyes are open it is difficult to ignore what you see. 

  149. Mommie Dearest says:

    Ruth, your generous and uninflammatory way of commenting inspires me, and Justtrying, your #142 humbled me as well. It didn’t persuade me any, but your honest spirit of seeking to understand reminded me, once again, that I need to guard against cynicism and its offspring, sarcasm.

    I’d like to help you, but the treatise on Sexism 101 that you appear to need would be a huge threadjack. Also, I am not really qualified to teach it; for many years I was blind to sexism in the church myself, and only recently have begun to see the unjust and negative consequences of it in my own life. I have been on my own learning curve, trying to sort out what I really think and need from a structure (which both men and women accept as the default) that for centuries has been inherently informed by what men think and need, without discarding anything of value. It’s a slow, painstaking, and sometimes pain-filled process, and I’m not up for designing someone else’s curriculum.

    I will tell you two things: First, many women reject an error-prone (for women) sexist structure in the church without rejecting the priesthood, even one administrated only by men. Don’t assume that a Mormon feminist is agitating to be ordained, although, at some point in the eternities, we expect women to be included in priesthood action somehow. See how carefully I’ve worded that? Second, be aware that the nature of suffering a chronic injustice is that once you diagnose it, it becomes a sore spot, and that sensitive area gets more inflamed with each instance of further injustice. Don’t take it too personally when a woman in pain acts like it, because you inadvertently bumped into her sore spot. You seem to have a talent for thick skin, which is a good thing.

    Last, may I say that the teachings of Christ, and particularly the teachings gleaned from His atonement, are a lifeline and a very real balm to me and other women struggling like me, enabling us to endure continuing flaws without being deluged by cynicism and despair. Even though such reactive emotions are legitimate responses, it’s good to try to govern them so as not to be overwhelmed. I’m done with pretending that the flaws in the system are just fine. (For one example of such flaws, re-read the original post above) It gets exhausting to pretend like that, and many of us are beginning to ask if it’s really necessary, when the men who lead the church can solve problems with great finesse, once they see it as a problem. So while we wait for the brethren to see that we have a problem, we rely on the goodness of Christ to help us get through the day, just as women have done for centuries.

  150. While I recognize that an all-male priesthood is a fact, and apparently has been since the days of Adam, I can’t go so far as to call it an injustice to women. Fact, yes. Injustice, no.

  151. “While I recognize that an all-male priesthood is a fact”

    How do you square that with the temple?

    “and apparently has been since the days of Adam”

    How do you square that with the Old Testament and the New Testament?

  152. Those aren’t sarcastic questions, ji. I really am interested in your answers.

  153. It seems to me that this has ended up leaving the forest for a few select trees. With that said, I think that we need to remember that all members of the church, male and female, are eligible for personal revelation for their own lives. Following that personal revelation may be very difficult, and we may not understand it *right now* but we can always ask for it.

    Sometimes when we don’t ask for personal revelation, about personal things related to us and our own families, we end up spouting general platitudes instead of thoughtfully asking for answers from our Heavenly Father. I haven’t ever found any doctrine that says only men can recieve personal revelation, and at least in my family, my husband oftentimes is not the one who receives the promptings to do or change things, even though he is the head of our household and a priesthood holder.

    I am not sure whether women will hold the same priesthood keys as men, either as mortals on earth or immortals in the future. In many ways I personally find it more important to know that Heavenly Father does know and care for us enough to give us guidance, good friends to support us, and opportunities to learn, grow and expanding in knowledge, empathy and love.

    I could go on and on about priesthood leaders who abused, molested, and/or ignored my suffering. It happened to me, I know it happens to other women and men in the church. I know that sometimes the personal revelations I have received essentially come down to, “You need to leave, get out of that situation, find a place where you can be better nourished and grow, and I have prepared that place for you. Come, follow where I lead you.”

    I am not saying that we should not fight against injustice or let abusive leaders or members be excused from the consequences of their actions. Sometimes it may take longer than we would like to have those consequences come about. For me, I needed to simply follow the promptings I had, and the consequences for those who had abused and molested me came through the natural consequences of a well ordered church disciplinary system. Honestly, I think the biggest surprise of my life was that the church took my abuse seriously enough to have a lawyer for the General Authorities take action, even though my discussions had only been with my local leaders, as I tried to work through my own issues of faith and repentance.

    I believe that the priesthood we learn about in the temple is a multifaceted power, and that only a small portion of it is practiced here on earth. While the running of my ward is important on an earthly level, I only worry about who is running it when there are problems with how it meets, or doesn’t meet the needs of ward members. Sometimes the way to deal with dysfunction is to fight from within to change the structure, and sometimes the way to deal with our challenges can be to simply change where we live. I am not telling everyone to just move and everything will be perfect, but I have had personal revelation for my family that there is a place, and a ward, that is prepared for our family, and that the Lord wants us to be there.

    For me, all of this goes back to personal revelation. I have had “important callings” in the church as a president or presidency member of an organization. I did a good job while in those callings, but the calling that I think had the most impact on the ward I was in, was as the scout committee chairman. Most people have no idea who holds that calling in their ward. If the person who holds that calling is doing a good job, most people in the ward will maybe remember that the calling exists once a year during Friends of Scouting. It is a calling that has no gender attached to it, and yet, in shaping the next generation of priesthood holders, a righteous scout committee chair usually has more influence than any other teacher or leader a young man will have. I have been blessed/cursed with understanding the role that scouting plays in developing strong priesthood holders, and so, many of my callings have related to scouting over the years.

    For me, the priesthood vs motherhood debate is almost silly. It undervalues men and women because it assumes that one or the other is what leads people to be better people, more prepared for exaltation. When it comes down to it, our relationship with Christ, our ability to serve in whatever ways we are called, our willingness to have His image in our countenance, does not come through the priesthood or motherhood or any church calling. It comes from being disciples of Christ, in a messy, unfair, constantly changing world. How we navigate that world, and how we develop our personal relationship with Christ, will determine how worthy we are to recieve His guidance in our mortal lives, and in our lives to come.

  154. Ray (no. 152) — When we read about the priesthood back to Adam, we read of Adam holding the priesthood and giving it to his son Seth and so forth for several generations — we understand this as Melchizedek Priesthood. When God re-ordered things with the introduction of the Aaronic Priesthood in the days of Moses, that priesthood was given to the sons of Levi for generation after generation. When the Lord Jesus Christ called twelve, and called seventy, he called all men — he could have called six men and six women, or thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but he didn’t — if men had mis-handled things, then when he was here he had the perfect opportunity to teach correct principles — I believe he did teach correct principles..

    As I understand, women have often had important responsibilities, but the priesthood as we commonly discuss it has always been given only to men, sometimes few, sometimes many — and that by God’s design.

    Where there is an injustice, there must be an offender. I cannot call God an offender.

    Where there is something that I don’t understand, I have to square myself with it and live with it — there may be less-than-desirable circumstances of my health, for example — I can call it a fact and deal with it as such, or I can call it an injustice and deal with it as such. I prefer the former. Even if it is the latter, I am commanded to forgive and go forward — essentially, I am commanded to treat it like a fact rather than as an injustice. I will not call God a sinner.

    I do not believe that the imperfect actions of a few men, including those who have exercised dominion unrighteously or otherwise harmed persons in their care as has been related on this website, can be used to condemn all men.

    So I consider the all-male priesthood as a fact, not as an injustice. I recommend this approach to anyone who is troubled by these matters.

    One can still honestly hope for a change in a fact. But in the meantime, there is no imputation of wrong to others and no unhealthy emotions. It makes for a more healthy approach to life, I think. As the last poster wrote (no. 153), “How we navigate that world, and how we develop our personal relationship with Christ, will determine how worthy we are to receive His guidance in our mortal lives, and in our lives to come.”

  155. justtryintoliveright says:

    #154- “Where there is an injustice, there must be an offender. I cannot call God an offender.”

