Many Are Chosen, But Few Are Called

In a well publicized pre-emptive move, the church issued a statement last week that women seeking tickets to the April 5 Priesthood session would be relegated to the “free speech zone,” traditionally the purview of anti-Mormon protesters.  Kate Kelly, founder of the group Ordain Women, was characteristically gracious in her reply.  From the article:

“We are disappointed that we weren’t granted tickets,” says Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women. “But it is a positive step that public affairs is responding to us, indicating that one day maybe the higher authorities will be able to hear our concerns.”

As a faithful life-long member and a returned missionary, she hastened to point out how jarring it was to be grouped with the church’s opponents.  The Ordain Women movement seeks ordination as a signal of their faithfulness and commitment.

“We have nothing in common with those people,” says Kelly, who served an 18-month mission for the faith. “They are seeking to destroy the church. We are not against the church — we ARE the church.”

The Tribune article provides PR spokeswoman Jessica Moody’s response:

A “large majority” of Mormon women do not share Ordain Women’s “advocacy for priesthood ordination for women,” church spokeswoman Jessica Moody wrote Monday to the group’s organizers, and such activism “detracts from the helpful discussions” that the LDS Church is having with others on women’s issues.

Sister Moody is doubtless referring to research done by David Campbell and Robert Putnam for the book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (published in 2010).  They found that all sects surveyed favored female ordination except for Mormonism.  Among Mormons, though, they found a large gender divide:  only 10% of women favored female ordination, but 48% of men supported it.  It made me wonder what’s driving that gap, but it also made me wonder how many men actually feel called to the Priesthood, called to minister and care for the flock.  After all, nobody asked them; the majority were simply ordained at age 12 and have been in the Priesthood ever since.  Perhaps the percentages would be around the same as how many women feel “called” to the priesthood.  After all, in other faiths that do not have a lay clergy, not everyone becomes a priest or pastor, only those who feel “called” to it.

Perhaps an apt comparison is female missionary service.  When it is not compulsory, strongly encouraged or convenient to serve a mission, what percentage of members serve one?  What percentage feel “called” to it?  Based on the female to male ratio in my mission in the late 1980s, roughly 10% of women heard and answered that call.  We weren’t all mustachio’d spinsters.  In my and many other sisters’ cases, we felt called to the work despite it being an inconvenience.  The idea of serving filled us with enthusiasm.  We knew deeply in our bones that we had a work to do, that a mission was where we belonged; we were committed.  We weren’t there due to social pressure, to get a car, to become more marriageable upon return, or to avoid disappointing our parents.  I left behind a serious relationship to serve as did many of my companions; a mission is not a consolation prize for the lovelorn.

It’s one reason why, although I don’t particularly feel called to the Priesthood in general, I certainly understand those faithful women who say they do and see how it is evidence of their commitment.  I know that feeling very well.  I also know what it’s like to have people question why you feel called, assuming that this was your Plan B, not something you actually felt compelled to do. Perhaps those who question the motives of those who would volunteer for service simply don’t feel called themselves.  And perhaps that is true for some critics of the Ordain Women movement; not having felt their own “calling,” they don’t as easily recognize it in others.

I was having lunch a few months ago with my previous boss, who is not LDS.  She and I both left our high ranking executive positions last summer. She was explaining to me that she was going to enter the seminary to get her divinity degree.  Although we had both been leaders of thousands of employees for decades, in our different ways, we had also always felt a spiritual calling, something we had often discussed despite our differences in religion.  For me, it has been to advise others who struggle, to help people find room in their hearts for spiritual endeavors in addition to taking personal responsibility for their growth when facing doubts, to be a sounding board to those who need one.

When she told me about her plans, I initially assumed she wanted to lead a congregation because leadership comes so naturally to her, and women do lead congregations in her church.  She demurred, stating that while she feels called, it’s to write books, to tour and give sermons in India and China, not to serve in a pastoral position; she felt that for whatever reason, female pastors just didn’t “work” as well as male pastors, or at any rate, she didn’t feel it was her calling.  While I’m not sure I agree with her about female pastors, I tend to think one’s calling in life differs from person to person. [1]  I’ve seen enough male bishops who were not great at pastoral care to know that while many may be chosen to fill that role, not all are called.  And yet, in Mormonism, we don’t generally use the term “calling” to mean something voluntary, an effort driven by an internal compulsion.  To us, a calling is a duty, an obligation to serve in whatever capacity we are asked, to the best of our ability.

