Women 1 Priesthood 0?

Do Mormon women hold the priesthood? For the majority of Latter-day Saints, the answer is an obvious no: women do not hold the priesthood. For me, the answer is an intellectually frustrating “maybe, yes, no, dunno.” In part, I have found Quinn’s research compelling: clearly there was some sense in the 19th century that temple-endowed Mormon women were part of the “priesthood” (see also J. Stapley’s thoughts). There’s also the rather practical realisation that if Mormon women can dress in the robes of the priesthood, wear the priesthood garment, and enact the rites of the priesthood, they are quite obviously “priests” (see Compton).

On the other hand, it is not clear to me that the 19th century use of the term “priesthood” has an equivalent in modern Mormonism (let alone in wider religious theory). Just because Mormon women could be members of an Anointed Quorum, for example, does not mean that they held the “priesthood” in any sense that would be meaningful for us today. Also, it’s rather obvious that priesthood or no, women are not ordained to priesthood office. For me, I believe there is “a priesthood” available to Mormon women, but I don’t quite know where to situate it and we would need an authorised clarification in order to better understand it.

One thing Quinn has written particularly catches my eye. He suggests that the lack of ordination of women, and the separation of Mormon womens’ “priesthood” from the bureaucratic function of the church may, in fact, be a useful thing:

A church president continued to affirm the role of women as prophetesses into the twentieth century. “I believe that every mother has the right to be a prophetess and to have the gift of sight, foreseeing prescience, to foresee danger and evil and to know what to do in her family and in her sphere,” Joseph F. Smith affirmed in 1913. “They are prophetesses, they are seers, they are revelators to their households and to their families . . .”Without ordination to specific offices of priesthood, women have avoided aspirations and abuses common to church offices reserved for men (D&C 121:34-40) [emphasis mine].

According to this latter formulation by Quinn, priesthood office, whilst an important cog in the machinery of the kingdom, affords power to the holder and therefore runs the risk of being abused. Priesthood office means that men often serve busily in the priesthood bureaucracy of the church and may find themselves tempted by the power of position (a situation D&C 121 finds inevitable). Less encumbered by this risk, a woman may be free to be a “prophetess” in what is now mostly an organisation of “priests.”(And not just “in her family,” I would say.) [1]

I would like to make two things clear. First, whilst I am attracted to this idea, I would not wish to use it as an apologia for why women should not hold priesthood office. It is a potential benefit that arises from (but is not the basis of) the status quo. Second, I realise that “woman-as-prophet” is not a natural notion in the church today, so this may be an unfulfilled opportunity and one difficult to realise. (And a third, I guess: not all men with priesthood office are power-hungry autocrats! And of course, some women are exactly that. Women abuse leadership positions in the church too. But they cannot fall on their priesthood office to justify it.)

Still, I feel that this notion offers something for those who would like to raise the status of women in the church. We can even disagree entirely with Quinn’s idea, but still use it to remind us that “prophet(ess)” is not a priesthood office, and that lack of office need not mean a lack of women’s voices and a void in the application of women’s gifts for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. In fact, according to Quinn, lack of office may be what ought to bring these gifts to the fore, if we would let them.

Whilst questions of women’s priesthood should continue to be explored, it must also be accepted that any radical movement in the church can only be enacted by people whose authority is greater than our own. Until then, it may be a dead-end. But we can, at the level of family and ward, better allow women to exercise their gifts. I think there is an opportunity (unfulfilled?) for women to be prophets[2] in the appropriate way. I invite your suggestions as to how women can fill this apposite role.


1. The idea of priest vs. prophet is probably rather simplistic but remains useful nevertheless. It maintains that spiritual movements often begin through the actions of the “prophet,” full of charisma and often an offender of orthodoxy. As spiritual movements become religions, the “priest” then comes to govern the ecclesiastical structure that coalesces around the prophet’s teachings. Over time, religions tend to be priestly rather than prophetic.

2. Shall we define “prophet”? How about: 1. Someone with a testimony of Jesus, and who finds the opportunity to share that witness 2. Someone with the gift of “prophecy,” or special insight into her own spiritual affairs and those of others. An appendage to these might be the exercise of the other gifts of the spirit that a woman is entitled to enjoy. And yes, I realise that the question of spheres of authority makes all of this rather tricky. But there you go.


  1. Family:

    1. The Mother’s “Interview” i.e. make children also accountable to their mothers in questions of religion and morality.
    2. Be sure that mothers are given an equal opportunity to have the “last word” in family councils and family home evenings.
    3. Remind women that in the absence of the priesthood, there is no harm in them gathering up their sick children in their arms and offering a prayer of faith and having hope in the spiritual gift of healing.
    3.5 Perhaps when a father blesses a child, the mother could hold the child’s hand or hold the infant, thus having some tactile connection with the blessing; if spiritually appropriate, the blessing might voice the hope that the gift of healing also be poured out on the child through the faith of the mother.
    4. Men should council with their wives before offering blessings. Let women prayerfully consider what words of blessing they would like to hear. This is particularly relevant in the naming and blessing of children.


    1. Stamp-out the incorrect practice of only allowing men to offer opening prayers in sacrament meeting.
    2. Let women offer the final talk more often (I’m not sure if this is “against the rules,” but in most wards I’ve been in, men speak last. When my wife and I speak, I’m always put last on the bill. Of course, for some Mormon men, speaking last means their wives give them no time to talk at all!)
    3. Is there anything wrong with the man/woman home teaching model?
    4. Could women hold more positions in non-priesthood offices? Sunday School president? What about clerk or executive secretary?


    1. Hope for and gently advocate for more women’s voices on a church-wide level. I would be happy to hear more often from women leaders at Stake and General Conference. And in the Ensign. I would also like to hear not just from more women, but more non-white women too.

    These are just random ideas. I am willing to be persuaded about the appropriateness of any of them.

    Mostly, I’d like to make sure that my wife and daughter’s voices and spiritual gifts have equal room to influence me, my sons, and the church. No “priesthood” is required for this, but alas, it seems to be that many Mormon women are kept back from more than just priesthood office.

  2. …women have avoided aspirations and abuses common to church offices reserved for men.

    Assuming that was true in 1913, I think we can safely say that it no longer is. But I suspect even then that Pres. Smith was taking a very idealistic view. I do not believe that women are any less prone to being overbearing, abusive, or bossy than men are. I say this based on years of experience of watching my wife come home from RS, YW, and Primary presidency meetings frustrated and in tears at the feelings of being steamrolled by the others in the presidency. And the Primary president I served under as a teacher missed her true calling in life, as a drill sergeant at Marine corps boot camp. She was in her glory only when barking out orders

    I think the structure is already in place in the local organization for the RS president to be thought of as another counselor to the bishop. There are lots of things concerning the temporal welfare of the ward members that only the bishop and RS president need to know about, so her inspiration should be given greater consideration than that of the other members of the bishopric. The relationship between the bishop and RS president really is one almost like marriage, where both parties need to mutually respect the inspiration their counterpart might be getting, and strive for consensus. A bishop who acts without the consent of the RS president is foolish.

  3. Mark,

    That was Quinn’s comment at the end of that paragraph, not Smith’s.

    I agree that any appeal to some kind of special righteousness enjoyed by women would be ridiculous and patronising. I think that Quinn is simply suggesting that whilst women can be “overbearing, abusive, or bossy” in the church, there isn’t so much opportunity for them to do that and pull rank. And your wife’s experience in RS may be the exception that proves the rule, btw.

    Anyway, I’m not saying I’m convinced by it, but the point is wider: just because a woman cannot hold a priesthood office, does not mean she has no role to play in the spiritual life of the church. And by spiritual life I do not mean Primary President, important though that calling is. Also, is the RS president only relevant in terms of her insight on “temporal affairs”? (Vital though that is.)

    So, I’m interested in the end in how women can be “prophets” in the olde sense.

  4. Ronan, this is a great post. Thank you.

    I also like your list in comment # 1. I have the following comments to those:


    These are all great and I would point out that these things are likely already being done in numerous righteous homes.


    My sense is that only allowing men to offer opening prayers in sacrament meeting is very rare. Since it comes up all the time on LDS blogs, it must still be happening somewhere in the world.

    If wards are actually employing a policy to have a man speak last in sacrament meeting, then it would be worth it to drop that policy.

    In my last ward I had a man/woman home teaching companionship responsible for me. I am not sure that it fully complies with what is envisioned in the D&C but those requirements can be fulfilled in other ways than through the home teaching program. I think it is a great idea but could be tricky if the man/woman home teaching couple has children that would need tending if both parents were to be out and about home teaching. That could be a small practical complication. I think your # 4 can and should be the case.

  5. Peter LLC says:


    Yesterday at church I heard reference to the “President of the Relief Society Quorum” over the pulpit; a slip of the tongue or presage of things to come?

  6. Peter,
    Speaking of the RS in 1842, Joseph stated that, “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood…I am going to make of this Society a kingdom of Priests.” Emma was also a member of the Anointed Quorum. So it’s not so bizarre a notion, I guess.

  7. Mostly, I’d like to make sure that my wife and daughter’s voices and spiritual gifts have equal room to influence me, my sons, and the church.

    Some other ideas:

    The family council needs to be more clearly presented and modelled as a gathering of consensus and forum for communication, not a mechanism for the father head to throw down his law.
    PEC needs to go. Get the RS pres there for every regular ward leadership meeting. (This is already common, and is totally approved as the discretion of the bishop.)
    Primary presidencies should be encouraged and trained to be more assertive advocates for children with their real-life struggles.
    The often excellent work the YW do for their personal progress should be celebrated and shared at every step.
    We have a monthly ward newsletter that has space for articles and essays by ward members. We have an unwritten policy that a woman is always invited to do the writing for page 3. (Yes, Ronan, I realize we have a page 3 girl in our ward newsletter.)

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    We Mormons tend to conflate priesthood and prophetic gifts, but of course in the OT they are largely separate. So a focus on prophetic gifts as an appropriate religious sphere for women (given the current restriction on priesthood office) seems like a useful idea to explore.

    (I like your lists of practical ideas.)

    On men only giving the opening prayer in Sac. mtg., it is not rare at all, but rather widespread. It does not obtain in my stake, thankfully. But I’m part of a private e-mail list of over 100 members from a wide geographic spectrum, and we asked people what their local practices were on this issue, and a very substantial minority reported that this was indeed the practice in their stakes as a part of the “unwritten order of things.” (Multiple reports of this stupid practice came from California, for example.)

  9. Ronan,
    some great suggestions. When I was in a branch presidency we often asked women to be the last speaker instead of men. For us it was a judgement call on who would give the most powerful talk. It ended up being about 50/50. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen in my current ward.

  10. Women not being allowed to give opening prayers was a specific directive given to our Stake within the last three years by a general authority. This is not heresay.