    “When the Lord Jesus Christ called twelve, and called seventy, he called all men — he could have called six men and six women, or thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but he didn’t — if men had mis-handled things, then when he was here he had the perfect opportunity to teach correct principles — I believe he did teach correct principles..”

    I think that this was the angle I was approaching in regards to “the structure” of the priesthood. For whatever reason, God and Jesus Christ persisted and continued with the “male priesthood” structure throughout generations. This point is touchy because then all the arguments regarding inequality would categorize the actions of the savior biased and unequal in calling only men to be apostles during his time on earth.

    IF it so be the case that Jesus called only men, exhibiting inequality, he must have not been perfect right?
    I think that the important part of this conversation is that we may have to believe in a God who has given men (at least on this earth) the priesthood obligation to maintain the structure of the church. It is very unfortunate that there may be many leaders out there who use unrighteous dominion, but I do not believe (with the previous point in mind) that unrighteous dominion gives us reason to believe that a prophet made an incorrect decision and that ever since the beginning of earth, Men have been covering up the power and influence of women, even Jesus Christ (#154-”When the Lord Jesus Christ called twelve, and called seventy, he called all men — he could have called six men and six women, or thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but he didn’t — if men had mis-handled things, then when he was here he had the perfect opportunity to teach correct principles — I believe he did teach correct principles..”)

  156. There is ample evidence that the clergy in the early Christian Church was not all-male – and there is nothing that differentiates the duties of men and women clergy in those times or limits authority in any way to men only. Thus, it’s hard to say authoritatively, based on our actual scriptures, that the Priesthood has been limited to men throughout history.

    Also, just to put it out there, I give much more weight to what is in the New Testament than what is in the Old Testament whenever there is an apparent conflict between the two.

  157. Antonio Parr says:

    I know that I am resurfacing during the tail end of a very interesting discussion, but it seems to me that there are two issues at play here. One is the need for our daughters to be challenged to think lofty thoughts and carry out noble deeds, and there is little doubt that we can and should do better in this area. (There are related self-esteem issues, and the need that we all have to be encouraged and recognized and loved. Again, our daughters deserve to be celebrated in meaninfgul ways, and we can and should do better in these areas.)

    The second is the general ecclesiastic and cultural structure of Mormonism, which has a male-only priesthood. At least on the surface, it appears that the perpetuation of this structure is consistent with the priesthood models found in the Old Testament, New Testament and Book of Mormon, and is the pattern of the Restoration. To the extent that one believes that God reveals Himself to His Church (and, by extension, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, in fact, Christ’s Church), then some small degree of comfort can be derived from at least the appearance that the Church’s model is reflective of the historic sanction of God.

    I know that there are probably more than a few participants on BCC who would like to see a dramatic cultural overhall of Mormonism, including the extension of the priesthood to women and the recognition of gay marriages as indistinguishable from heterosexual marriages. While many denominations have gone this route, and, in so doing, provide important spiritual and communal support to our friends and neighbors, I wonder if Mormonism would still be Mormonism if we abandoned the male only, heterosexual model of our Priesthood leadership. And does God want Mormonism to become what in effect would be another liberal Protestant denomination?

    The current model produces many miracles. I continue to be in awe at the volunteer nature of Mormonism, and the wisdom and compassion and vision of the common men who accept the unsolicited calls to become Bishops and Stake Presidents. I have prayed with and served with such people, and have been moved deeply as I have witnessed them find strength and inspiration beyond their own natural abilities. There are flaws, of course, and people who abuse their callings, but It all seems miraculous to my eyes, warts and all.

    That being said, my LDS friends tend to me more liberal than conservative, and I admire their questing hearts and the desire to ensure that all feel loved and valued, which should be the desire of every Latter-Day Saint. I am hopeful that we can achieve such lofty goals within the framework of our current ecclesiastic structure, and hope, as well, that dialogues such as this help foster greater wisdom and compassion as we work together in our wards and stakes to help our daughters experience the extraordinary love and vision that God has for each of them. Thanks to Rebecca J for the post.

  158. Mommie Dearest says:

    If priesthood callings are extended on the basis of gender only in this world, we can chalk it up to the fallen nature of this world; God allows much to happen in this world for which he doesn’t approve, and sexist structure is surely part of that. If priesthood is given only to one gender in the eternities, then yes, we have a big problem. It means that to be female is to be much like breeding stock.

    Cynthia L, did you ever consider adding this to the Bingo card in the link in #72? Personal revelation corrects/adjusts flaws in the structure, so the structure needn’t change.

  159. Kristine says:

    “it appears that the perpetuation of this structure is consistent with the priesthood models found in the Old Testament, New Testament and Book of Mormon, and is the pattern of the Restoration. ”

    Antonio, this simply isn’t true. Despite the virulent sexism of the eras in which both the Old and New Testaments came to be, there are stories of women performing the kinds of jobs we now think of as requiring priesthood. There’s evidence that Joseph Smith intended a far more expansive role for women. It isn’t even controversial to note that women performed ordinances as late as the early part of the 20th century which they are now enjoined from participating in. We simply don’t know about the structure of the NT church, or the Book of Mormon church to draw conclusions about what current practice should be.

    The “consistency” argument simply cannot be sustained on the basis of a serious examination of history or scripture.

  160. “I’m sorry I do not agree that men holding the priesthood is injustice.”
    Of course it isn’t! Having Priesthood dominate women or anyone is injustice. Domination is not God’s way. Not having meaningful roles for women in the Church is injustice. Women are not allowed to institute anything strictly according to their own inspiration. A mortal man, even of he knows nothing of the circumstances, must always put on his stamp of approval. Is it too much to ask that those who believe “all is well” with this issue to at least validate that this is a frustrating situation that leaves many doors open for abuse? 

    Frankly, I feel all endowed women do have the Priesthood, and that all righteous women have the same access to the Priesthood as men. Ray is correct, there is too much evidence not just in the temple rites, but also in the OT,  NT and apocryphal texts.  And I think the Church is ahead of the religious masses in many areas regarding equality of the sexes. What women don’t currently  have is the authority to officiate in behalf of others with the priesthood (with some exception in the temple rites), though there are clues that they may have in the past. And, back to Rebecca’s post, specific roles in our worship services.

    I feel that this issue really brings out two different layers of faith. Some believe that the scriptures are complete and correct, and the Prophets do not make and have not made significant errors is their record keeping and counsel. This is the enviable, child-like faith we are counseled to seek and practice. Others feel the scriptures are missing enormous amounts of information, written, edited and compiled mostly through Devine guidance by mortal men who error. These folks, believe modern interpretation of revelation is as prone to errors as in ancient times. Their faith is always accompanied with the qualifier of human error and personal revelation. It is a more defensive sort of faith, perhaps I’ll call it the survivor’s or tested faith, since you have to survive some sort of major trial of your childlike faith to reach it. Those with a survivor’s faith, are very guarded in using any mortal interpretation to constitute as doctrine. I’m sure Jesus did and said MANY more things than we have record of. I’m sure others recorded their experiences with him. But all that survived is what we have. When God feels that as a people we are ready for more, He’ll make a way. He is perfectly able to work through mortals, but again, will not force them. So it’s our obligation to continue to practice in faith and add to our knowledge, according to our own conscience and ability so we are open to the revelations when they come, yet not be deceived by mistakes and lies.

    154 Ji, I don’t believe any emotions or feelings are unhealthy. Some are more comfortable than others. What isn’t healthy is getting stuck. Again, I could go on and on, but in the discussion I think it’s important not invalidate where each of us are. Tell me what works for you, how you feel, your opinions and experiences, what you’ve learned. Please don’t tell me how to feel. Some of us are desperately trying to accept what we find potentially very threatening. Telling us to just calm down and accept how it goes can escalate our concerns. 

    I miss Mommiedearest’s sarcasm…. wahhhhhhhh
    JustTryingtoliveright, I appreciate your genuine attempt to relate
    Julia, as always, your faith strengthens me.

  161. Antonio Parr says:

    159. Kristine: I chose the words “appear” and “consistent” with care, in part to address some of the nuances of your post.