I have long had a vision (or maybe a fantasy) of myself as a mission president, assisting the elders and sisters in their work the way my own president did for us when I served.  Realistically, I see that role is difficult, inconvenient, often unpleasant, putting one’s life on hold, dealing with the gamut of human experience closely day in and out, yet it also plays to my strengths:  motivating people, organizational dynamics, making tough decisions, listening and advising.  Only in my twilight waking moments when I forget that I’m barred from such service by virtue of my sex does that dream feel possible and real.  I have never felt a similar “calling” to be in charge of the YW, the Primary, or even the Relief Society (nor to any of the other male offices such as bishop or Stake President).  Missionary work is the thing that charges my soul.

This is similar to what a calling is to other faiths:  an internal awareness of one’s desire to serve in a specific capacity that matches internal talents and passions with the needs of the church or the world at large.  For many Mormon women, that’s the type of calling we have been mostly taught to ignore and swallow since our youth when we first realized we would not be permitted to fulfill those feelings.  Given our “duty” approach to calling, there are doubtless many men who have also learned to suborn such feelings to duty.

What is the result of our current gender-restricted Priesthood?  One result is that we must dig deep into the male-only talent pool while ignoring completely the female talent pool.  When we dig that deeply, we are not always putting our best people at the helm, particularly at local levels where there are many rotating leadership roles to fill.  Some leaders get burned out from their efforts to balance their personal and church commitments and others are simply not suited to pastoral care, lacking the requisite interpersonal skills.  I recall one example in my mission when I had an investigator who was ready to be baptized.  My companion and I didn’t have the authority to perform the ordinance, so I asked one of the elders if he would do it.  His reply was somewhat shocking; he didn’t “feel like getting wet” that day.  Why then was he on a mission?  Because his stepfather said he would buy him a car if he went. [2]  Making Priesthood compulsory means we get 100% of the men, whether they are suited or not, whether they want to be there or not.  If leadership is chosen from the top (excluding at minimum – along with all females and children – those who are unworthy, unwilling, inactive, unstable, or unknown), restricting to adult males only means that we are only considering at best ~30% of our members in filling those roles [3].  To fill all the leadership roles to run a ward and a stake while only considering 30% means we will dig fairly deeply into that spiritual talent pool.

Is it any wonder that nearly half of men in the church would like to share the burden of Priesthood with the sisters?  Some male critics of Ordain Women reveal their resentment toward their own gender-restricted duties, in the same way anti-feminists do when they they complain that women shouldn’t have equal rights until they are equally eligible for the draft; these folks would imply that women are weak from their light duty and that men are in fact more oppressed by the church’s requirements of them because more is expected of them.  While it’s true that sexism hurts everyone, their ire is misplaced when they attack women who are eager to increase their capacity to serve through ordination.  Most men in the church also see the results of digging deep to find leaders among the men; while we are all grateful to those who take up the mantle of leadership even if they fall short (and everyone does), we recognize that some are better suited than others, and a handful are ill-suited indeed.

Increasingly, Mormon men see that there are many intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, strategic, creative, caring, organized, wise, spiritual leaders who happen to have been born female.  This will only increase as more women serve missions, picking up the workload side by side with their brothers in the gospel.  While I don’t personally feel called to the Priesthood [4] (at least not to the version we have now), it’s impossible to listen to amazing women like Kate Kelly and Neylan McBaine and not acknowledge that we have some incredible female talent and spirituality that is systemically underutilized in our current structure.


[1] A vocational aptitude test I took in high school recommended I become a rabbi.  Instead I became a corporate executive with a heart of gold.

[2] About a year later, this elder did have a fairly amazing conversion experience.  Obviously, a mission did him some good, which is one of the main points to a mission: improving the lives of the missionaries themselves.  I’m glad there was a happy ending.

[3] Assuming women, children and teens constitute ~70% of the total membership.  This estimate would obviously vary from ward to ward, but I can’t think of a ward in which adult men outnumber adult women and children.

[4] Aside from my mission president fantasy.


  1. Extremely interesting, Angela. I need to mull this over a little but it’s clear that a sense of divine calling is crucial to the work.

  2. It’s Christ’s church, he’ll make the change when he wants, etc etc.

    Just thought I’d throw that argument out there early so we can get it out of the way and move on.

    Now, speaking personally I have no particular desire to ever be in a priesthood leadership position of any significance, but I think my wife might make one heck a bishop. It’s a shame that I’m considered a potentially valid candidate by virtue of chromosomal happenstance when I live with someone who’d probably do a much better job given the opportunity but, as things stand, will never be asked!