  11. I meant “hearsay”.

  12. My bishop father was also directed by the area authority who lives in his ward that a priesthood holder should offer the opening prayer. My father, who is usually aware of all policies and procedures was caught a little off guard by it.

    This happened about 3 years ago.

  13. There were wards in Cambridge MA with women in jobs akin to executive secretary, in both the singles’ wards there and I think Cambridge I, women have complete control over planning sacrament meetings and even go to some bishopric meetings so as to know the needs of the wards. These are such an anomaly though, I don’t think Mormon women have access to these sorts of callings generally and consequently don’t connect themselves to having any sort of power.

    Here’s a story to relate my frustration with these ideas, Ronan. I think I have a spiritual gift teaching. I tell my bishop this over and over again (this was some years ago in Boston) and he says no, and I must make the food for Munch and Mingle. Okay, I get it, I can’t have every calling I ask for, though I know men that do get callings they request. I’m conniving though, and I want to use my gifts so I talk to the SS president and ask to be the on-call sub. I teach many Sundays. Then I teach a lesson on whether or not gay people still have access to their spiritual gifts post coming out, and I am then told I cannot hold any sort of calling at all in the wards because I’m dangerous. The bishop enforces this until I move away.
    I know that my lesson may have been a little incendiary because gays were mentioned (though I didn’t condone anything, I was just trying to explore inclusion in regards to spiritual gifts) but I know many many men in less liberal wards even that can get away with much more “dangerous” stuff, especially if they are good at their calling, like I am good at teaching. Entirely anecdotal but I know many women who have gotten kaboshed when exploring their spiritual gifts in their callings. It makes me believe that there is no Priesthood or prophetessness that I have access to. Though obviously I’m still a lil bitter.

  14. I’ll test the opening prayer thing: I know we’ll have several GAs and CES people in our sac mtg next Sunday, and I’m conducting. I’ll ask a woman to open-pray and see what happens.

  15. Great idea, Norbert! Let us know what happens.

    I have been asked many times to give the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting, both in (gasp) California, and overseas. I’ve never really noticed a big discrepency between gender and prayer-giving.

    I really liked this post, Ronan, because I’ve thought that there is a great spiritual power available and ready for all women, but we just don’t feel comfortable tapping into it, or talking about it. Kind of like you-know-who-in-Heaven. Anyway, I think women have to be able to hold the priesthood in a certain way, or the temple doesn’t make sense. This isn’t something I’d readily admit in real life, because people would think I’m crazy or heretical, but since I’m not married to a priesthood holder, I feel like I can share in Heavenly Father’s priesthood power directly and sometimes try to tap into it (like when I gave my son a healing blessing).

    Also, I currently have an elderly missionary couple as my VT/HT team. But of course, we’re half way ’round the world, so what do we know?!

  16. Amri,
    I’m never going to claim this is smooth sailing.

    Re: women and invocations. Spencer Kimball revoked that rule years ago. I find it stunning that a man is considered by some to be more appropriate than my mother or my wife to open a meeting with prayer.

  17. Ronan, maybe they are operating under a mistaken conception that it is an actual priesthood ordinance like blessing the sacrament; if that is the case, then it wouldn’t so much be that they think that a man is more appropriate to do it but rather they would just think that a man is required to do it as a priesthood holder. But absent such a misconception, I don’t see any possible doctrinal or other kind of justification for maintaining a policy like that.

  18. they are operating under a mistaken conception that it is an actual priesthood ordinance

    If so, then there are a few people out there who are as thick as two short planks. But I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think anyone believes that the invocation is a priesthood ordinance, even those who advocate that only men should offer them.

  19. Ronan, one issue is that there are still powerful advocates of the ideas regarding female prayer. Not all GAs, of course — or there would probably be a formal policy. But one of my mission presidents got chewed out by a member of the QofA for having a female missionary give the wrong prayer in a meeting.

    I wonder why men wouldn’t benefit from the protection of not holding and abusing priesthood office? Is this protection a one-sex blessing, or would the same argument suggest that hierarchy is a danger to everyone?

  20. JNS,
    I don’t think Quinn would say that it is a protection by design, just that it is a consequence, perhaps coincidentally beneficial, of the current system. As Mark points out, LDS women can abuse power too. (But the scope and opportunity to do so is lessened. Given that, Quinn seems to be saying, some Mormon women so blessed can perhaps strengthen their “un-priestly” prophetic gifts. Question is, can they really?)

  21. jothegrill says:

    I am grateful that I never have to worry about being called as ward executive secretary or anything like that. I mean I like my bishop and all, but I really don’t want to hang out with him every week for a few hours. It would be awkward for me. Also I don’t like callings that take me away from my children for long periods of time. My sweet husband doesn’t either, but at least he gets to go hang out with other guys which he does enjoy.

  22. jtg,
    Thanks. That’s exactly the counter argument I’m interested in hearing.

  23. jothegrill says:

    Also, I like the prophetess idea. It seems that my mother has a gift for this. Even for people outside her family who come to her for advice she often gets strong spiritual confirmations about what course they should pursue. I’m glad she is not to afraid to use this gift. It has helped so many people.

  24. Ronan I really like your suggestions.

    I have one as well, for church wide usage. Offer plausable apologia to clarify or reimage remarks from scriptures in the past which may have been taken to promote gender inequality. (I try my hand at this here.)

    For those fighting against the injustices of gender inequality in the online forums:
    Stop undermining your own argument by publicly pointing out when the authorities say something you consider sexist. Instead, privately write them a letter expressing your concerns and publicly put forth statements which you agree with and want to support. This way, you lend the appeal to authority to your arguments instead of setting yourself up as being against the authority. This sort of game strategy gets much more mileage and success.

    For the family: Ask your spouse about gender equality. Make it a point to discuss things like gender equality in FHE. (Do people really have family councils? Maybe I just only have little kids, but this just seems like “death by meeting”)

    In the Ward:
    Even in Families where the Bishop images himself as the CEO of the organization (Not my point of view, but I know some people do feel this way), he’d do well to read some leadership books like “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” or “Leadership and self-deception” to get a proper conception of what they are supposed to be doing.

  25. As an aside on the prophetic and pristly gifts of a woman. I woke up Sunday morning to discover a giant post it attached to the monitor of my computer. (Go hometeaching today. Call your families now!) Being a little irritated by this (I am a crap hometeacher, after all) I asked my wife why, and she told me she had a prompting. So I went home teaching yesterday, and my wife was right to send me. It was good. How’s that for the prophetic power of a wife?

  26. Truly there is a prophetess in the land, Matt…!

  27. Ronan, great post. Quinn’s chapter ultimately falls apart on close examination, but still, your post doesn’t hinge on the accuracy of his analysis. I am very much on the charismatic bandwagon that you hint at. Joseph was all about crystallizing the power of God in the forms of the church, but he loathed the forms in the absence of the power. He eventually affirmed the extension of the forms to women, in many important cases.

  28. I really feel uncomfortable saying some of the things I’m about to say because they play into the typical stereotyping that occurs inside the church and outside as well. But having spent a lifetime in the church I find there is some truth to these things.

    First of all, we often joke about how organized the organizations run by the women are (RS, YW, Primary) and how haphazard the priesthood quorums can sometimes be. I think there is much truth in that and that women are great organizers in other positions like Activites Chairman, Music Chairman, etc. That’s not to say that the priesthood orgnaizations are worthless or without value, it’s just that the women’s groups, in my experience, have typically been better organized.

    Woman are often better teachers, especially for children, not because they have a better spirit or because they are more knowledgable, but because they go the extra mile in preparation. Once again, according to my experience.

    That being said, it seems the priesthood, rather than being a power trip or an ego trip, is about the only thing left to give men a valuable experience in the church. And while I’m sure there are some men who look at it as a position of power, the vast majority of us see it a completely humbling circumstance.

    I approach any invitation to give a blessing with complete humility, certain of my inadequacy, but hopeful that the Lord will look past my failings and work through my hands. I see the priesthood as a great blessing in my life and I appreciate the chance to be of service to others.

    Having said all that let me say that I love the brothers in my HP group and feel we have a very enjoyable and valuable time together. And – if tomorrow the prophet said that women would receive the priesthood starting this Sunday, I would not bat an eye. Women are so strong in so many aspects of the gospel and men are as well – sometimes in different aspects. If their roles got a little more intermixed I would be the last to complain.

  29. My wife decides who prays in the home and she and I entirely jointly make important decisions for the family. I haven’t noticed about the male invocation practice. We relished Cambridge 1 where we felt a Zion vision really did obtain. We hear john f’s coed HT crew were a little daft, though.

    As far as Priesthood for Women ala the RS founding, I have historical reservations about it. I think Smith saw priesthood as representing the novel genealogical system which encompassed all of humanity when he referred to priesthood in that setting. I would go on record as not suggesting that this means women ought not to have priesthood, merely that invoking such an antecedent is historically somewhat problematic.

    Prophetesses in Puritan New England actually prophesied, and not all of them were run out of town on Anne Hutchinson’s rail. Women today might feel a little silly predicting or interpreting the weather or meteor showers or finding lost cattle as prophetesses, but maybe not.

    Thanks for a wonderfully rich post, R. I think it’s important for there to be more voices that affirm their devotion to the actual institutional church while loving women’s voices, minds, and spirits, rather than simply their physical and maternal service.

    As far as Quinn’s argument, this priesthood system arose in a culture that was struggling mightily with the domestic dominance of the Victorian wife as a dangerous impediment to the pluralized glory of the Mormon patriarch. Complex history here, but maybe it’s time for us to have a fresh start and think about these from beyond neo-Victorianism, from a Zion perspective.

  30. Ronan, thank you for a great post. My own personal belief, which has evolved from an acceptance of Quinn’s assertions, (primarily due to many spirited conversations with J. Stapley) is that priesthood is conferred upon women through the second anointing, and even then there seems to be little evidence that women were envisioned to hold priesthood office, even during Joseph’s life. There are many questions to address here and my response could be a post in itself so for now I think I will make a few practical suggestions.

    (1) I think we need to include women in the ritual life of the church. Yes, I know that a small number of primarily older women do so in the temple, but I think restoring women’s public role as healers would increase perceptions and acceptance of women’s spiritual power and authority. I have no doubt that women can heal through their faith now, but the current structure seems to inadvertently exclude women. When I have suggested to friends that as well as getting a priesthood blessing when they are sick, they call a circle of their closest female friends to them to unite in prayer and call down the blessings of heaven in their behalf, I am almost always met with tears as women imagine the power of that possible moment. However, many feel that somehow they would be doing something “wrong”, despite the fact that no priesthood, no laying on of hands would be involved.