    As for consistencies, Jesus chose 12 male apostles in both the New Testament and in 3rd Nephi. Joseph Smith’s counselors and quorum of the 12 were all men, which continues to be the case today, hence my use of the word “consistent”. While one can argue whether my characterization is correct from a prescriptive point of view, I don’t see as much room for argument when it comes to my descriptive approach.

  162. Antonio Parr says:

    (159. Kristine: Your point is well taken regarding the role that women played in the early LDS Church as it relates to ordinances. However, the general framework of “male Priesthood leadership” appears to be something that is well established, at least as it relates to the 12. Again, you might disagree from a prescriptive standpoint, but I believe that the description is accurate, subject to the corrections in your prior post.
    )

  163. Kristine says:

    There are a fair number of other offices besides apostles…

    Joseph also had the high council doing completely different things than we do, and an Anointed Quorum that included women–if one thing is clear, it’s that the current org. chart did not drop from the sky in 1830, and therefore need not be venerated as divine writ.

  164. For real, this is starting to seem like some sort of dead-locked struggle. It reminds me of a giant game of tug of war. Let’s see who gets the most mud in their eyes! (jk…maybe)

  165. Antonio, it’s almost as though you act like precedent must always take precedence, yet the Lord promised to reveal things hidden before the foundation of the world, and the Restoration not only draws on the past, but reformulates in the present with an eye to the future, is supposedly dynamic not simply static, etc. People justified chattel slavery based on race by similar arguments that you’re making. “Well, Jesus and Paul didn’t say free all the slaves, etc.!” Then you’d have to point out that slavery operates differently in different contexts, and take a view that we ought not limit our actions to the strict exigencies we find in scripture.

  166. Antonio Parr says:

    BHodges: It would be a bit unfair to ascribe the narrowest possible inference to my posts.

    I never wrote that precedent must always take precedence, nor do I believe that to be the case. Like any person of good will, I hope for the progress of humanity, and that will only take place when mankind abandons harmful precedence in favor of the things that love requires.

    As to Jesus and slaves, Jesus did not have slaves. He did have apostles, however — 12 of them, each of whom was male. That may be pure coincidence, or it may reflect an order of things that is important to Him. Either way, it is the way that He did things, and as our Exemplar, His actions should count for something.

    That is not to say that Christ can’t change things as He sees fit. But it does mean that the notion of an all-male Priesthood is not inherently corrupt or violative of the two great commands, because that is how Jesus once saw fit to begin the building of His kingdom.

  167. That may be pure coincidence, or it may reflect an order of things that is important to Him. Either way, it is the way that He did things, and as our Exemplar, His actions should count for something.

    My point is that such decisions may be based as much on temporal considerations as on some sort of eternal verity whereby a penis enables one to be an apostle, while an equally capable/smart/holy woman is disqualified evidently on that basis alone. It seems to me your argument is more concerned with justifying the Church’s present practice rather than thinking of alternative possibilities.

  168. Antonio Parr says:

    Such decisions may, indeed, be based on temporal considerations, or they may be based on eternal principles that are of importance to God. I am willing to concede that both are possible. Do you agree?

  169. You seem willing to grant it based on that comment, but you seem more interested in justifying against it, hence the suggestions above that you were “mansplaining” and so forth.

  170. Let’s see, just to speculate a little more:

    1) In Jesus’ day, men received the inheritance – and the women were “given in marriage” to men who were property owners. The chief disciples were those who could leave their livelihood and follow Jesus around the region as he preached – who could be traveling rabbis, so to speak. Generally speaking, that ability was limited primarily to men – although there were women of apparent power within the circle of disciples. Those women, however, certainly couldn’t be traveling rabbis in that culture – particularly if they had children, and we know that Peter, at least, was married (because his mother-in-law got sick). Add the story of Mary and Martha to the mix to get a feel for how a woman not focusing on household duties was seen, and it’s easy to believe that culture played a huge role in the choice of organizational leadership.

    2) There are multiple women who are mentioned in Paul’s epistles who also had apparent power in the early church – and in one case, at the very least, one of them held a title we now associate with Priesthood authority.

    Sure, drawing direct conclusions from this is speculation, but there are so many solid cultural reasons for what we read (not to mention the whole “as far as it is translated correctly” issue – since the translations were done by . . . you guessed it . . . men) that I have a hard time using our scriptures to say that God’s will is an all-male Priesthood. **At most, all I can assert is that it appears the performance of ordinances appears to have been limited generally to men** – for reasons that might or might not have anything to do with God’s will in an ideal world. Add to that, again, the actual wording in the temple and what women did in the early LDS Church, and I can’t argue against the belief that temple endowed men and women are endowed with the Priesthood and that the extra-temple version of limited ordinance performance is a concession to our fallen world.

    Finally, even if the performance of ordinances is limited to men, that aspect of Priesthood is only one aspect of Priesthood – and I would love to see and hear it stated explicitly that both men and women possess Priesthood authority and power that can be exercised outside of the male-only performance of ordinances.

  171. Kristine says:

    I don’t think it’s at all clear that Jesus didn’t regard the women who were his close disciples as just as important. By at least one account, the first person to fill the apostolic function of bearing witness of the resurrection was Mary. And, despite the accounts being written by men in a grossly sexist society, there are Priscilla, Phoebe, and Junia (at least) in the first-century church. We simply don’t know either what Jesus did or what he intended with regard to women, except that at every possible opportunity, he seems to have tried to counter the sexism of his society.

    There are some reasonable arguments for maintaining an all-male priesthood, but “because Jesus did it this way” is not one of them.

  172. Kristine says:

    er, what Ray said :)

  173. Antonio Parr says:

    Your responsive post still leaves unanswered whether you believe it possible that a male-only Priesthood may be reflective of the will/order of God.

  174. Yes, at least to the extent that he presently allows it and might otherwise inspire/reveal a different order, although I view revelation as in some ways constricted by recipients, etc.

  175. Antonio Parr says:

    Kristine:

    Respectfully, “because Jesus did it this way” carries a ton of weight for me, moreso than the actions of Paul or Peter or Joseph Smith or whoever. That doesn’t mean that He can’t reveal new things to us. But I would be hard-pressed to attribute anything less than purity and light to anything that the Nazarene said or did.

    As to Jesus and women, Jesus absolutely regarded the women who were his close disciples as every bit as important as his male disciples. His interactions with women is absolutely breathtaking, and it could be argued that He viewed the women with whom He associated as being of greater importance than His male disciples. (They were those to whom He first revealed Himself following His resurrection, and the account in Luke 7:36-50 is one of the most beautiful in all of scripture.)

    I think His love for us all, male and female, is boundless, and that eye has not seen nor ear heard the good things that He has in store for us all, both in this life and in the life to come.

  176. Antonio Parr says:

    BHodges: Thanks for Post No. 174. That was a wise response, to which I will give further deliberation. Best regards.

  177. Kristine says:

    Antonio–of course the way Jesus did things should have tremendous import for us, BUT ONLY IF WE KNOW WHAT HE DID, and I’m saying we just don’t know what roles he would have given to women if he had organized a church. We just simply have no idea, because he didn’t organize a church.

  178. #173 – Antonio, as I mentioned, I thinks it’s hard to say that male performance of ordinances isn’t the historical default and might be the will of God (even as it’s easy to argue that it’s culturally-based), but that is very, very different than saying a male-only Priesthood is the historical default – or that temple endowed women don’t have Priesthood authority and power in a very real way.

    Iow, I think a “male-only Priesthood” is neither historical nor God’s will – but I am open to the possibility that male-only performance of ordinances outside the temple is historical (to the best of our knowledge, which is limited) and might be God’s will. I’ll leave the latter relative to our day to those who have the authority to make such determinations in our day, believing such determinations reflect their belief in what God’s will is at this time and sustaining them as the people who currently have the authority to make that call for the Church.

  179. “I think His love for us all, male and female, is boundless, and that eye has not seen nor ear heard the good things that He has in store for us all, both in this life and in the life to come.”
    So….like maybe equality??