  3. Melinda L. Brown says:

    I have no desire to hold the priesthood. I’ve been active in the Church for 17 years and have NEVER met even one sister in the church who says she wants the Priesthood. Where are these 10% of women who say they seek Priesthood Ordination?

  4. Brava! I fail to see how feeling called to serve others and serve God is so very threatening to so many (and it _definitely_ is). I just go on my merry way ignoring the haters because they obviously have their own issues with it to work out. I am knocking at a door that I was told to knock at and no Earthly human being will sway me from that course.

  5. Melinda, perhaps your certainty that these women do not exist, coupled with your own comfort with the certainty of your position, makes you an unlikely confident for women who might feel differently. If you’re genuinely interested in women who think or feel differently than you do, there are many places to look, and reading a few profiles on Ordain Women would be a good place to begin. You might be surprised at the faithfulness of the profiles.

  6. Don’t worry too much about this … J.S. made it all up anyway. The ordain women movement should concentrate at forming a new church group. Maybe it can be called the Church of Reason? Church of Rationality? Church of Anti- Emotional Feelings?

  7. Tracy M. I carefully read what you wrote. I’m not sure of what you’re saying. But let me clarify to what I did understand from your comments. I have not stated “these women do not exist.” I stated (very simply) I have never met one. Something you don’t have to speculate about me Tracy M., I mean what I say and say what I mean; I don’t imply. No need to speculate on what you think I may or may not believe or know. Feel free to be direct and ask with openness. Thank you for this exchange.

  8. Melinda: I was planning on commenting before I read the further exchange with Tracy–so please don’t take this as anything more than a response. I am one of those women, but I am fairly certain almost no one knows it. My mother and my daughter know. Maybe one or two other people. Why? Because, we fall into a wide spectrum (which is why I love this post!). I feel like there is an eternal plan for a female order of the priesthood, that I would like to see fulfilled. I won’t go into the details of what I think because this is just a comment and others have stated things similar before in other forums. That is my second point: I think the number is actually much higher than 10%–we don’t all make our voices heard, yet. Some of us are still meditating and praying on what we believe and hope. Some of us haven’t even considered it as a possibility yet. But, I think there are more than 10% that would like some version of an expanded role of service–some are silent. No judgment about that, since I am basically one of them.

    Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

  9. Kate: I respect your right to choose what path you take in Earth School aka Life. I have never met you and yet feel your sincerity. I’m hoping you will understand that I stated I have never met a sister who felt this and it’s a true statement–I haven’t that I was aware of. Perhaps, as with you, she held her peace for whatever reason. I’m a woman’s advocate with all my being. I worked at our local women’s prison for three years, not as a missionary, but a volunteer teacher. I know women need to stand up and be heard. But if this is right for women to have the Priesthood it will happen in the Lord’s time and according to his plan.

  10. Sometimes what is required for the Lord’s plans to be fulfilled is for faithful disciples to ask questions.

  11. melodynew says:

    This is a wonderful post, Angela C. I think you’d make a remarkable mission president. The “internal calling” rather than an externally assigned “call” is one of the things I don’t particularly love about our church. No doubt, many callings are inspired. But certainly not all. And in the case of 12-year-old males, apparently inspiration doesn’t matter at all. Having said that, (even within the church) those who respond to an internal, God-given call, are often easy to spot. They seem to have a passion and joy about the work they do. Men and women alike. And I do believe God qualifies us for any work for which we are willing to be qualified.

    I have to admit, for many years I’ve felt a sort of internal awareness of and preparation for what I can only classify “priesthood.” What to make of it? I don’t know. It does make me wonder though. . . It’s confusing when something so clearly good (like you as a mission president or me as a priest) is so far removed from the realm of possibility. And although I am not a part of OW, I support those who are. Thank you for another thoughtful and well-written post.

  12. melodynew says:

    Kate: Amen.

  13. I suppose that I have always assumed since going through the temple that female priesthood was a thing, whether the same as male priesthood or different, whether futuristic or during this life. Motherhood is obviously not it. I am listening closely to what the Church says in this discussion because of what the temple has said to me. I think it is destined to be difficult for an all male leadership group to understand what the temple says to women.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    Great post, Angela. (And I can definitely see you as a MP.)

    I’ve long been on record as favoring the ordination of women, mainly for reasons I articulate here:

    But even if that were not my perspective, I would still be part of that 40-something percent of men that would be fine with female ordination, largely for reasons articulated in this post. In a lay church the burdens of leadership are many and insistent, and I often feel somewhat abused by such a system. I often feel dumped on with responsibilities and assignments. To me it should be a no-brainer to spread the work around as widely as possible, for as we all learned as children, many hands make light work. And there is nothing about the work of the priesthood that is inherently male or could not be just as well performed by females.