    (2) Like it or not, currently the primary milestones in an LDS woman’s life is getting married or having a baby. While we tend to throw showers for the woman in question, the only prayer is generally a blessing on the food. Most women (in and out of the church) find this to be a less than satisfying, consumeristic ritual. Why not once again invoke the spiritual power that is available to us? Similarly, why not focus upon the fact that a woman is receiving her endowment. My own personal program as a YW leader is “Take yourself to the temple!” No young woman in my class will be told to keep herself clean until some young man takes her to the temple. While I understand the policies and the circumstances through which young people are encouraged to take out their endowments and acknowledge the importance of being sealed, I think we neglect the importance of these events on an individual level, particularly for YW receiving those signs and tokens. This would also be more inclusive of single women.

    (3) Let’s get rid of the idea of the “last word” in marriage for men or women. Could women be included as witnesses at a baptism? As many have suggested in the past, we need to revamp manuals, as well as the YW program. Kristine had a great idea about a bishop giving YW a blessing as they progress through the program as some sort of an acknowledgement. Let mothers hold their babies during blessings. We could easily give a RS President more power without changing much structurally in the church. Finally, why could a mother not give her child a blessing without invoking any priesthood? Every autumn, when my husband gives my kids a blessing before they go back to school I re-visit this issue

    I recognize that this might not go far enough for some people. They might not even qualify as feminist in some realms. I have more to say :) but I would like to note that women often open Sacrament meeting with a prayer and are the concluding speaker in my ward. We also have a married couple as my HT/VTs

  31. Ronan refers to Todd Compton’s Dialogue article,
    “’Kingdom of Priests’: Priesthood, Temple, and Women in the Old Testament and in the Restoration,” (Dialogue, 36: 3, Fall 2003).

    Compton describes the the role of priests and “priesthood” in the Old Testament, and suggests that Joseph Smith’s extension of portions of that role to women (entering the temple, receiving and giving washings/annointings, ordaining women “to the highest and holiest order of the priesthood,”etc.) means that from an O.T. viewpoint, Mormon women are significant participants in a “priesthood.”

  32. Ronan #20, I’m not sure that I understand your response. Is this idea of exercising prophetic gifts without priesthood office a second-best consolation prize? Or is it simply better than having office along with the temptation to abuse? If the second is true, then we ought perhaps to pray that priesthood office be taken away from men, too. Alternatively, is there something inherent about women that makes it better for them to exercise prophetic gifts outside of hierarchy, while there is something inherent about men that makes it better for them to act within hierarchy — in spite of temptations to abuse power?

    Prophetic gifts are, of course, gifts of the Spirit — and as such purely independent of priesthood or calling. On that point, I am fully in agreement with you. Men and women can and should exercise these gifts whether they have priesthood or not. But, in light of this independence between priesthood and prophecy, why would we see women’s ability to prophesy and exercise charismatic gifts outside of priesthood callings as compensatory in any way?

  33. Stirling,
    Indeed. As I said, if you wear priesthood clothing and perform priesthood ordinances, you are a priest. The end. Trouble is, the Old Testament model and the Mormon model are distant cousins at best.

  34. Kris and Stapley, I’m intrigued by your position on women’s priesthood. On your account, it would seem that women who serve as ordinance workers in the temple but who haven’t received the second anointing are carrying out priesthood ordinances without priesthood authority.

  35. JNS (#32),
    I really cannot comment any further on that one…

  36. But you’re right to see the problem in Kris and Stapley’s assertion!

    It would be cruel indeed to say that women can receive the priesthood, but only if they can get in a time machine and go back to the days when the second anointing was common, or if they somehow manage to marry an apostle. See my #33 to see why the endowment priesthood is a real, functioning priesthood. But neither it, nor the “fulness,” constitute a priesthood of operative power in the church (outside the temple) today. In fact, they may be much more than that, which is the great irony in all of this. And btw, if A is the “fulness” of B, then B is akin to A, just not its “fulness”!

  37. JNS (34), I think that it is important that during the 19th century all that did administer the ordinances of the temple had received all the ordinances first (hence the many references as serving as “priestess in the temple”) We have made a lot of accommodations in the 20th century.

    Still, Ronan is quite correct that women now wear priesthood clothing and participate in ordinances, and therefore have priestly attributes.

  38. David Brosnahan says:

    Yes, any woman who is endowed and sealed holds the Melchezidek Priestood. Her responsiblilites in the priesthood differ from that of a man who holds it. Her office in the priesthood is that of Mother in Zion and other various axilliary callings within the church which are under the direction of the Priesthood. Out of respect for her more important calling as mother, God does not burden women with the outward responsibilities of a Bishop (tithing, finances, sacrament meeting, discipline).

    As far as ordinances and blessings are concerned; there are several that are reserved for women in the Temple and outside the temple such as the initatory (washings and annointings) for other women. Also, the 2nd annointing that was forshadowed in the annointing that Jesus recieves by the woman in the house of Simon the Leper.

  39. Yes, any woman who is endowed and sealed holds the Melchezidek Priestood.


  40. Stapley (37),
    Good point.

    And Kris, I love your suggestions.

  41. If priesthood is the “power” and “authority” to act in God’s name, women have had the priesthood since the beginning of time.

  42. Stapley, I don’t think there’s a clear justification for your categorical in #39. Historically, the picture is muddled, and theologically there’s a solid argument for David’s case. Women who administrate in temple ordinances these days — the vast majority of all LDS temple ordinances have occurred since the second anointing became exceptionally rare — either (a) have priesthood or (b) are performing priesthood ordinances without priesthood. There may be arguments about why (b) is acceptable, but there are clearly arguments that (a) is the case. In any case, theological arguments like this, where the standard works are largely silent, aren’t really amenable to categorical responses.

  43. Jon in Austin says:

    Then I teach a lesson on whether or not gay people still have access to their spiritual gifts post coming out

    I can think of easier ways to get released from a calling. But not many.

  44. A gentle hint:

    The point of the post is to explore the role of women’s (prophetic) voices in the church. I’m not policing the thread — mostly because I love it when Stapley et. al. dust off their 19th century journals — but I fear it’s ultimately a dead end.


  45. Ronan: interesting comment. Your suggestions are indeed about women’s prophetic voices in the church — and not priesthood. Indeed, at the end of the day, I don’t think your post is about priesthood, is it? It’s about prophetic gifts that all members may possess and that women may sometimes not be encouraged to express due to sexism.

  46. #30 Kris said “I think we need to include women in the ritual life of the church. Yes, I know that a small number of primarily older women to so in the temple…”

    I love all of your suggestions but I want you know that the shift I work at the Washington DC Temple is staffed primarily by young single women. There are also some newly married women (without children) who serve with their husbands. And while there are, in fact, some “older women” included, the remainder of the women are about the same age as my wife (in her early 50s) and I’m sure she doesn’t think of herself as an older woman. ;-)

    I know the women who work there love serving and I can’t help believe that following some of your suggestions would only enhance the experience for women in the church and for all of us.

  47. JNS,
    And “prophecy” — in all its manifestations — may be an apposite gift for women to exercise given the nature of the current LDS ecclesiology.

  48. StillConfused says:

    I grew up in the South where men always said the prayers. And I must admit that I liked it. On the downside, I am still afraid to pray in public.

    I have no interest in having the priesthood. When men start sharing the responsibility of pregnancy, I will start sharing the responsibility of the priesthood. Church is the one place where I still feel like a woman. That may offend some folks but I enjoy that.

  49. Well, regardless of which side of the women and the priesthood debate you take, #38 is wrong because he says:

    “Yes, any woman who is endowed and sealed holds the Melchezidek Priestood.”

    There is no requirement to be sealed in order to be a temple worker and perform temple ordinances, so sealing has little or nothing to do with at least that part of the question.

  50. My patriarchal blessing says I have the gift of prophecy, and I have had a couple of experiences of this with something in my own life. I’d hesitate to ever say that in a church setting, as spiritual gifts nowadays tend to be linked with the priesthood, and I think many find it hard to separate the two.

    Ronan- love your list (#1) and Kris – love yours too (#30)

  51. JinA- I know right? Sheesh. Still I felt completely sideswiped. The week before the teacher had talked about how the Holocaust fit in with God’s plan. I’m trying to figure out if I regret the lesson since it’s changed my interaction with the Church. A really prominent member of the ward (well recognized for his spiritual gifts) was about to come out and I wanted people to talk about it generally.

    I’m with JNS that obvious and/or frequent display of women’s spiritual gifts, regardless of fitting gender roles, does not equal women holding the Priesthood, but I think that if we had equal access to and use of these spiritual gifts that the inequality of Priesthood holding would matter less.

  52. Space Chick says:

    I am SO incredibly relieved to discover that not being ordained to the priesthood protects women from the temptation to abuse that authority!

    Ok, sarcasm aside…Quinn’s argument that we’ve thus avoided the aspirations and abuses priesthood holders are vulnerable to, while retaining the ability to be prophetesses and exercise spiritual power, doesn’t hold water for me. If there’s an official channel for authority, then anything outside that channel becomes suspect and unapproved. The idea of women exercising their talents or inspiration as prophetesses outside priesthood power is meaningless unless it’s officially recognized as an acceptable means of wielding spiritual power. Plus, the lack of overt authority simply forces any women who would have abused their priesthood (if they were ordained) to seek for covert authority, and the ways anyone gains or maintains power unofficially or off the organizational chart are far more dangerous because they require you to be more manipulative and sneaky, which makes them more difficult to detect and nearly impossible to stamp out. Better to have someone like that out in the open, where you can identify abuses and call them on it.

    Couples as home teachers only works if the sister is NOT assigned as a visiting teacher, otherwise she’s got double duty. And I recommend the Elder’s Quorum check with the Relief Society presidency and the sister, or he’s way out of his lane in making assignments for the sisters.

    On the positive side, the other speaker for High Council Sunday this week was a member of the Primary Presidency, and she was great.

  53. U.S. stakes were specifically instructed recently to drop the “unwritten” practice of having priesthood brethren offer the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. I’m in a stake presidency and the stake president read this letter to us and the bishops in our stake.

  54. Naismith says:

    I feel that this notion offers something for those who would like to raise the status of women in the church.

    I’m having a hard time understanding why anyone would like to “raise the status” of women. Why isn’t being an equal marriage partner and godess in embryo not enough? What more do “those” want?

  55. Naismith,
    Rejoice and be happy.

  56. Skip,

    When did your stake receive the letter re dropping the unwritten practice of only inviting men to say the opening prayer in sacrament meeting? Our stake only instituted that practice a couple of months ago, and wonder when we will get the memo overriding the unwritten order.

  57. Naismith says:

    I think the structure is already in place in the local organization for the RS president to be thought of as another counselor to the bishop.

    And why would that be better than the status quo? I guess I don’t think of a counselor in the bishopric as having “higher status” than a RS president.