    EOR’s right this is getting almost comical. 

    No, I don’t believe a male-only Priesthood reflects God’s ultimate will/order. It does not give equal opportunity and blessings to His children, which I believe is his desire. This is a fallen world, and God’s ultimate will/order just can’t be instituted under these fallen conditions. 

    Yeah for Kristine and Ray and BHodges! Spot on!! Are you aware that your tone is patronizing and stereotyping?Rebecca’s port said nothing of the reforms you mentioned. I will reiterate, since I believe we can all be taught. 

    Obviously if doctrine comes straight from the the mouth of God, it is reliable. I don’t think anyone is arguing that.  One of the reasons God doesn’t speak with us directly is that (I feel) He wants us to do some thinking for ourselves. I used to swim and fish in the Jordan, but I wasn’t there with Jesus during His ministry. I have no idea exactly what he said, or how He set up His Church. Our scriptures don’t even tell us that! I also don’t know  if He set it up in a way that was conducive strictly for the work during that time. All I have (at best) are incomplete, translated, second-hand accounts. I rely on the Spirit to testify of truths, but I’ve been proven wrong on a few occasions on those accounts too. I do not trust in the “arm of flesh,” not even mine.

    But none of this has to do with Rebecca’s legitimate concern that we don’t have meaningful roles for women and YW in our worship services. When we grow up, we get to…..torment our children into silence. Good times! But wait! Don’t forget “they’ll call us blessed”… really??

    “If you put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.” Which is why I won’t shut up on the matter. 

  180. Something happened on Sunday that reminded me of this discussion re: the Young Women. They joined us for like 5 minutes at the beginning of our allotted RS hour. We all stood to recite the YW theme. The first thing that was like a jarring note was (and this may be a ward thing, please let me know) the girl conducting (looked about Laurel age) said “Please stand for truth and righteousness while we recite the YW theme.” Oh my goodness, I almost died laughing. That is the corniest business I have ever heard in my life besides “Jesus is my co-pilot.” That is almost guaranteed to drive away YW! I know I would have left if they said something like that to me when I was there. Anyway, I am not sure when it happened, but they changed the theme! I was fine until I was like “…and integrity” and they added “…and virtue”. Don’t get me wrong, virtue is important (in both YM and YW by the way!) but why tack it on at the end so SO conspicuously? It was as subtle as a Jon McNaughton painting.

    I don’t know why it reminded me of this discussion, and it took me about 15 minutes to write this post so I am sorry for the major threadjack but I guess it is somewhat related because it seems to me like the YM get praise and people run around after them shoveling up their excrement, while the YW sort of get it thrown on them. Also, apparently there seems to only be like 4 YM in my whole ward. Strange.

  181. Antonio Parr says:

    179. Ruth — Respectfully, I disagree with your statement that we don’t have meaningful roles for women/YW in our worship services. While it is true that women do not conduct our Sacrament Meetings or bless/pass the Sacrament, they do offer prayers and give talks/sermons. Some of the wisest/most uplifting Sacrament Meeting talks that I have ever experienced have been by women, including (but certainly not limited to!) the most recent talks given by my wife and my oldest daughter. These talks were meaningful in every sense to both the giver and receivers.

  182. Ruth (no. 160) — I don’t want to invalidate what anyone is saying [but some of the stuff I'm reading here certainly strikes me as invalid], and I agree that everyone is on his or her own path — but you asked me to tell you what works for me, how you feel, my opinions and experiences, what I’ve learned.

    What works for me is the wondrous knowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ has put forth his hand in these latter-days to restore his Gospel in its fullness and to restore his priesthood to good men so that they can perform the ordinances of salvation or the living and the dead. And I am so very grateful to be a small part of that work. I want to be grateful for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for the priesthood that I hold. I want to be loyal to that Church and to help build it up. I want to uphold the brethren of the priesthood with my confidence, faith, and prayers.

    In this light, I offered a thought that the priesthood being available only to men is better seen as a fact rather than as an injustice. One can be troubled by a fact or one can be troubled by an injustice, and one can hope that a fact will be changed or that an injustice will be changed. But when one has a choice (and in this matter, one does have a choice), it seems to me to be better to look on it as a fact. When one thinks of the priesthood being available to all worthy men as an injustice to women, then one has to deal with the additional baggage of the offender. But here, as I see it, there is no offender and there is no injustice. The brethren who are responsible for this policy are good men who are trying to do good work and who are honestly trying to bring to pass the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t always understand why everything is the way it is, but I appreciate the good will and honest effort of those at the head of the Church.

    Can a person see the priesthood situation as a fact and still hope for its change? Sure. But the tone of that hope will be entirely different than that of those who see it as an injustice. The former could perhaps be faith-promoting in others; the latter runs the risk of damaging faith in others. I don’t ever want to put a stumbling block in front of someone else.

  183. Stephanie says:

    How about the all-male administrative priesthood as a “lesser law,” in the way that tithing is a placeholder for consecration? OK, there’s not much in the way of textual support for this, but previous instances of lesser laws or “schoolmasters” don’t seem always to have been spelled out up front either.

  184. Stephanie (no. 183) — If that approach works for you, and if holding to that thought doesn’t damage your faith or the faith of others around you, then sure, try it for a while. Whenever one is troubled by something, even a fact, he or she has to rationalize it so they can put it aside and go own with other things. Then, sometime later, he or she might re-visit the thought and might realize that it did or didn’t work — but in the meantime, he or she had peace and the stumblingblock was set aside. My own approach in no. 182 may well be just the same sort of rationalization.

  185. Stephanie says:

    I’m not “holding to that thought” so much as throwing it out there to see what happens. Sometimes, for example, someone shares a link to something great of which I’m unaware.

  186. So what is the current record for number of comments to a posting? Are we getting close?

  187. I have a beautiful two year old daughter, and having read all the thoughts posted on this article, I am rather terrified at the enormity of the implications of everyone’s feelings. I want my daughter to feel like she is useful. I want my daughter to feel her Heavenly Father’s love, and to know that he value is limitless. Mine eyes have been opened by this discussion, and frankly, it troubles me.
    In the end, justifications for peoples’ feelings do not matter. The feelings are what matter. If someone is made to feel useless or unecessary, things must change if it is really true that we are all equal sons and daughters of God.
    Being a father myself, and having these feelings of worry and concern for my daughter’s future, I can only begin to imagine how our perfect Father must feel about all of His daughters. If I am troubled that my daughter may grow up to feel marginalized by her church organization, how much more must the Father of us all feel troubled about the hurt in all of his daughters on earth. As men in the church, we cannot allow our Father’s precious daughters to feel marginalized and minimalized. We are not in the 19th century anymore! I fear that marginalizing women in the church is a grave sin at which God takes offense. In the end, we will be judged for how we treat others. I am a member of the younger generation of the Church. My eyes have been opened. I promise that if I ever am in any kind of position of authority in the church organization in the future, I will do all that I can to help make the earthly version of God’s kingdom on earth as equal for women as for men, becuase we are all equal in our Father’s eyes, just as any good father sees his precious daughters as equal (if not sometimes more equal) in his eyes as his sons.
    Now, does this mean that the priesthood should be ordained upon God’s daughters? Well, I still think it already has.

  188. ji, re:facts “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    It is 150% not a fact that Male-only Priesthood is the will of God simply because that is how it currently is. Absent direct revelation no one knows the mind of God, but God himself. It is completely plausible (and highly likely) that accounts of women priestesses were largely left out of scripture, or later removed from scripture. I know you may not want to believe it, but women are marginalized and have been for centuries. You are definitely entitled to how you feel, but I wish you would stop referring to it as “facts”. What is a fact is that the current incarnation of The Church has an all-male Priesthood. Everything else is up in the air.

  189. EOR (no. 188) – I wish you would read my comment before trashing it. Is there room here for intellectual honesty?

    I choose to look on an all-male priesthood today as a fact, with no offender (even so, I still allow that one can be uncomfortable with a fact and hope for it to be changed) — it seems you look on it as an injustice, with offenders all around. We disagree.