  15. “nearly half of men in the church would like to share the burden of Priesthood with the sisters”

    I think this is inaccurate. The results of the Pew study of male LDS members’ opinions on the issue put the percentage at about 13%, a far cry from “nearly half”. ( Even employing the full impact the margin of error potentially lends, the proportion of men is fewer than one in five.

    Additionally, I think Sister Kelly could benefit from studying argumentation and concepts relating to persuasion. She might learn it would be more effective to ask for change in increments, rather than asking for 180 degree shifts. Her current tactics are not likely to result in much beyond making many feel she is off-putting and radical. Maybe this is why the Church asked the movement to stay within the free speech zone?

  16. Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing it!

  17. Glenstorm says:

    This distinction between the Protestant/Catholic definition of “calling” and it Mormon variant is something I bring up all the time in discussion of the Mormon priesthood. The priesthood in Mormonism is barely, if at all, connected with any meaningful discourse of voluntarism and all-but-baseline deserts: if a man chooses to be Mormon (or receives a testimony, maybe “is called” to be Mormon), the priesthood is required for any degree of involvement beyond church attendance. To be an active Mormon man and not have the priesthood is seen as willful flouting of one’s sacred duty, not the delay of someone waiting for a call or to be worthy. And this is something that has been pretty constant throughout LDS history: the “call” is to join the Church, but after that, specific callings to serve must either be assigned by leaders. There is the phenomenon of people taking individual initiative to create new ways to serve (welfare program, Primary, YW/YM, and -of course- Relief Society), but these are quickly subsumed under the aegis of the Church (especially in wake of Correlation). In fact, initiative to take on a certain office in church is often -if not exclusively- treated as an undue intrusion of ambition, and people are counseled to be worthy of callings but not to desire them.

    I know that from my personal experience, I have seldom felt a meaningful connection with my holding the priesthood or priesthood-contingent callings; the most meaningful priesthood experiences for me have been performing or receiving blessings. (Unless you want to count participation in the endowment, which is impossible for men without the priesthood.) To be frank, I’ve felt that were I not Mormon, I’d go into pastoral care as a profession – a “calling” that cannot be fulfilled in the LDS Church.

    It’s also interesting to note that /conservative/ Mormons often resort to voluntarist concepts of priesthood in order to argue against female ordination: what would you do with all the Mormon women who are content as they are and don’t want the priesthood? Do you forcibly ordain them? Unless we are to adopt a universal (or gender-specific, as with missions) voluntarist concept of the priesthood, I think such a result would logically follow.

    My questions, then, are these: how much is the equation of calling and duty a unique and/or inherent part of Mormonism, and what would we lose by adopting a voluntarist approach? Is involuntary, or chosen-but-not-called, service an integral element of the Law of Consecration or a Zionistic society?

    Is a lay voluntarist ministry sustainable at all? How many organizational positions would be able to be filled if we adopted that approach? How many men -as the OP noted- feel a calling to serve as priests? Does it make sense to talk about having a calling to the priesthood when assigned priesthood callings can be so incredibly variable? What are the gender dynamics in conservative American churches with voluntarist ministries (or a pastor with other positions in the congregation being voluntarist)?

  18. I suspect Sister Kelly is well versed in the “studying argumentation and concepts relating to persuasion”. She’s a well regarded lawyer in Washington DC. She has consistently presented herself as not only thoughtful and well-reasoned, but also tremendously faithful. I’m not a member of OW, but I’m very weary of the personal attacks on a woman who is our sister.

    Angela, this is a great post and has much in it that’s worth thoughtful consideration.

  19. And where else should be than the place designated for the people who want to protest that the leadership/Church is wrong in some way or the other?

    @Casey, “It’s a shame that I’m considered a potentially valid candidate by virtue of chromosomal happenstance”
    Happenstance? What is your basis for disagreeing with “The Family: a Proclamation”‘s statement that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”?

  20. Where does the idea that women are prospective priesthood holders originate? In our temples and in our own theology. Asking for it is a signal of faith not of protest, at least from those who are faithful and earnest in their desire. Sister Kelly would never have called this a protest nor a demonstration. It is her intention to strengthen the Church not weaken it or attack it. This is a vital discussion for the Church to be having. Vital if we intend to grow and thrive and bring women and men to Christ. Is the end result going to be female ordination? Not necessarily. But taking this discussion seriously is essential.

  21. BTW, pastoral care in the context of hospitals and prisons is available to women of all faiths.

    Just noting the same.