    This kinda reminds me of people trying to give a back-handed compliment like, “She thinks (or runs or shoots) like a man!”

    There are lots of things concerning the temporal welfare of the ward members that only the bishop and RS president need to know about, so her inspiration should be given greater consideration than that of the other members of the bishopric.

    Well, yeah. Isn’t it currently? In my experience, it has been.

  58. Space Chick,
    I am kind of hoping that some of the suggestions outlined above are both neither about seeking “covert authority” nor outside of acceptable ecclesiastical norms.

  59. #56 DavidH: I will track it down. I’m amazed how persistent this silly policy has been. We were instructed in our stake in 2003 by the visiting authority to only have men offer opening prayers, but were then told by our visiting authority in 2006 that it had been discontinued, after which we received the confirming letter that I will try to get.

  60. Kevin Barney says:

    skip, it would be a great service if you could track that letter down for us. This has literally been a problem for decades. There are apparently certain GAs who have a pet bugaboo about it and instruct stakes they visit to only allow men to give the opening prayer, in violation of the handbook (which says men and women may pray in sac. meetings). Apparently they are doing it this way because by making an oral command there is no paper trail and they have plausible deniability. And rare is the SP who knows enough about the background to this silliness and has the backbone to stand up to a visiting GA.

    If the Church wants to have a policy of only allowing men to give the opening prayer, it should have the cojones to put it in writing and distribute to all of its units worldwide. I feel confident that the Church as such has no such policy, and that it only continues to live on (decades after it should have died) due to this local advocacy by a few individual GAs, who in my view are acting without authority in this matter.

  61. Kristine says:

    Skip, if you get a copy, I’d love to have it too. I’m thinking about trying to write a paper on the history of this “policy.”

  62. How’s that for synchronicity? I just had my first exposure this morning to this idea of Joseph extending priesthood to women. (Was reading Quinn’s Origins of Power.) Very infomative, Ronan, thanks.

  63. If Skip can find that Copy, anyway BCC can post it like the posted the letter from Nibley to my FiL? That would be pretty great.

  64. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes, Matt W., a scanned copy would be best. Get it to J. Stapley.

  65. Okay, #60, 61, 63, 64, the pressure’s on–I’ve e-mailed a request to our SP and will keep you advised.

  66. David Brosnahan says:

    #38, 39, 42

    Stapley- You may be right in the sense that part of the purpose of the 2nd Annointing, among other things, was for the wife to claim the priesthood of her husband. It may be that they don’t officially hold it until then. I don’t know.

  67. Four points from a newcomer, after telling everyone how much I love this thread:

    1) In our Gospel Principles lesson last Sunday, we discussed the Priesthood. The manual says, “(Men) must have priesthood authority to act in the name of God when performing the sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple marriage. …Men need the priesthood to preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to direct the work of the Church in all parts of the world.” There are no other stipulations that restrict women from exercising their spiritual gifts outside of specific Priesthood ordinances and the work of presiding.

    2) From the Bible dictionary, “In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost.” That is how it was used in the Old Testament and certainly includes female phrophetesses.

    3) Father’s blessings don’t require the Priesthood. Neither do mother’s blessings – or any individual or collective prayer of faith.

    4) I believe the notion that women can’t hold their children when Priesthood blessings are given is an over-application of the custom of saying “through the power of the Priesthood which we hold, we take this infant in our arms” – which, interpreted literally, would imply that all who are holding the infant must be men. That is an interpretation of a custom extended to other ordinances. It shouldn’t be necessary, but if one changes the wording to “we present this infant” – or “we bring this infant before Thee” – or if hands are placed very lightly on the infant’s head and the wording is “we lay our hands upon his/her head”, then the conflict disappears completely.

  68. Regarding a “woman’s right to give the invocation in sacrament meeting,” my SP just wrote back to say he was reading from his notes at an area coordinating council meeting with a member of the seventy. So, unfortunately, it appears that this policy may continue to have unequal application depending on the area, since it apparently was not given in the form of a letter from the brethren. My SP promised to double-check his file, so I’ll post later if his recollection is faulty.

  69. #54 Naismith- I am steping into uncharted waters on this blog but wanted to say that I agree with your comments. I do not understand why some women want to take an additional mantel upon themselves. I personally feel that I have enough to keep me growing until the ends of time. Why I would want to add to what I am already blessed with seems somewhat ungratful to me.

  70. Nice post Ronan. I want to add my hearty “amen” to the idea that we should have many more confident prophetesses in the church. There is no reason why women should regularly heal, prophesy, work mighty miracles, etc. All the things that matter most (even while we wait for various dumb policies to fade away).

    (Of course those things and all the gifts of the spirit are extremely rare among priesthood holders too … )

  71. “There is no reason why women should regularly heal, prophesy, work mighty miracles, etc”
    Geoff, that is exactly it! You put your finger on it for me. I have never felt the need to have the priesthood but have felt that something was missing, that women were less visible. But if women were encouraged to heal and work miracles, men and women would be on more equal footing with men’s authority more just in ecclesiastical matters. Can you imagine a YW program that teaches girls to access these powers? What a difference it would make for everyone! How can we move toward this amazing transformation in thought?

  72. For all we know, the Godhead may consist not only of Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, but also an unseen (to us) quorum of Heavenly Father’s multiple wives, who actually hold a position senior to Heavenly Father.

    For all we know, Heavenly Father may be working off of a set of “divine honey-do’s” ever since they all attained exaltation as a family.

    Just as the Holy Ghost and angels sometimes use “divine investiture” to speak as if they were the Savior, and as how the Savior sometimes uses divine investiture to speak in the name of Heavenly Father, perhaps Heavenly Father receives divine investiture from the Quorum of Heavenly Mothers, who may be the real power behind the scenes. We just don’t know.

    There seems to be an additional veil behind Heavenly Father, beyond which not even the prophets have seen.

    It is only by extrapolating backwards from the incomplete paradigm revealed to us so far concerning our eternal progression that we can speculate as to previous generations of exalted beings.

    We just don’t know what the division of labors are between an exalted husband and wife.

    I sometimes feel sorry for those who think that our eternal futures are going to be unfairly hobbled by our present imperfect understanding and feeble execution of divine principles.

    As a whole, we do such an imperfect job of living up to what has been revealed to us so far, that we can scarce expect for more to be revealed to us at this time, or else it would work to our condemnation.

    The more I learn, the more I appreciate Joseph Smith’s teaching that there is even more to learn beyond the veil.

  73. Sally (#71), The enumeration of spiritual gifts in the scriptures talks about those who believe. It doesn’t say the men who believe, or the adults who believe, or the members who believe, but merely them or those “who believe.”

    D&C 46 refers to “those who love me and keep all my commandments,” but only refers to a generic “him” in a subsequent clause.

    Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe…”

    D&C 84:65 also states “And these signs shall follow them that believe…”

  74. Bookslinger, yes the scriptures do say that, but it would be wonderful if women were encouraged more in this direction. We are taught to pretty much look to the priesthood healings and miracles.

  75. Bookslinger,
    Your invisible presiding harem is a bit weird. Sorry, man.

  76. Holy cow, Bookslinger — yeah, polygamist Heavenly Father creeps me out.

  77. I’m joining this discussion late, but I’d like to add a few things to #1 and #30 as ways to better allow women to exercise their gifts. I’m trying to present ideas that would fit within guidelines of Church governance as it now stands.

    First, in accordance with historical precedent, the hierarchical structure could be modified so that women hold autonomy over the RS and Primary auxiliaries. For example, the RS could be accountable to the Stake RS, then the General RS instead of being subject to approval from Bishops or Stake Presidents. Primary could work the same way. Changes in how auxiliaries (or indeed, Church leadership up to the highest levels) are organized are not unusual in modern times.

    Women have traditionally held the responsibility of writing and preparing their own lesson manuals. This is something that could properly be returned to the auspices of the General Relief Society.

    Certain callings such as Temple President/Matron, and Mission President and wife are held with both a male and female component. I see no heresy in expanding this to include Bishop, Stake Presidents, and even eventually Apostles.

    I think if women are to regularly heal, prophesy, and work mighty miracles, it must be something that is approved, recognized and appreciated in the highest echelon of the Church, rather than being done clandestinely, as it is now. Otherwise, the majority of women will hesitate to attempt them.

  78. polygamist Heavenly Father creeps me out

    Amen. I don’t buy Celestial polygamy for a moment.

    [Note: can someone with admin powers add the missing “not” after the word “should” in my comment 70 so it says “should not regularly heal…”? Thankfully Sally got my point in spite of my typo.]

  79. First, in accordance with historical precedent, the hierarchical structure could be modified so that women hold autonomy over the RS and Primary auxiliaries. For example, the RS could be accountable to the Stake RS, then the General RS instead of being subject to approval from Bishops or Stake Presidents. Primary could work the same way. Changes in how auxiliaries (or indeed, Church leadership up to the highest levels) are organized are not unusual in modern times.

    I heartily agree. I grew up always feeling completely equal to guys; it never occurred to me that some people would think otherwise. Then, when I found out that certain things always had to go through the Bishop or other priesthood leaders (when it was a women’s issue, for example), it really shocked me. I didn’t understand this and kind of still don’t.

    Also, can someone clarify for me what it means exactly to “share” the priesthood with your husband? I really never got that, either. Either you’ve got it (or some kind of it, even if it’s a non-office holding power of some sort), or you don’t. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve never understood this mystery. Any answers from a person in the know?

  80. Which is weirder, polygamist Heavenly Father and the heavenly harem or the totally absent, unavailable, HM we’ve got?

    I love the idea of raising women’s visibility at church and encouraging their spiritual gifts and prophetic voices, but what if we do all that only to be eternally silent in heaven?

    I guess what I’m asking is this: is our (relative) silence here worse than our Mother’s absolute silence there?

  81. Book 2 p325 has the answer
    Prayers in Church Meetings
    Men and women may offer prayers in Church meetings.

    And doesnt the girl in Legacy heal the oxen?? ;)

  82. Certain callings such as Temple President/Matron, and Mission President and wife are held with both a male and female component. I see no heresy in expanding this to include Bishop, Stake Presidents, and even eventually Apostles.

    BiV: I’m glad you said this. I was thinking about this because I think it’s already a reality in the best situations. It works the other way as well: my wife is RS compassionate service leader, and I am deeply involved in that work.

  83. Naismith says:

    There is no reason why women should regularly heal, prophesy, work mighty miracles, etc. All the things that matter most (even while we wait for various dumb policies to fade away).

    I resent that these would be considered “things that matter most.” Why do they “matter most”–simply because men traditionally do them?

    I think that part of the problem is not “allowing” women to perform traditionally male functions, but getting everyone to respect and value traditionally female contributions.