  190. ji (189) I read your comments all the way through. You make numerous references to the will of God, and (paraphrase) essentially that is why the current Church has an all-male Priesthood–because God wants it that way. Otherwise all your comments about God not being an offender would be pointless.

    Further to intellectual honesty it is incorrect that “offender” has to necessarily have a negative connotation. I feel those in charge are wrapped up in status quo, and cultural biases (as Church leaders have been in the past). Technically, yes, this is an offense, and requires an offender but I believe it is an unconscious offense. I can only speak for myself, but I am certainly not attempting to demonize anyone. I do look on it as an injustice, but no, I do not see “offenders all around.” Our disagreement is definitely a fact though, we can agree on that.

  191. Kristine says:

    dch42–we’re not really close, but when we get to the point where all the women commenting on the thread are saying “this is a problem,” and most of the men are telling them why it’s not a problem, it’s likely time to end the discussion. We have adequately demonstrated the problem.

  192. ErinAnn says:

    RE: 181.Antonio Parr Says:
    June 5, 2012 at 6:26 am
    179. Ruth — Respectfully, I disagree with your statement that we don’t have meaningful roles for women/YW in our worship services. While it is true that women do not conduct our Sacrament Meetings or bless/pass the Sacrament, they do offer prayers and give talks/sermons. Some of the wisest/most uplifting Sacrament Meeting talks that I have ever experienced have been by women, including (but certainly not limited to!) the most recent talks given by my wife and my oldest daughter. These talks were meaningful in every sense to both the giver and receivers.

    Actually, there is no role “for women” in our worship services. There are priesthood leaders who conduct, priesthood bearers who serve, and other roles open to people of either sex and any age.

    I’ve said this before on a thread about the Priesthood, but I’ll tell it again. When discussing the Priesthood with my (then) six year old she said, “I know why boys get the priesthood. Because boys are better than girls.” And you know what? The “No, it’s because God said so.” answer came out really hollow to both my husband and me. We were shocked. But clearly that is what she sees at church. There are important jobs to be done with running the church, and 90% of it is done by men, with all women’s leadership ultimately answering to men. Always.

  193. ErinAnn says:

    Second two paragraphs are my reply. Sorry I forgot a break there to clarify.

  194. Antonio Parr says:

    ErinAnn: My point was that there is a meaningful female presence in our meetings. While I understand that many who participate in this forum are unhappy with male-only Priesthood leadership, Latter-Day Saint worship services are not the Christian equivalent of Orthodox Jewish worship services, with women in the back of the synagogue playing no role of any kind. LDS women preach and teach, and this kind of participation is more than de minimis.

  195. this concept is huge to me. our church endorses a ‘separate but equal’ paradigm for gender roles, but (as with its racial history), the two sexes are not treated equally. i am open to the idea of women being intrinsically different from men, and having their own unique role. i don’t need the priesthood. what i need is recognition and respect. we go out of our way to give that to the priesthood at every level, from podium recognition in sacrament to mandated lessons on the value of the priesthood in every meeting, whatever the sex. until we get a little bit of that respect thrown our way, and i’m talking about something more serious than the ‘women are incredible’ hand-waving, i remain skeptical. we need a women’s theology to justify our roll, that idea could use some considerable development, (which i would absolutely love). until we get going on the ‘equal’ part, i will not accept the ‘separate’ part.

    in short, church, when i protest don’t tell me sex doesn’t matter if we’re all disciples of jesus. you made it matter already, with your priesthood restrictions and your gender roles and your proclamations. now be consistent and develop the women’s sphere you’ve relegated us to. or better yet, give us the authority to do it ourselves..

  196. ErinAnn (192) This: “When discussing the Priesthood with my (then) six year old she said, “I know why boys get the priesthood. Because boys are better than girls.” was heartbreaking. I hope all little girls know that the little boys are not in any way better than them. I have a tendency to favor boys, but even I know one is not better than the other.

  197. Without the work and efforts of women in the Church where would the Church be right now? I am frankly getting sick of seeing so many dedicated women in church every Sunday with their children while their husbands are AWOL.

  198. I understand that many who participate in this forum are unhappy with male-only Priesthood leadership

    And I’m tired of hearing this — it misunderstands much of what I see expressed in comments. It’s a subtle distinction that I don’t think will be appreciated by most, but I am not unhappy with male-only Priesthood leadership; I am unhappy that women don’t have greater roles, aren’t more visible in Mormon church life. There *is* a distinction there, whether you can catch it or not.

    In my ward of 600 adults and no children older than 18 months, visible roles for women are even more limited than in a normal ward. I realize how lucky I am to be teaching Sunday School, when hundreds of women in my ward have no visible participation (yes, presumably most are visiting teachers, but I don’t see them do that, don’t hear of their service except in the vaguest way; invisible service, as essential and celestial as it may be, doesn’t help me feel that women’s service even exists, much less that it is valued. It doesn’t serve as a model for me, or help me find my own place in the Church). Otherwise, I see a female organist once in three weeks, see a female music director every other week, and once in a while (not weekly) hear a female voice in prayer or see a woman giving a talk. That’s it. Otherwise, it’s all male, everywhere, all the time. I am not unhappy that men have roles, certainly not that they lead by virtue of priesthood; I am unhappy that women do not have meaningful roles to any noticeable extent.

    (Well, yes, there’s Relief Society, too; but when you have hundreds of women in a room, most of whom can’t see or hear what’s going on at the front, there is a constant low-level roar of chattering going on in the pews and little to no sense of worship or sisterhood or anything but hubbub. Relief Society under those conditions is … unsatisfying.)

  199. Jeannine L. says:

    Yes, yes, yes, Ardis and others are so right. The argument is NOT “Why can’t women have the priesthood?”, it is “Why can’t women/young women have something to DO?”

    But, maybe that’s our own fault. Maybe we’re limiting ourselves. I can think of too many times when I’ve had a good idea and thought, “I should ask (whoever is in charge, Bishop, Bishopric member, etc.) if I can do this thing in our ward”, and then it goes nowhere. Lately I’ve just gone ahead and offered to do a couple of things, circumventing the “traditional authority”, and followed through on them. It worked! The things I wanted to do happened!

    I’m kind of ashamed that I didn’t do anything before. And I’ll try harder in the future. Also, I may steal some of the great ideas I’ve read about here. I do that all the time, you know. These “blog” thingies do have an influence.

  200. Mommie Dearest says:

    ji, I know your impulse was to be helpful in #182, but it’s not helpful to tell the women how they should go about feeling what they feel.
    I can echo Ardis’ concept and restate that women being marginalized in most of the important leadership IS most definitely an injustice, but we all have a TON of practice in processing this so that it doesn’t make all the men in leadership individual offenders. Please relax. We have years of experience doing this. Your mansplaining suggestion that we pretend that “injustice” really should mean “fact” means that I’ll have to do some pretending, and I’m too old for that. The baggage that comes with pretending takes too much of my energy to carry, and by necessity I am having to jettison useless baggage I used to carry easily as a younger woman.

    And yes, I can choose to carry the baggage of pretending that an injustice is something less offensive, or I can choose to carry the baggage of seeing the injustice without blaming every priesthood holder (or God) for it. I think the latter sounds more honest, and honesty is always less work than pretense.

    (I will dance on the day when we quit trying to whitewash all the unpleasant “facts.” That’s one change I hope for. And don’t worry about my stumbling blocks. I have way more experience handling them than you do, I’ll be fine.)

    Antonio, #181 you have missed the point. YW (and even 6 year olds!) can see that there is a big difference between ward leadership, for which only young men are quite visibly developed, and only men serve, and speaking in church, for which both sexes are developed and asked to speak.

    Maybe we all could go back and re-read Rebecca’s original post? And be sure to read Rebecca’s comments, especially #38 and #78, which says, “I know that I can serve others in meaningful ways. It doesn’t stop me from noticing the problematic aspects of a male-only priesthood. I think I’ve said this already, so forgive me for repeating myself, but noticing the problematic aspects isn’t the same as thinking that the church’s organizational system must be wrong. I think we can deal with the problematic aspects without necessarily changing the church’s policy on ordaining women. I don’t think we can deal with the problematic aspects by not acknowledging them.”

