I ordained my son a deacon a couple of weeks ago. The first thing he did when we got home was to facetiously wave his hands toward a chair and attempt to move it with the power of his mind and/or Priesthood. I immediately told him, “The Priesthood is not a superpower.” It is something that, I suppose, bears repeating.
Consider, if you will, the scriptures. Are you looking for some power that will let you move mountains, command trees, walk on water, or heal the sick? Well, the priesthood isn’t what you need. Faith is. In scripture, all those attributes are tied to faith, not Priesthood. It makes me wonder why we insist on tying everything extraordinary to the Priesthood today.
Obviously, part of it has to do with the ordinance of anointing and blessing to heal the sick, which is an ordinance of the priesthood. But that’s the thing. That is one ordinance for one thing; the gifts of God are multitude. Even setting aside that women used to anoint and bless the sick in our church, we have folklore and actual scripture to support the notion of the gifts of God being manifest in women. We should not have any notion that the gifts of God or the authority to invoke those gifts are limited by either sex or Priesthood.
So, when I hear that women are forbidden from saying the opening prayer in sacrament meeting or from praying with the people they visit teach, it saddens me. Not just because it offends whatever feminist sensibilities that I may have, but because we are actively cutting ourselves off from many of God’s gifts. I do not believe that Zion will come or that we will be God’s people until we allow all members of our communities the full use of their talents and gifts. I don’t know if that means ordination of women or not (it ain’t up to me), but surely all of these silly obstacles that we place before ourselves don’t help.
Now, some will argue that the priesthood needs or has a role in church and human life and these prohibitions maintain that role. But the Priesthood has a role and these prohibitions are irrelevant to it. The Priesthood exists on earth in order to align God and Humankind, primarily by means of authorized ordinances. Those necessary ordinances (baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances) must be as binding in heaven as they are on earth. The Priesthood, which gives a lineage of authorization going back to Jesus Christ, provides the necessary bureaucratic force. However, I am not certain that it necessarily does anything else.
Sure the Prophets and Apostles receive revelation over the entire church, but the church is their stewardship. The Nursery Leader has a stewardship as well and we believe that she receives revelation over her stewards as well. As does the bishop, as does the Relief Society President. We are all equally accountable for our callings and we are all equally blessed with revelation when it is sought righteously.
The Priesthood is not magic; it is not the Force. It is the authority to do God’s will on earth, with the caveat that God’s will is for us to be baptized and partake of all necessary ordinances to return to him. It is, as presently realized, the opportunity to be God’s bookkeeper. There are worse things.