    A while back, I had the opportunity to travel to my daughter’s home, to help her through the birth of her first child. During her labor, I offered advice and support and prayed, and negotiated with hospital staff to help my daughter have as close to her ideal birth as was possible in the situation at hand. Then I spent two days cleaning her old apartment (they had moved into a larger place when baby was born, and due to an early delivery the move came after the birth instead of before).

    I blessed my daughter. What I did mattered at least as much (she might say more) as if her dad had been there to lay hands on and invoke the priesthood.

  84. who actually hold a position senior to Heavenly Father.

    What could possibly be the precedent for believing this bookslinger?

  85. Which is weirder, polygamist Heavenly Father and the heavenly harem or the totally absent, unavailable, HM we’ve got?

    Mary Ann, I think this is the best question anyone’s asked on the entire thread.

  86. I should note that in many, many areas, all of the high priests pretty much home teach with their wives as companions.

    “And rare is the SP who knows enough about the background to this silliness and has the backbone to stand up to a visiting GA.”

    Silly. Anyone can write the church audit committee and note that there is a new doctrine being taught, and cite it. That draws an immediate response and correction.

  87. “And rare is the SP who knows enough about the background to this silliness and has the backbone to stand up to a visiting GA.”

    Err, I should note that I’ve done it (written the audit committee, years ago, don’t know if it has the same name now or not) and it drew an immediate correction.

  88. Could those who say they don’t buy celestial polygamy explain what it means for a man to be sealed to multiple women if there is no celestial polygamy?

  89. Space Chick says:


    sorry, I didn’t mean to infer that the suggestions made in this post are ways of creating covert authority–I was responding more to Quinn’s statement. I think the ideas here are great, and actually would be very effective in levelling the playing field. I just thought it was odd that Quinn would have seen the fact that women don’t always have official roles as a good thing, for the reasons I outlined.

  90. Which is weirder, polygamist Heavenly Father and the heavenly harem or the totally absent, unavailable, HM we’ve got?

    Try this non-standard explanation on for size… not for everyone, but food for thought at least.

  91. Oh good lord Geoff, you nutbar! heh heh.

  92. Me: ” who actually hold a position senior to Heavenly Father.

    You: “What could possibly be the precedent for believing this bookslinger?”

    Most successful and happy marriages that I’ve observed, both in and out of the church, the husband defers to the wife in most all the major decisions that affect her, where to live, what house to buy, whether to take a new job, whether to move with a job transfer, how many children to have and when, how to raise the children etc. And there’s more than that of course.

    What I’ve noticed that really pisses off wives, both in and out of the church, is when husbands attempt to dictate things to their wives. My understanding is that dictatorial husbands and pissed-off wives are not what exalted families are made of.

    In the successful and happy marriages that I’ve observed, both in and out of the church, the spouses are co-equal, or else the wife is the senior companion. (I’ve always been single.) The advice that I’ve received from the male half of successful marriages, both in and out of the church, is mainly this: Keep your wife happy, and make every effort to go along with what she wants as much as you possibly can. Get her input before making any decision. Do not make decisions without her. Do not make decisions that she has not signed on to.

    Or as Dr. Phil says, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.”

    One big mistake that some feminists and most dictatorial husbands make is conflating “presiding” with “making the decisions”. To preside is not equivalent to making the decisions. To preside over a meeting or a council is to see that it is done in order, it is not to dictate the decision-making.


    We cannot conclude Heavenly Mothers are silent. They only appear to be silent to us. We have absolutely no idea what conversations they might have with Heavenly Father, the Savior, pre-mortal spirits, post-mortal spirits, or resurrected beings.

    We are taught to speak to Heavenly Father in prayer. We are taught to listen to the Holy Ghost, which speaks the words of Christ. We are taught that the words of Christ are always in accordance with the will of Heavenly Father. But that chain, as far as has been revealed, ends there. We have not been taught what is behind or beyond Heavenly Father. We all like to speculate. I do too. But perhaps speculating what is behind and beyond Heavenly Father is “looking beyond the mark.”

    However, the existance of at least one Heavenly Mother is all but stated plainly in scripture (Sections 76, 132) and in official correlated church material (Gospel Principles, the Proclamation, and the hymnbook).

    We are not the only church that believes in a Heavenly Mother. There are branches in the evangelical and pentecostal movements which also believe in a Heavenly Mother.

    And if there isn’t polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom, then all prophets from JS through Joseph F. Smith (and maybe Heber J. Grant?) must have been false prophets. It was either Heber J. Grant or the following president, George Albert Smith, who was the first non-polygamist president.

    Of course the church policy on polygamy changed. But the previously taught beliefs were never repudiated.

    And I believe that what J. Golden Kimball taught makes sense too. The CK is a place of perfect joy. The Lord is not going to force wives or husbands to stay in marriages (monogamist or polygamist) they don’t want to be in.

    Ronan, yeah, there are lots of weird things in Mormonism. Christianity as a whole is pretty weird to non-Christians. I was raised agnostic; the tenets and history of mainstream Christianity, especially the dark things of Catholicism, and the blandness of mainstream protestantism, was a big turn-off for me.

  93. Steve Evans says:

    Geoff, I take back my “nutbar” comment and apply it to No. 92 instead.

  94. Bookslinger, I appreciate your comments and I hope I understand the spirit in which they are intended. You are right, of course, that we really know very little about what is going on beyond the limited perspective we now have. But just as Mothers might be there behind the scenes counseling, directing, and guiding, they might not. Unfortunately, mights go both ways like that.

    As for happy marriages, I really hope that the perfect model is one of unity where both partners are equally engaged in familial decisions, where both have equal authority, leadership, inspiration, etc. The dominering wife/capitulating husband seems like a recipe for (eventual) disaster, much as I think the reverse must be.

  95. If in heaven Father is the constantly involved parent, the one you run to with every need or worry, the one who gives and takes away, then I suppose the role of a heavenly mother is what on earth would be men’s work- building, working, inventing, community/politics.

    She’s probably out making all the new worlds and He’s stuck at home with us kiddos :)

    honestly, my personal theology is like Elder Snow’s… “there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united”. I think we don’t realize HM’s presence now because were conditioned to attribute all God’s responses as being the male voice alone.

  96. Thomas Parkin says:


    I am unwilling to discuss this much publicly, because it is rather precious to me. I definitely think that on a very personal basis some of the ideas Geoff mentions ought to be reverently explored. You can count me squarely in the Elohim (plural) is Father and Mother united. That Father and Mother are the Priesthood Council that governs the human family. I don’t believe you can address the one without addressing the other. I think Geoff is right to point out the fact that no less a figure than President Kimball spoke in this way- that “man” in its full sense means man and woman united, ‘sealed’, become one flesh (figuratively).

    We don’t cast our pearls before the swine. It isn’t that Gods need protecting, that’s absurd, it is the ideas that are ‘rended’ and our deep love of them. Besides, when we understand so little, it is too easy to distort, to find ourselves very much far afield. We don’t neccesarily have good (any) language for it. I think we are bordering, if not in, an area where there are ‘things that are not lawful for man to utter’ and of speaking of things that ‘cannot be written’ and are only expressed in ‘groanings that cannot be uttered.’


  97. Ugly Mahana says:

    If Elohim (plural) is Mother and Father united, I wonder why we are commanded to pray to the Father, and why the scriptures consistently use male pronouns to refer to God. Could it be because in our language we do not have a word that adequately includes both?

    The neuter would not work because it suggests that God does not have gender- and even a God that includes male and female is not gender-less.

    In common (or traditional) english usage, reference to the male gender could include both male and female, but reference to the female gender referred to only females. By analogy, reference in prayer to the Father could properly be understood to be praying to God-complete, but praying to Mother would mean praying only to God-female. If our Parents are truly unified, then praying to only one would be blasphemous, or could even be a form of idolatry.

    Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we have come to use the plural hebrew word for God as His proper name, even while using singular conjugation to emphasize the unity of God’s (or Gods’) will, attributes, and actions.

  98. I think that priesthood is about lineage, setting the patriarchal order, and distribution of authority. I don’t think it pertains much to the gifts to the spirit, though recently (last 60 years or so from what I can gather) many in the church see them as the same. The reason we say “authority” instead of “power” in priesthood ordinances is because everyone who holds the priesthood has the authority, or right, to perform a priesthood ordinance. Not all priesthood holders have the power, or ability, to utilize the gifts of the spirit that often are manifested in the blessing portion of the ordinance. Authority and power are not synonymous.

    Some (I think most people) that live on this earth have some gift or gifts of the spirit, though few develop them. Even non-Mormon men (gasp!) and women (gasp, gasp!) can have gifts of the spirit. They just don’t have the authority to perform ordinances through the priesthood. The God I worship would answer the faithful prayer of a good, non-Mormon mother who takes her ill son in her arms and asks Him to help. A Catholic dad can listen to the promptings of the spirit to talk to his daughter about the consequences of some action she might be contemplating. The gift of tongues isn’t limited to priesthood holders. Even the gift of prophesy can be had by men and women; Jew, gentile, and Mormon.

    That said, exercising any gift must occur in its proper scope. It is inappropriate for a woman or man to use a gift of the spirit at the improper place or time, or for anyone they do not have stewardship over whether the priesthood is involved or not.

    Gifts of the spirit are most often independent of the priesthood, even if a gift can be used when performing a priesthood ordinance or calling. We don’t say that a person has the gift to be able to baptize, but we do say they have authority. We don’t say they have the gift to be bishop, but a bishop might have the gift of discernment to help him perform his calling. I believe only apostles have gifts of the spirit stated as part their priesthood office and/or calling.

  99. For all we know, Heavenly Father may be working off a set of “divine honey-do’s” . . .

    I LOVE IT!!!! Not sure I buy into the authority structure you’ve postulated, but I concur with Mary Ann’s #80.

    Wasn’t the ox-healing incident in Legacy based off an experience of Mary Fielding Smith where she not only blessed the sick ox, but anointed it with oil?

  100. Jim, that is a Mormon legend, which is quite surprising, considering it is an account of women healing. It was actual Joseph Fielding (Mary’s brother) and some other gents (including some folks that young Joseph didn’t particularly care for) that actually administered to the ox.

    There are, however, accounts of actual women healing and anointing the sick, by the thousands.

  101. Ah. Thanks.

  102. J. – I have heard the oxen healing story all my life – amazed to hear it is just legend. Where can I find a source for that? Thanks

  103. Mary Fielding Smith: Her Ox Goes Marching On by Lavina Fielding Anderson

  104. One of the most famous stories of a strong women performing a miracle and it turns out to be a legend. Bummer.

  105. That is ok, Sally. There are much more powerful true stories in abundance.

  106. Please share!

  107. I ws just perusing through my Widtsoe Studies and came accross this. I thought it was interesting and somewaht relevent.