    It’s so hard not to be cynical and sarcastic when I see this repeated over and over, but I am trying.

  201. Michael says:

    As constructed, the organization is not completely fair/equal. Maybe someday it will be.

    But until then we have to make do with the blatant discrimination based on sex that prevents women from fulfilling duties as bishops, ward clerks, or as young men’s president and prevents men from duties as a primary president, young women’s second counselor, or relief society secretary.

    I’m sure several people prevented from acting in these positions could do excellent work if provided an opportunity, and perhaps that is what will occur someday…

    Also I appreciate nearly everyone’s comments so far…I think some really strong and constructive thoughts have been provided. Thanks!

  202. Obviously, the way this discussion has run on is an indication of the angst over the lack of roles for women in church hierarchy, let alone the issue of priesthood ordination.

    I will only note that whatever progress has been made at the local level, ie, finally letting women say prayers in sacrament meeting, is still only token until women are also able to give the prayers at sessions of general conference. Whatever the argument is for denying women that right would be the same argument for not allowing them to pray in sacrament meeting or stake conference. It is indefensible in those local meetings, so why does offering a prayer in general conference suddenly take on a priestly dimension? To me, that is a man-made inequity propagated by male only leadership. There is no scriptural foundation for it, so why not change it? A small step, perhaps, but an important one.

  203. Antonio Parr says:

    Mommie Dearest:

    Respectfully, I did not miss the point. Ruth wrote that there are ~no~ meaningful roles for women in LDS worship meetings, and that is not an accurate statement. I have heard talks by women in my Ward that have been life changing. No doubt at all that these sisters played a meaningful role during those moments, at least as it relates to the light and truth that they sent my way.

    I do not disagree with you and others about the obvious fact that men play a more prominent administrative role in our worship meetings, and do not disagree that we can and should do better with respect to providing opportunities to women/girls in the Church. (Ardis’ account of the dyanmics in her Ward is particularly discouraging with respect to the quality of women’s experience in that Ward.) That being said, I think it important that we give credit where credit is due, and we do our women and girls an injustice when we suggest (even inadvertently) that the talks that they are preparing for coming Sundays are somehow only marginal acts on their part. These talks are not marginal at all — they are life changing for the speaker and for the hearer, and vital to the spiritual health of Mormonism.

    The incomparable Frederick Buechner wrote the following about the giving of “talks”/sermons:

    So the sermon hymn comes to a close with a somewhat unsteady amen, and the organist
    gestures the choir to sit down. Fresh from breakfast and a quick run through of the Sunday
    papers, the preacher climbs the steps to the pulpit with his sermon in his hand. He hikes his
    black robe up at the knee so he will not trip over it on the way up. His mouth is a little dry. He
    has cut himself shaving. He feels as if he has swallowed an anchor. If it weren’t for the honor
    of the thing, he would just as soon be somewhere else.

    In the front pews the old ladies turn up their hearing aids, and a young lady slips her six
    year old a Lifesaver and a Magic Marker. A college sophomore home for vacation, who is
    there because he was dragged there, slumps forward with his chin in his hand. The vicepresident
    of a bank who twice that week has seriously contemplated suicide places his hymnal
    in the rack. A pregnant girl feels the life stir inside her. A high school math teacher, who for
    twenty years has managed to hold onto a secret about himself, creases his order of service
    down the center with his thumbnail and tucks it under his knee.

    The preacher pulls the little cord that turns on the lectern light and deals out his note
    cards like a riverboat gambler. The stakes have never been higher. Two minutes from now he
    may have lost his listeners completely to their own thoughts, but at this minute he has them in
    the palm of his hand. The silence in the shabby church is deafening because everybody is
    listening to it. Everybody is listening including even himself. Everybody knows the kind of
    things he has told them before and not told them, but who knows what this time, out of the
    silence, he will tell them.

    Let him tell them the truth.

    ~~

    LDS women and girls who give talks on Sundays are like the preacher in Buechner’s example. They are truth tellers, speaking to some whose life is on the brink, and for whom the stakes have never been higher. These women and girls (and men and boys) may very well represent the difference between hope and despair for more than a few who have come to Church that Sunday. Whatever burdens might be carried by LDS women — and, as I am learning, these burdens are many — the LDS practice of allowing its lay members — men and women alike — to preach from the pulpit each Sunday is a significant and sacred gift, and one that deserves to be recognized for the blessing to all that it is.

    (I have benefitted from this discussion. Thanks to all. I will try to be a better father/husband/brother/friend to the women and girls in my family and ward.)

  204. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’m happy to be corrected Antonio. It’s good to grow.

  205. EOR, yeah, the YW theme is a bit long. For a while in our ward the conducting YW would ask, “Who will stand for truth and righteousnous?” After-which we would all have to stand and recite the theme. Corny, cheesy beyond belief. Then we had to sing “As Sisters in Zion,” it was hard not to burst out laughing. I dislike being “angelified” as much as I dislike being marginalized. 

    Thanks ji, that was worded in a way that was easier for me to relate to, and I think I understand your concern. Again, I think most on the forum agree that for the most part the Brethren are good men with honorable intentions in a incomprehensible difficult and overwhelming position leading the Church. I can honestly say, I sustain those The Lord sustains. But an only male Priesthood is not a fact. Women HAVE the Priesthood, they just don’t currently administer (except in the temple), which is a fact AND an injustice. If you were denied job that you were trained, qualified, willing and able to do, simply because you have a penis, you would feel it an injustice. So your choices would be to accept the injustice and hope for a miraculous change, rationalize the injustice and by so doing demean yourself and qualifications, try to change the injustice, or a combination of any of these. Your choices do not change the fact that an injustice has occurred. While I trust that God is perfectly able to bring about change, he usually requires a bit of work on our end to bring about his miracles. So that is what I and so many of others are doing. Handing the Lord the loaves and fishes we have, with the hope and faith that He will multiply our efforts and bring about the miracle. We are not asking for proclamation ala 1978, we  just want to come on deck instead of be hidden below deck. Having some help below deck would be nice too.  Cant we take turns? We will remain devoted to Him, as we have for centuries, regardless of the miracles. Asking us to rationalize the injustice does not lift us, nor does it promote faith.

    A stumbling block….Jesus is a stumbling block to many, to others a stepping stone. No I do not want my words to cause stumbles. Stumbles are painful, but at times, unavoidable. Yes, it is a risk. God felt the risk was worth it, and provided a means for us to get back on our feet. I would rather not live in fear. 

    Many felt joining the Allies in WW2 was inadvisable, wanting instead to ignore the injustices. It was a big risk to join, and cost dearly. I still think it was worth it. While women’s equality in the Church may not be a holocaust, it could easily become such. We ARE losing many precious ones due to our marginalizing. The losses aren’t yet readily visible, but the affect of devaluing any of our membership has and will continue to have consequences.

    I am confident that women will learn their true worth, if not from the Church Administration (which again, I believe has done a better job than many), then from their own inspiration. God will not abandon his daughters, just as He has not abandoned the Jews. As women learn to embrace their worth, they will no longer concede that their only value is their their ability to perpetuate the species (which ability they share with men), whether now or in the eternities. 

    LOL, all this great chatter while I have composed my manifesto!  I’m all with you Ardis and Nobodyputsbabyincorner. Jeannine, I love what your approach! 

    And Antonio, you only got part of it in the Orthodox Jewish department. Women (and children) have very distinct roles. Most of Jewish worship is done in the home, in which Jewish women have few, but specific roles in religious rites. The nice thing, their child rearing and house-keeping responsibilities exempt them  from mandatory synagogue attendance. Saaaaweeet. No more sitting on the kids keeping them quiet! Also, Jews believe in the seven prophetesses. Check it out! http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm
    There is much to learn from other people of faith.  I will stand corrected that sermons indeed are meaningful. I enjoyed the anecdote. keep in mind that the selection of who gives the sermons done by men. 

    yeah…Mommie dearest is back and so right as usual. Oh yes, I’m so done,with the whitewashing!  And Erin’s 6 year old…Oy! Breaks my heart every time I read it. Talk about a stumble! Good thing she has good parents to help her up, bless her heart! dch42 welcome to seeing in full color! :)

    sigh, I  I’m short-reply challenged…..but I do believe I’ve had my say.

  206. Chris Kimball says:

    205 comments is awfully late to say anything. But let me throw in the hopper the idea that if Mormon religious practice were described as community meetings (generally Sunday) AND rituals, teachings, etc. in the home AND temple practice, then there would be a much better chance of seeing women in significant roles. It wouldn’t be difficult to assemble conference talks and pronouncements to say that’s how it should be.

    The practice isn’t really there. Yet? We have no collective liturgy for the home, although Family Home Evening is an obvious place to insert one and some families have their own. Temple practice excludes children generally (except for baptisms and certain live sealings) and under current rules excludes too many adults to see it as a full-fledged third leg of religious practice. But the possibility is there and intriguing.

    The cynic in me says it won’t happen in any institutionalized way, because the home, and a more open temple, are not “correlated”. That anything outside the pyramid-like controlling priesthood structure (20th and 21st century practice) will not be permitted to flourish.

    But we can move that direction in what we teach our children. We can do that today, without any additional or new direction.

  207. ‘What do I get when I turn twelve?’ Hmm… probably a period. If you’re special, maybe not till 14 or 16.

    I also agree strongly with the first part of comment 206- women both individually and collectively play a larger role in the whole of LDS faith and life than men do, it’s just not as narrowly codified.

    It’s good to see the OP end in harmony, and that it’s not some sort of manifesto. I really think this conversation does no good in our church, except on the rare occasion that it helps a girl see how important she is. Please don’t be offended, but I don’t think this conversation would even be being had if not among American women. Looking at our faith compared to others around the world, it is highly female-centric, and looking at any of our wards you can see that the women have most of the pull and almost all of the ‘know’. Who hasn’t heard the wish from a missionary that ‘if only we could ordain women to the priesthood, God’s work would have been done a long time ago’.

    It’s also clear that our priesthood leaders by and large are very free from any delusions of domination, egocentricity, or repression that are most often cited in pieces aimed at religion’s male priesthood (as DC 121 expressly says it should be). Men need to priesthood, and they need to feel special and needed, and in the church I can’t think of a better way to do it than God giving them set-in-stone priesthood responsibilities that they can’t ignore or slack on, as men would love to do otherwise. Look around in the world and you’ll see that men are largely failing and falling behind.

    Mormonism celebrates women, and I think we should refrain from trying to quench that or convincing ourselves otherwise. There is a reason that women join the church in higher numbers than men and are on average more devoted. We aren’t short changed. In my mind, men are given the priesthood because they need it to have any hope of catching up, and (despite any cliche or readers may attach to the next part), it’s true that women are given child bearing and early-life nourishment/nurturing abilities in a way that is more exclusive to men than a priesthood is to women, by far. Temple ordinances go even further, presenting a present and future priesthood element to women’s roles that comes shockingly close to removing any remaining need for men. I am glad that women don’t hold the priesthood, because I like what the priesthood does for men.

  208. Kristine says:

    “There is a reason that women join the church in higher numbers than men and are on average more devoted.”

    Yes, it is that women exhibit greater religiosity in virtually every culture and denomination than men do–it doesn’t say anything about women’s particular attraction to Mormonism, or whether or not women are “short-changed” in patriarchal religions.

  209. I’m curious how women who are searching for administrative parity view James Goldberg’s analysis of the church as a cooperative rather than competitive organization.

  210. Bonnie, that argument is useless. Would there be less cooperation if women were equal to men? Suddenly we can’t seek “altruistic highs” anymore, because women touched the priesthood and now it has cooties and men don’t want to help out anymore? Yay cooperative society, but color me skeptical that having a cooperative society necessarily relies on keeping some members of that society out of leadership.

  211. Mark Brown says:

    The amount of contempt for men which defenders of the status quo consistently display is astonishing. I pity your husbands and sons.

  212. Mark Brown (211) I agree! Essentially men are so stupid and such dirtbags that they need the Priesthood to keep them from walking off cliffs or something? Crazy!

  213. I was thinking the same thing, Mark.

    This is starting to make sense…Men are ordained to use the Priesthood because they are not spiritually inclined and tend to be lazy and and generally untrustworthy. Women are given motherhood because they are so beguiling they need to be hidden at home taking care of children even if they have no children. Motherhood, or wishing for motherhood helps keeps them humble and combats their natural inclination for vanity, pride, and witchcraft. I’m relieved to know that God knows our evil natures so well.

    I can’t be the only one who sees how flawed this is.

    Is it possible that women join the Church and remain more active in the Church in greater numbers because generally women are more social and verbal and the Church provides a place for them to socialize? Could is be that women are more culturally accustomed to being dominated and servicing unconditionally even at their own expense? Could it be that men are  tired of being shamed and put down at every Priesthood conference and Priesthood interview? Could it be that men are already overburdened with providing for their families and appropriately helping out at home and the last thing they want is another responsibility? Are Our expectations of perfection setting them up for failure? Are women more prone to perfectionism than men?Could it be that men are more inclined towards privacy and having leaders in all their business including their bedroom is a little off-putting? Could it be that stereotyping the sexes dismisses their individuality? Could it be that men and women complement each other in ALL roles? And how exactly is it that giving them roles NOT based on their gender a bad thing for Zion? Notice there IS no Zion? Could that be because we are a little too happy and content with the status quo?

    I am raising four boys.I am equally concerned with men’s issues, and what I am seeing happening to the men of our church. We should not elavate women to the point that we demean men, it’s absurd! We are buit to work togther. I believe in the Prophet and his inspiration and revelation. he needs us to sustain him through our actions and words including alerting him and the Brethren when policies are not working.

    Bonnie, thank you for the link! I enjoyed the article for what it was intended for. I’m all for the coorperative model. It is how we SHOULD be working and how we try to work, but is doesn’t seem to be in full affect yet. Ever wonder why the RS Presidency is reorganized as regularly as I mop my floor, but the Priesthood general Presidency is forever? We have kinks to work out, cultural biases to overcome, for the Church to be truly a cooperative administration. For the moment, some aspects are being run like a kingdom….with no queen…sigh….

  214. Today, as sacrament meeting was beginning, my 10 year old daughter asked: “Why don’t girls get to pass the sacrament?”

    After the sacrament, I took her outside and we talked about it for about 20 minutes. She told me she had noticed that the boys get to go camping and that the mutual age girls do crafts.

    I told her that a thought some things were primarily because of traditions and I thought this was one of them.

    She said it just wasn’t fair. I agreed.

    Hard conversation to have.

  215. Steve (214) :( It sounds like you handled it pretty well though. Even if you can’t make it better, at least she knows she can talk to her Dad about things that are bothering her. As a daughter of a here-but-absent father I can tell you it makes a big difference.

  216. After reading this post I thought back to my time as a YM’s president. What I am hearing being described here doesn’t match the experience I had while spending years working with the youth. The YW were heavily involved in the youth leadership. The Bishop equally relied on the YM and YW in the BYC. Each group had equal airtime and voice in the meetings. For Bishop Youth Discussion he alternated who conducted. For mutual the YW conducted the opening exercises unless the YW leaders asked a YM. They also led a disproportionate number of the joint activities. On Sunday the YM did the sacrament and chair set-up. Other than that, it was a pretty equal distribution of responsibilities and opportunities to serve. I think we might be downplaying the role of the YW in our church. It kind of annoys me to think of a YW saying she does nothing or a YM saying that all they do is the sacrament. The experience of youth in our church is about so much more than just Sundays. If you think your daughters don’t do anything, you might be out of touch with what is going on in the youth programs, or your daughter isn’t really engaging. This is especially true when you look at the older girls. The YM are basically following their lead and the YM leaders tend to rely heavily on the strong YW to keep the YM engaged in the joint activities. I look forward to my young daughters playing an important role in the church.