    Joseph Smith ever taught such equality. Complaint came to him that women had administered to “the sick by the prayer of faith, the laying on of hands, or the anointing with oil.” His answer was, after discussing the matter:

    Who are better qualified to administer than our faithful and zealous sisters, whose hearts are full of faith, tenderness, sympathy and compassion. No one. [In his own words;] I … gave a lecture on the priesthood, showing how the sisters would come in possession of the privileges, blessings and gifts of the Priesthood, and that the signs should follow them, such as healing the sick, casting out devils, etc., and that they might attain unto these blessings by a virtuous life, and conversation, and diligence in keeping all the commandments.

    (John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith–Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951], 185.)

  108. Maybe I am crazy or wrong, but I have always assumed I must either have some sort of naturally occuring priesthood, or that I didn’t need it. When I was 12 I could go to the temple as was, but my brothers had to get the priesthood first. Why? Was there something wrong with the way they were? Same as endowments: I just went, but my brothers had to be ordained. Maybe they were missing something I already had.

    Years later, I sat in on some “priesthood lessons” someone in my branch decided to give my husband before he was ordained an elder. It really sounded like all of the responsibilities of the priesthood was stuff I already did. True, I did not lay my hands on people, but I blessed them all the same through other paths (or did my best, anyway).

    My great grandparents were very orthodox members–served as mission presidents and in temple presidencies, etc. Yet when their daughter was very ill and hospitalized they both came to bless her, my great-grandfather inviting his wife to place her hand on their daughter’s head with a simple “Kathleen?” and he voiced the blessing. It seemed pretty clear that my great-grandmother was accustomed to being a part of such blessings. They were not radical. This did not occur in the 1800s, but the late 1980s.

  109. a spectator — Thank you for sharing that story. It sounds like your great-grandfather respected and acknowledged the spiritual power of his wife. These instances of joint blessings are my favourites as they are a visceral image of the unity of faith and marriage.

  110. J Watkins says:

    Sacrament Meeting Prayer Issue:

    To put in my two cents worth regarding the Sacrament Opening Prayer issue I am surprised at how many are unfamiliar with the “written” letter policy.

    In the late 1990s (1998 I think) the First Presidency sent out a policy letter to be read from the pulpit by all the Bishops. The letter stated and directed the policy that Sacrament meetings are to be opened with prayer(invocation) by a worthy Priesthood holder to invite the spirit of the Lord and pronounce blessings upon the worship service attending the sacred ordinance of the Sacrament. The letter further stated that any worhty member of the church male or female may offer the closing prayer (benediction).

    Bishops should be keeping a binder in their office in which to keep these policy letters from the First Presidency for referral and for the next Bishop. Unfortunately it seems there are far too many units that don’t practice this very well.

    I remember this well because letters from the First Presidency on matters of policy to be read over the pulpit doesn’t happen very often .

  111. That may be the silliest policy this side of facial hair.

  112. Kevin Barney says:


    Yes, there was a letter that went out stating the policy. (I have never seen it, and if anyone has a copy we would love to post it here.) But there was also a rescission letter that came about six months later (again, I have never seen it). In at least some cases bishops and local leaders apparently got the first memo and not the second.

  113. Kevin, you mean that there was a second rescission in the ’90s? You’re not just referring to President Kimball’s instructions to regional representatives in 1978?

  114. Kevin,
    You should really look into this. Has anyone written anything on the Mormon phenomenon of the Mysterious FP Letter (they see it here, they see it there, they see it everywhere, they see it nowhere)?

  115. Kristine says:

    J Watkins, I’ve searched through two different bishops’ binders from the period you mention, and not found such a letter from the FP. The closest I’ve come to an iteration of this “policy” in writing is one bishop’s recollection of a letter from an Area Authority. Also, from my (anecdotal, not to say half-assed) research into the question, it appears that the policy was regionalized in its implementation–I suspect it was NOT a written directive from the FP, but oral directives (maybe with letters) from a few Area Authorities or perhaps one member of the 70 or Q12 who gave this instruction in areas he visited.

  116. Kevin Barney says:

    That the initial policy was regional would help to explain why the persistence of the “policy” seems to be localized as well.

  117. Kevin Barney says:

    BTW, Kristine, this subject is worthy of an article, and I think you would be a prime candidate to write it.

  118. AS a feminist, I’m glad that we’re taking a stand with any issue, but why has opening prayer been the line we’ve drawn in the sand? Why there instead of PEC axillary rights? Just curious why this is a sticking point when other (in my opinion) more important things are still left alone (for the moment). A starting point or a quagmire?

    Here are some of my ideas for women in the church.

    1) Increased study and emphasis on prophetesses in the scriptures (Deborah, Elizabeth, Anne, Abish (BOM), etc.) Also, teachings of these women and their gifts/roles need to stand independent of a long diatribe about the exceptionalness of women prophetesses. We’ve also got to stop the compulsive need to “balance” stories of these great women by referencing back to the Witch of Endor. We need to say “prophetess” without flinching and fearfully explaining the specific definition of a prophetess, lest someone walk out the door thinking that Sheri Dew will be the next Prophet after Gordon. (Think about it, how often do we refer to a male Prophet/prophet by needing to give a footnote to specifically define what that means as compared to a female prophetess?

    2) Include ALL THREE YW/Primay and RS presidents in ALL ward councils and PEC meetings as ward leaders! Stake meetings too!

    3)Mirror the VT program after the HT program. This would put a greater emphasis in the training of YW in ecclesiastical/spiritual duties and obligations, and thus place a higher emphasis on the role of women as competent spiritual comforters, teachers, charity angels, etc.

    4)Give Sister Missionaries District Leader, Zone Leader, AP positions. (Don’t ask “how”, work on making it happen, then iron out the logistics.)

    5)Women need to FOCUS MORE ON DOCTRINE and less on narrative and fictional content (When publishing books, speaking in sacrament, teaching, EVERYWHERE.) (T&S has posted on the infrequency of doctrinal commentary as compared to men by LDS publishers.) *Gasp* women, this means that you might need to know the scriptures as well as your RM hubbies. Is it possible??? Gasp* Didn’t Pres. Kimball tell women to think of themselves as scriptorians like the men do YEARS ago? Here’s my point. Why have men been closing up meetings for so long? Answer: B/C Women don’t give talks with conclusion content! For centuries, there have been various logical and successful forms of rhetoric. Think back to the greatest speeches ever made by ancient Greek, Renaissance, American & British politicians and lawyers, and even early LDS and contemporary LDS rhetoric masters. There are preset forms of rhetoric which we relish. The order is reassuring to us, we expect it, and it helps us comprehend the content. Talented speakers can manipulate these forms for variety and interest, but a lay ministry (ie LDS) tends to stick with basic forms. These overarching forms for speech and debate also apply to the overall frame of a worship service (which is basically one big talk, broken into pieces). Parables, narratives, personal examples, etc. usually “fit” into introductions and are woven into the content of a message. The conclusion, which wraps everything up by pulling together the doctrinal strings, usually comes at the end. Since men **usually** (or at least have in the past) spoken about doctrine, and women have a reputation for speaking with narratives, personal experience and even reading stories from the Ensign/Friend word-for-word, it just fits more naturally into the flow of a meeting to put that content first. So, if women want to punctuate the end of a meeting, they’ve got to tone down the narrative and examples and crank up the synthesis and doctrine. Also, women need to speak for 10-15 minutes OR GO OVER THE TIME LIMIT. They also need to speak instead of READ talks. Come ready with additional content INSTEAD of taking only 5 minutes and deferring to the male speaker for the rest of the time. It doesn’t bode well in precedent to bishops who know that if the last speaker doesn’t fill the time (i.e. Sister Suzy finishes reading her typed-up talk and says “amen”), he is going to have to get up there and wing it, and that won’t look very “organized”. Also, sisters have a tendency to speak very quietly and in a very reverent monotone way. Who needs that at the end of a LOOOONG LDS meeting? The ideal closing speaker wakes people up, uses voice inflections and volume. Besides Sheri Dew, and Cheiko, what other sisters grab you this way?

    (Yes, your ward might have done it the right way last week, but this is a general stereotype that isn’t without a grain of truth.)

  119. J.A.T.
    Come to my ward sometime.

  120. Stirling says:

    #111 remembers a letter providing detailed instructions regarding sacrament prayers as coming out around 1998.

    Note that 1998 was also when a revision to the Church Handbook was released. As partially quoted above, it has two sections relevant to sacrament meeting, gender, and prayers:

    “Sacrament Meeting…Members of the bishopric plan sacrament meetings and conduct them in a reverent and dignified manner…and invite members to give opening and closing prayers.“ GHI, 1998, p. 53.

    “Prayers in Church Meetings. Men and women may offer prayers in Church meetings. Prayers should be brief and simple and should be spoken as directed by the Spirit. Members should use the pronouns Thee, Thy, Thine, and Thou when addressing Heavenly Father. All members should say an audible amen at the end of the prayer. “GHI, 1998, p. 151.

    I don’t have the previous version of the handbook handy.

    Some investigative reporting could develop into a pretty interesting article. Given that the GHI didn’t have any instructions regarding gender, which GA(s) thought that was important, and why? And then when it was reversed….

    If someone posted the questions about these letters on the yahoo Mormon-Library list, I suspect someone there could answer them promptly.

  121. Kristine says:

    J.A.T.–I don’t think anyone’s drawing a line in the sand over women saying the opening prayer; it’s just a very interesting example of the kinds of informal, non-doctrinal sexism that lurk around the edges of Mormon culture. And it remains intriguing because no one can find a definitive answer about whether it is or is not policy. Everyone (not just Catholics) loves a mystery!

    And I’m with you on the talks, although I do think we should be vERY careful not to assume that traditionally masculine forms of discourse are inherently more valuable than traditionally feminine ones. I do think women should lose the overly deferential, simpering tone (especially to the extent that it is affected for the sake of seeming “spiritual”). But part of what made Chieko Okazaki’s sermons so powerful is that she knew how to deploy narrative so effectively. And nobody tells President Monson he can’t be the concluding speaker!

  122. Stirling says:

    “…it’s just a very interesting example of the kinds of informal, non-doctrinal sexism that lurk around the edges of Mormon culture.”

    Here’s an interesting case study:
    You attend a sacrament meeting in a very small Cuban branch. It is held in a member’s home in Havana.
    The male priesthood holders bless and pass the sacrament. But, intriguingly, our Cuban Saints have found a way to involve the women in the ceremony. The women break the bread.

    You are visiting from Utah, and as such you are recognized by the Saints in the room as an authority in church matters.

    Do you say anything about the gender-inclusive nature of the sacrament ceremony?

  123. Stirling says:

    “…it’s just a very interesting example of the kinds of informal, non-doctrinal sexism that lurk around the edges of Mormon culture.”

    8, 56, and 122 all alude to the “unwritten order.”

    Here’s an excerpt from Packer’s talk that celebrates the phenomenon:

    …”The things I am going to tell you are not explained in our handbooks or manuals either. Even if they were, most of you don’t have handbooks–not the Melchizedek Priesthood or Relief Society handbooks and the others–because they are given only to the leaders.
    I will be speaking about what I call the “unwritten order of things.” My lesson might be entitled “The Ordinary Things about the Church Which Every Member Should Know.” Although they are very ordinary things, they are, nevertheless, very important! We somehow assume that everybody knows all the ordinary things already. If you do know them, you must have learned them through observation and experience, for they are not written anywhere and they are not taught in classes. …
    While the things I will talk about are not written, they are really quite easily learned. Just be alert to the unwritten order of things and take an interest in them, and you will find that you will increase your ability and your value to the Lord.”

    Packer, Boyd K, “The Unwritten Order of Things.” Speeches. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1996 (Marriott Center Devotional).

  124. Kristine #122,
    You are right, we shouldn’t place a higher value on men’s perspectives and communication style. It would be sad to loose some of the uniquely female aspects of communication and spiritual perspective, b/c we became male clones in order to gain more power and prestige.

    M&M #120,
    Are you saying your ward is entirely pro-feminist and we’re out in left field? What would I see in your ward?

  125. Kristine,

    Excellent description! Is there a thesarus word for “talking-down-to-someone-with-slow-and deliberate-words-as-if-you-were-a-preschooler”? If so, pop that adjective in there someplace as well.

    “I do think women should lose the overly deferential, simpering tone (especially to the extent that it is affected for the sake of seeming “spiritual”).

  126. Kristine says:

    My aunt calls it “using your prayer voice all the time”.

  127. You would see women teaching doctrine — good, solid doctrine. You would see women sometimes ending the meetings, ending with good, solid doctrine. You would see women who speak boldly and clearly, even passionately.

    Your generalizations and “how women should give a talk” comment felt really patronizing to me and to women in general, J.A.T. I think our women are a lot stronger (and a lot stronger speakers) than you give them credit for, even IF they speak in a voice you don’t particularly care for. (You are missing WHAT they are saying anyway by focusing on HOW they say it. We get a LOT of good doctrine from our female leaders, and I hear a lot of good doctrine from the women around me in my ward and stake.)

    (Where are all the feminists when we women need them? Jumping on the let’s-lump-all-women-in-the-Church-together-as-weak-speakers bandwagon? ????)

  128. Kristine says:

    m&m–you’ll notice that I defended some elements of women’s talks. I think critiques of delivery are valid–style can make it much harder to focus on the substance of a talk. If it’s gender equality you want, I’ll say that I find many GAs stentorian tones equally distracting.

    btw, I recently had a dream that Kathleen Hughes spoke for 17 minutes in General Conference. I’m a little alarmed by what my subconscious is up to!!

  129. The instructions received with the new church handbook stated that all relevant First Presidency letters from the time the old handbook was published until now were incorporated into the new handbook. So if it doesn’t say “men only” for opening prayers…

  130. KyleM:
    That said, exercising any gift must occur in its proper scope.”


    “It is inappropriate for a woman or man to use a gift of the spirit at the improper place or time, …”


    “or for anyone they do not have stewardship over whether the priesthood is involved or not.”

    That’s true for most priesthood ordinances, but not all. The requirement to have stewardship over someone in order to “exercise a spiritual gift” really depends on the gift and on the circumstances, and how the gift is exercised.

    Since spiritual gifts should or can only be exercised at the behest or prompting of the Spirit, then whenever the Spirit prompts you, that is the appropriate time and place.

    Suppose you experience the gift of discernment. The gift of discernment is generally a temporary power of observation beyond normal. Whether you are supposed to verbalize what you “see” in any given situation is another decision tree to work through, or again decided by the Spirit.

    The gift of teaching can be exercised many ways in which authority or stewardship is not always needed. One could share a belief, an anecdote, a spiritual thought, a scripture passage, an opinion, in almost any situation. Lots of things can be communicated in casual conversation outside of lines of authority or chains of command.

    The gift of prophecy also covers a wide spectrum, such as to know things that are hidden, to know what’s going to shortly come to pass, to know what Heavenly Father’s will in a certain situation is. But like discernment, the authority or stewardship needed to verbalize what you have been told by the Spirit depends on both the situation, and how you phrase things.

    Sometimes the Lord reveals things to us for the sole purpose of our edification. Sometimes he reveals things to us so we get involved and act upon them.

    Like you said, ordinances and gifts don’t necessarily overlap, though they sometimes do.

    For instance, if you’re in another ward or stake and someone who is not under your stewardship asks you to give them a blessing, do you decline and tell them to call their home teachers? Depends. Visiting general authorities usually decline such requests unless they feel inspired to acquiesce, or unless they personally know the person. And if you’re just a visitor with no authority, and feel inspired to give your friend a blessing as they requested of you, must you first get clearance from their home-teachers, bishop or stake pres? Probably not.

    But say someone asked you to baptize them, then you’d have to have clearance from their bishop, since he holds the priesthood keys to direct the baptisms in his ward.

    But what about those spur of the moment things where the Spirit just says “do [something-or-other]” ? For instance, I was taught that priesthood holders should not solicit blessings (ie, ask people if you can bless them). So a few times when I felt inspired to ask someone if I could give them a blessing, I dismissed it as my imagination, and only later learned that the “don’t solicit blessings” was not a hard-and-fast rule.

    I think the over-arching rule is, if the Spirit tells you to do something, and you _know_ it’s the Spirit telling you, then do it, without questioning if you have the authority or stewardship to do it. The Spirit is only going to command us to do those things that are the Lord’s will, and that he really wants us to do.

    I think that is the gift of prophecy that the Apostle Paul told believers to covet, to hear the voice of the Spirit, perhaps even beyond the soft whispers, and know what it is that Heavenly Father wants us to know and/or say, and/or do.

    So often we are left to flounder and grope around in the darkness or twilight to figure things out for ourselves, and grow thereby. But those little gems, those tender mercies, those spiritual gifts, whether long-lasting ones, or temporary ones of a short-burts are exceedingly precious. Those gems are available to all “those who believe” as the scriptures say.

  131. I agree with you, Bookslinger. I think I just have a broader definition of stewardship as I believe all priesthood holders are stewards to all people for certain ordinances. I think that you’re spot on about listening to the spirit for guidance. Thanks for the thoughts.

  132. Bookslinger: “I’ve always been single”

    Me: “Oh now I understand…”

    I sincerely hope you are the last person to quote Dr. Phil for authority on any subject on this blog.

  133. MCQ: I’ve been an off-and-on Mormon, but I have at least 8 years of attendance in EQ meetings (or 10 years counting an overseas mission). Of those 8 years, 6 have been in Indiana, and 2 in Kentucky.

    In all those years, one of the over-arching messages that priesthood leaders, the old-style priesthood manuals, and EQ instructors have given is: Do whatever you can, everything possible, to keep your wife happy. Not by being a doormat to your wife, but to be a supportive husband, and always take your wife’s needs and wants into account, to always arrive at decisions _together_.

    Dr Phil’s “If mama ain’t happy, then ain’t no one happy.” is a pretty good summary of what I remember hearing in those 8 years of priesthood attendance.

    When I was active from 1982 to 1987, my one sentence summary of the priesthood manual and EQ lessons was this: EQ teaches men how to be righteous fathers and husbands.

    One of the things I’m learning from my current 40-something cohorts, is that a husband sometimes needs to actively seek out, and perhaps dig a bit, to find out his wife’s true inner wants. Some women will be too submissive and not let their inner needs be known until it is too late.

    I’ll grant you that Dr. Phil may be too much of the pop-psychologist and showman intent on ratings, money, and celebrity. But that famous line of his seems to match up with my experience in EQ.

    And speaking of what EQ teaches men, I’ve really been shocked to see so many accusations in the bloggernacle against men and the church, about misogyny and keeping women down. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’ve
    never encountered that in the EQs that I’ve been in.

    I can’t remember ever encountering active fully-participating priesthood holders here in the midwest who gave me the impression that they were dominating their wives under color of priesthood authority. And I can’t remember encountering female members here in the midwest who have claimed they’ve been treated unfairly under color of priesthood authority. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of divorces. But the idea that priesthood is used as a tool of misogyny, was never presented to me until I read about it in the bloggernacle.

  134. Do whatever you can, everything possible, to keep your wife happy

    Ok, that’s just stupid. I’m an EQ instructor right now, and I would never say this, primarily because my wife might overhear it and actually hold me to it. Are you seriously advocating this as a relationship strategy? All it will lead to is a wife who feels like her husband has no balls, and a husband who is frustrated by constantly hiding his opinion and feelings. There is no priesthood lesson that advocates this, to my knowledge, and thank God (and the correlation committee) for that.

    a husband sometimes needs to actively seek out, and perhaps dig a bit, to find out his wife’s true inner wants. Some women will be too submissive and not let their inner needs be known until it is too late.

    Never had this problem. In my experience it’s much more difficult to get a woman to keep her opinion to herself. Thank God for that too. I need my wife’s opinions, as do most men. My impression is that you could benefit from some female perspective on your theories.

  135. Female perspective: I tend to agree with Bookslinger. Not for all situations, of course, but I think he might be onto something for some situations. If it’s the nature and disposition of almost all men to dominate if they get some power/position, it would follow that actively making sure your wife is part of everything in your role as husband and father (that she feels like a partner) would be a good way to avoid such unrighteous dominion.

    Funny thing, though, any theory can go too far. Dr. Laura has the same theory, except for wives. Keep hubby happy, and everyone is happy. Obviously, either extreme is not really a partnership and I think fails in full gospel light.

  136. You attend a sacrament meeting in a very small Cuban branch. It is held in a member’s home in Havana….
    Do you say anything about the gender-inclusive nature of the sacrament ceremony?

    Yes, you say, “Hallelujah!”

  137. MCQ: What kind of marriage relationship do you propose? Do you prefer that the wife feel as though she has no opinion or that her husband doesn’t care at all about her needs?

    As a male and having been married for nearly 16 years now, I would tend to agree much more with Bookslinger’s description. I believe, without much effort, I could find quotes from a few recent prophets that say very similar things to what Bookslinger has described.

  138. theorem – “an idea, belief, method, or statement generally accepted as true or worthwhile without proof”

    I have taught my sons (now 18 and 16) the “Yes, Dearem Theorem” since they were old enough to comprehend the most basic concepts. I learned nearly 25 years ago to say, “Yes, Dear” in almost any situation that did not have a direct and immediate impact on my eternal salvation. Actually, I learned it nearly 40 years ago from my father.

    We work things out in private when we disagree on something, but in public (including in front of our children) I never contradict my wife. Most people think we have a perfect marriage, so it works for us. Thanks, Dad.