  217. An Imperfect Saint says:

    I have been holding back answering this thread. I waited until I had a chance to talk to my mom. I am the oldest of five kids, only one of whom is a boy. I figured that she must have had at least a few of these conversations over the years. I couldn’t remember having had any thoughts about wanting the priesthood, but maybe I was misremembering. I also started a conversation with my 10 year old twins, whose older brother just became a Deacon last month.

    It could be that my family is odd because my biological father was about as far away from being a good example of a worthy priesthood holder as they come. For the oldest of the three, who were all girls, we also had the experiences that go along with having a father that was an Elder’s Quorum President. (We actually used to call our selves the “Girl Haulers” after helping with well over 100 moves, by the time I was 11.

    We also had seen my mom have ward and stake callings in cub scouts and boy scouts. She went to Woodbadge when I was 11 and was on Woodbadge staff for the five years after that. She has been president or part of a presidency (on the ward and/stake level) in Primary, Young Women, Relief Society, and she had been a teaching the teacher instructor, and a literacy instructor for Relief Society.

    I am not telling you this info to brag or commiserate, but I wanted to give you some context before explaining the two conversations.

    My mother said there were three conversations that she remembered, but that only one had been with one of my sisters, the other two had been with my brother. So, this is approximately the conversations as my mom remembers them.

    1) My brother asked her when he was 11 if he could keep doing scouting if he didn’t have the priesthood. My mom assured him that there were millions of scouts that weren’t part of the church and still were scouts without having tha Aaronic priesthood. He then asked her if he could go on a mission without having the priesthood. When she told him that all missionaries had to have the Melchezedak priesthood, my brother said that he guessed that he should have the priesthood then. (My parents had been divorced for about 5 years then. He had seen the difference between my father and stepfather.)

    2) After a particularly contentious issue with our biological father my brother had another discussion with my mom. She had asked him what he wanted to do about the father/son priesthood activity. He told my mom that he was jealous of his sisters because they didn’t have the priesthood. My mom explained how important the priesthood was, especially since he wanted to go on a mission. Apparently he talked to the bishop who convinced him to keep working on his relationship with our father, and the priesthood.

    3) My youngest sister asked my mom why the Young Men got to do more camping and hiking. When my mom said it was because that was part of Boy Scouts and that since it was part of the Young Men’s program, they did the things as part of that program. My youngest sister asked who she could ask to be part of Young Men’s instead of Young Women’s. They had a long discussion about the difference between the church’s programs and that she should find the parts of Young Women that worked for her, and that there were other ways to do things we want to besides church. When she didn’t seem able to believe my mom, my mom reminded her that the things she did in drama was something she wouldn’t have been able to do in YW.

    When I casually brought up how they felt about their brother having the priesthood, both twin’s kind of shrugged. I asked them if it bothered them that they wouldn’t have the priesthood, and they both said they would rather be like me than like their dad. I said that the prophet had the priesthood, and he was a very good man. They said they were glad the prophet was a good man, but Heavenly Father wouldn’t let a bad man be the prophet. (To be honest, they seemed to think I must have lost my mind to even be asking the questions.) The older of the twins finally seemed to “understand,” and said, “Don’t worry mom, we will watch (insert brother’s name) when we are at dad’s house to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.”

    Maybe my family are just all weird, but when I was growing up, I knew a lot of different things in the church can be troublesome to certain groups. Personally, I have never wanted the priesthood, I can understand that some people see priesthood as the way to be powerful.

    I don’t see power in the priesthood, I see the chance to act in the name of God, but only the chance; not the right, and not the power or the ability to act against will will of God. I don’t see a loss in not having the priesthood. I can do the will of the Lord, by listening to His promptings and following them, just as easily as ANY of God’s children, whether they are male or female.

    I may not be able to ordain my son, but since I haven’t been ordained that makes sense. What I can and have done, is to teach him to be a young man of principles who knows how to pray, read the scriptures, listen to his heart and do what he knows is right. I taught him that. His father may have put his hands on his head to ordain my son, but his father wasn’t able to feel the spirit enough to get the ordination prayer out without prompting, never mind being able to give him a blessing beyond the words that the bishop whispered in my exhusband’s ear. My exhusband’s inability to feel the spirit or fullfill his priesthood callings is a function of his personal worthiness. My son was still ordained, he is a Deacon, but the kind of Deacon he will be has much more to do with what I taught him, than who laid his hand of his head to do the ordination.

    I don’t think that the priesthood vs motherhood fight, is a fight. My birthing of my children is one of the least important things I have done as a mother to my children. “Motherhood” is nurturing and raising the next generation to be wonderful people. Women who never birth children still have the chance to help raise the next generation of children in the church. Just as not every person will have every calling, not everyone needs to hold the priesthood. What every child does need is people in their lives to teach them that they are loved and valued and that they will have unlimited possibilities, within the range of things the Lord has provided for them.

    My feelings about gender, the priesthood, motherhood, callings and changing the world are all tied together. If I had to break it down to two sentences, they would be.

    Our Heavenly Parents know us better than anyone, and they gave us the chance to come to earth with the internal strengths, tools, and opportunities to let who we are shine bright. We don’t always see the reasons why things happen when they are happening, but each time life seems difficult, unfair or impossible to change, we are learning either to adjust to the realities of the world or adjust the world to create a better reality.

  218. “If you think your daughters don’t do anything, you might be out of touch with what is going on in the youth programs, or your daughter isn’t really engaging.”

    erm… or could it be that their ward isn’t being run like your ward, giat? I find it offensive when people assume the person who is voicing the hurt, is the person that is wrong. We may not need to accommodate them, but please, validate their pain and discomfort.

    “The YM are basically following their lead and the YM leaders tend to rely heavily on the strong YW to keep the YM engaged in the joint activities”

    To me, it sounds like you are saying that the YW are the carrot on a string for the YM, and a crutch for the YM leaders? I find this language and the assumptions behind it demeaning to both sexes. He YM are perfectly capable to step up to the plate, let’s build them up. The YW are perfectly capable of fulfilling another role outside of motivating men.

    Steve, thank you for sharing your experience. It both broke my heart and comforted me. Growing up is tough, having good parents willing to validate and stand by us makes the thought times bearable.

    Imperfect, I enjoy reading about your brother’s experience. And I agree that many (maybe even most?) women are content with the roles society has chosen for them. What a blessing that must be for them! And like Rebecca, I’m not particularly seeking the to be ordained in an office of the Priesthood, but I also don’t feel there is anything wrong with that desire.

  219. “it sounds like you are saying that the YW are the carrot on a string for the YM,”
    When you are talking about joint activites like dances that is generally what gets the YM there. YM aren’t that interested in dancing with other YM.

  220. That’s not exactly what I was referring to, but ok. That’s a very broad statement. You want your daughters participating in activities for the sole purpose of motivating YM? Is that our purpose in the Church? I find that demeans BOTH sexes. YM are more than just their Priesthood duties, and YW are more than just bait, or motivation for YM.

  221. Sorry to have engaged in this conversation. I didn’t mean to upset you with my comments. They weren’t intended the way they were received. I don’t see YW’s role at church having anything to do with motivating the YM. I have a much higher view of the role of women in the church. In reading your blog I can see you are coming from a complicated place and my comments were not very sensitive. I hope you don’t have any hard feelings, if you do I would ask your forgiveness.

  222. Giat, Please don’t be sorry!! I’m glad you engaged!!!! I feel these discussions are SOOOO important if engaged in a civilized manner (which you did…I hope I did too). They enable us to see from different perspectives and open our eyes to the bigger picture. I thought it was pretty refreshing to hear from someone in leadership who saw things functioning optimally within the limitations of our “system.” I should have mentioned that. I wanted to point out potentially hurtful language. If you were insensitive, then I was over-sensitive. No hard feeling on this end, on the contrary, and thank you. :)

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