  139. m&m,
    I clearly said that I was speaking in generalities- it was the last sentence I wrote—right above my name. I’m speaking of a cultural THREAD, which is recognizable enough to almost everyone. I never said I was talking about the entire FABRIC.

    BTW, J.A.T. are my initials. Initials of radical, faithful-Mormon, Feminist and female.

  140. J.A.T.,
    I still think your comment was condescending and patronizing, even if you are female, faithful and a feminist. :)

  141. m&m, you’re about to be banned for smiley abuse. And JAT’s comment was no more patronizing than, say, any of yours.

  142. Jimmay:

    What kind of marriage relationship do you propose?

    Um…an equal one? Where neither party feels it necessary to kowtow to the other in order to keep him or her “happy” at all costs? Am I asking too much?

    Do you prefer that the wife feel as though she has no opinion or that her husband doesn’t care at all about her needs?


    As a male and having been married for nearly 16 years now, I would tend to agree much more with Bookslinger’s description.

    My condolences.

    I believe, without much effort, I could find quotes from a few recent prophets that say very similar things to what Bookslinger has described.

    I double dog dare you.

  143. Steve, can you really be banned for smiley abuse?
    ’cause I think m&m is right, smiley or no, at least here:

    either extreme is not really a partnership and I think fails in full gospel light.

    that’s what I was trying to say.

  144. Um…an equal one? Where neither party feels it necessary to kowtow to the other in order to keep him or her “happy” at all costs? Am I asking too much?

    Just to offer a different perspective, i’d define an equal one as “Where both parties feels it necessary to kowtow to the other in order to keep him or her “happy” at all costs”

  145. Amen, Matt. That’s what I have taught my children, and I see it in almost all of the happiest couples I know. (I have a wonderful wife who also believes in the Yes Dearem Theorem, so we get along quite well after 25 years.)

  146. Thanks for making my point of view feel so welcome, Steve. :) :) :) Smiley faces were a way to try not to be come across as patronizing or unkind. I wasn’t trying to talk down to JAT, just was disagreeing. I thought that was allowed. :) :) :) ?????

  147. Steve Evans says:

    “Smiley faces were a way to try not to be come across as patronizing or unkind.”

    Unfortunately m&m, as you might suspect, smiley faces do little to compensate for patronizing language. Allow me to demonstrate: you would do better to simply not pontificate at every issue and strain at gnats. :)

  148. Steve Evans says:

    As concerning your point of view, it’s certainly welcome, whether I (or any other BCCer) agree with you or not. In fact I agree with some of what you have to say, for example what MCQ pointed out in #144.

  149. m&m . . .yeah, well Steve has these icon mood swings from day to day. One day its @, and another is ;-)

    You just have to check the magic 8 ball to find which is which and when is when

  150. That was fun. I typed in: will Mormon women ever hold the priesthood? and the magic 8 ball told me: outlook not so good.

    I wonder if the magic 8 ball could be the ultimate epistemological trump card?

  151. My sources say yes!

  152. Steve Evans says:

    BiV, ask again later.

  153. you would do better to simply not pontificate at every issue and strain at gnats

    I’ll do even better; I’ll just stop commenting here altogether. :)

  154. Steve Evans says:

    see ya! :)

  155. Kristine says:


    Lay off.

  156. Kristine says:


  157. Matt:

    I happily accept that correction.

  158. Steve Evans says:

    m&m, I hope you weren’t serious — I don’t want you to stop commenting here. DAMN THESE DECEPTIVE SMILEYS!!

  159. Ronan
    I am glad you have opened up this subject. I often peruse the internet for new info related to LDS women holding the priesthood. I had posted a comment regarding an experience I had in the temple on another site around a year ago. I had hoped it would generate discussion, but it appeared to me that there was no interest. Perhaps, I personally, am of too little consequence to be listened to. I will tell my story again.
    Around 5 years ago while attending the temple endowment I was thinking about women and wondering if God truly views his daughters as being as important as his sons. As I pondered this question a profound thought was impressed upon me that women hold the priesthood through the endowment. My mind was opened up and I perceived that endowed women hold the exact priesthood that men do and to the same degree as men. I saw that we stand shoulder to shoulder and head to head with men and we are held equally responsible before God as priesthood holders. At that moment a sense a duty filled me and I wanted to step up and uphold my responsibility as a prieshood holder. I wanted to fulfill God’s commands more than I had ever wanted to before in my life. The knowledge that I held the priesthood motivated me to be the kind of woman God would want me to be.

    Upon returning home I immediately started a search to see what was out there regarding women and the priesthood. I found that the prophet Joseph Smith taught that women hold the priesthood through the endowment. I had never heard this before. I had never considered that women should hold the priesthood, therefore I did not conjure this experience up as a result of wishful thinking.

    Within a couple of months of receiving this revelation I was once again in a temple endowment when the same information was impressed upon me spiritually. I was asked this question in my mind, “Why would God withhold the priesthood from his righteous daughters?” The answer was impressed upon me, and I could see clearly, that he does not withold the priesthood from his daughers who are righteous. They are entitled to all the same blessings as his righteous sons.

    As the years have passed this knowledge has become so natural and sensible to me. It’s as though I have always known it. The biggest problem I have with it is going to church and hearing EVERYONE preach incorrect doctrine on this point. It disturbs me very much that we LDS people carry on about having the truth, but yet we preach untruth regarding women and the priesthood. It leaves me wondering if we are preaching untruth regarding other doctrines as well, and if we might possibly be under comdemnation from God for negating truth that he revealed to his early prophets in this dispensation.

    I have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel. I also believe we are responsible to live and preach it according to the truth. This is the reason for my telling the story again. I am absolutely positive of the correctness of my experience. I hope others will consider my experience with an open mind and see the truth of the matter – women do hold the priesthood through the endowment and it is equal to that held by the men.


  160. Fran,

    I don’t want to get into a full discussion of the gazillion discussions that your post could spawn, but I also had an insight recently that I will share with you.

    Through the ordinances of the temple, all women who maintain their temple worthiness literally carry with them the protection of the Priesthood and the blessings of the Priesthood covenants. They are clothed in the Priesthood in exactly the same way as the men, and they officiate in the temple ordinances in equality with men. The only differences are the actual representation of the Lord Himself and the responsibility given to men to exercise the Priesthood outside of the temple.

    I can’t tell you why this is – why there is the distinction between the temple and the world outside. I can’t tell you if that distinction one day will be erased or if it will remain until the end of time. All I know is that, in the highest order of existence of which we are aware, men and women stand as equal in their Priesthood duties and in the eyes of God.

    I don’t think we preach false doctrine in the Church concerning the Priesthood. What we teach in Church meetings – outside the temple – is reflective of what I believe to be the lesser adaptation of the world outside the temple. As with other things, we teach things inside the temple we do not teach in our regular Church buildings where we meet with those who have not attended the temple – without either of them being wrong or false.

    I don’t know if that helps, but it is my perspective.

  161. Ray,

    Thanks for your response. I actually posted last week and forgot about it as I really didn’t expect anyone to pay any attention to it. I am going to respond to some of your points and I do not intend to sound critical of your thoughts. I am simply bouncing mine off of you. I appreciate your seeing that women are clothed in the Priesthood the same way men are, and also acknowledging that they do receive the fullness of the Priesthood with men in the highest order of things. However, I am not conviced that women cannot do more with their Priesthood outside of the temple. I do not need “positions” in the church, but I do need to know how I can better act on my responsiblities as a priesthood holder. The spirit impressed upon me the tremendous responsibility that women have as Prieshood holders. I perceived that we have not been left “off” the hook as so many women believe. I often hear women say that they don’t have to worry about being responsible for this, or that, because they are not the priesthood holder. They relegate all responsibility for wrong decision making onto the shoulders of the men thinking that God will not hold them accountable for much as they do not hold the Priesthood. I think this is incorrect thinking, and as long as we do not acknowledge, outside of church, that women hold the Priesthood through the endowment women will remain in this error, thus receiving condemnation for not acting upon their Priesthood as they should have. We can dupe ourselves into beleiving that God does not want us to discuss this outside of church, but we need to if women are going to stand up to the plate and be the women of God that Christ would want them to be. I am anxious to learn what I can do as a Priesthood holder, now, to fulfill my responsiblities more fully (I beleive there is more to excercising my Priesthood than mothering). If we don’t talk about it, how will I be instructed? Furthermore, if I act upon any instructions I receive from the spirit on this point I could very well get into trouble at church.
    Regarding your statement that we do not preach false doctrine on this point. I think we do. The men are constantly referred to as the Priesthood leaving the endowed women out of the equation. Just today in church I attended a class of all women and only one man. At the meeting’s close the man was called upon to pray as he was the “Priesthood holder”, but in fact everyone in the room was a Priesthood holder. In Sacrament meeting today the topic was the Prieshood. Once again we were told that women “enjoy” the blessings of the Priesthood through their husbands. No mention was made of women’s responsibilities as Prieshood holders, not even as mothers. I don’t beleive this is because everyone thinks it is too sacred to talk about outside of church. I think they just don’t believe that endowed women hold the Prieshood.

  162. Sorry Fran, while I agree that women hold the priesthood in a sense and can administer in certain ordinances in the temple (and some outside of it, although this is not clear), I think you’re on the wrong track here.

    The spirit is not going to reveal this kind of thing to an individual in the church. There are many people with calling and authority to receive revelation concerning changes that need to be made in our priesthood practices. You are not one of them. I suggest reconfirmation before you proceed further.

  163. Thank you for your comments Ray and Fran. I am drained. I am dry. I don’t know how else to describe how I feel on this issue. We get missives ten years ago on why men should open sacrament meetings with prayer instead of women. I cannot believe the Church is even bothering with such petty little issues of control. What a ridiculous squabble that is clearly a century old that we are discussing in the 21st century. This church will never be able to market itself with its puny 5.5 million members to the 270 million others in the U.S. with such archaic ideas. Go watch the original Stepford Wives! It is alive and well in the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints. The gender gap is growing disproportionately. You lost me. You will lose thousands more!

  164. This church will never be able to market itself with its puny 5.5 million members to the 270 million others in the U.S. with such archaic ideas. Go watch the original Stepford Wives! It is alive and well in the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints. The gender gap is growing disproportionately. You lost me. You will lose thousands more!

    That movie is alive and well? And living…where again? No really, I’m curious because, from what I remember of that movie, the women were very compliant and meek and did everything their husbands said. If you could direct me to where those women are, I’d like to hang out there for a while, because the women I know in the church are pretty dang mouthy and it’s really hard to tolerate sometimes.

    Seriously though, pat, lame prophecies like that have been made before, but you really don’t have the flair for them. You should have ended with a satanic laugh and some insane organ music.

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