  22. The idea that women have to ask for what they want in a certain way in order for people to give them what they want is ludicrous. Sarah Moon put it wonderfully last summer.

  23. @manaen because I disagree with parts of it? I figured that would’ve been clear.

  24. @manaen because I see the FamProc as a position paper and not really a revelation.

  25. Doh double comment. Mods feel free to delete the first one (and this).

  26. Jason K. says:

    This is a really great post, Angela. Thanks for writing in a thoughtful way that will advance the broader conversation about service in he gospel community.

  27. Very thought-provoking article, Ang.

    I don’t agree with some of the ways that the issue of female ordination is being approached by OW, but that approach doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the quick rush to judgment I see among too many of those who oppose female ordination. The name calling and dismissiveness (and, too often, actual scorn and vitriol) hurts my heart far more than the idea that women want to be ordained officially to the administrative Priesthood.

    As a good friend once said, sometimes, in relation to lots of things, the best question is:

    “Lord, is it I?”

  28. After serving in Primary leadership for years I sincerely wish we only called cub scout leaders to those who felt the “calling” – and if we lacked we combined with nearby organizations to make up the slack.

    so much leadership effort in the church goes to trying to get people to do what they don’t want to do . . . ugh . . .

  29. p.s. I have a fantasy of perpetually going on church service/humanitarian missions in developing countries.

    I feel called to that and Primary Chorister . . . interestingly enough . . .

  30. Love this, Angela.

  31. Ganymede says:

    In the absence of revelation, we are left with the wisdom of men. 15 of them, at present. None of a mind, or of an age, to consider happily the requests of uppity women.

  32. N. Brown says:

    Great post. If, like other religions, we had a professional clergy that solely possessed the priesthood, it is interesting to consider if we would still make gender binaries a key part of our religious teachings. What would replace the priesthood in the rhetoric that defines maleness through priesthood and femaleness through motherhood?

  33. Am I the only one who sees a lot of women in impressive, important roles in the church? Is an ordained position really the only way to have influence? Come with me to an Area Public Affairs meeting and you will see some amazing women leading the Priesthood in impressive ways. Those women are incredible and do great work for the church. I do desperately hope my husband gets to be a mission president some day because I can’t wait preside alongside him, which I know he will absolutely appreciate and encourage. We are partners. Even as a young sister missionary in the early 00s I served in leadership positions, attended PEC, helped with transfers, trained and traveled, etc. My mother is stake RS president and she sits on the stand by the men and works with them in mutual respect and counsel because she expects it and they appreciate her work. Faithful, active, hard working women who want opportunities for responsibility and leadership get them, in my experience.

  34. N. Brown says:

    Very often, one sees Mormon feminists write, “I do not support female ordination, but I support X and Y.” By implicitly positioning female ordination as beyond the limit of respectful feminist advocacy, and disclaiming one’s desire for it, I believe some Mormon feminists find the security–and sense of remaining in the fold–that they need to advocate for more moderate change. This has the effect, however, of reinforcing the idea that those who do vocally seek female ordination are a radical fringe—the feminist “others” against which moderate Mormon feminism can be defined.

    Like others, I believe that the number of Mormons open to the idea of female ordination is potentially far higher than the Pew survey reports. People are unlikely to voice support for female ordination when doing so makes them objects of attacks, calls their faith into question, alienates friends and family, and may risk thwarting incremental, though significant progress regarding the treatment of women in the church.

  35. Vanessa you are not the only one to see women as impressive. What is so odd to me about this discussion is I have yet to understand why a small group of women seek the Priesthood. What would you do with it that you can’t do now? What is the point of women having the Priesthood outside the temple?

  36. Angela C says:

    “People are unlikely to voice support for female ordination when doing so makes them objects of attacks, calls their faith into question, alienates friends and family, and may risk thwarting incremental, though significant progress regarding the treatment of women in the church.” Excellent point. What percentage of men and women who oppose female ordination simply do so because they await instruction from church leaders to support it?

  37. N. Brown says:

    I think it is important to remember that the question of female ordination is not only a debate about the opportunities for women to serve and fill leadership roles in the daily church organization–important though that topic is. It also should be a debate about where women fit within the theological structure of the church. The priesthood strikes me as about more than leadership–it is also about the order that unites us to God and enable us to act on his behalf. Where women fit into this divine scheme remains to me an unanswered question–and one that matters to me if we take the priesthood seriously as a theological as well as an administrative order.

  38. What do some women want with the Priesthood? Do they want to be a Bishop? What is their reasoning? I’d prefer to hear from a woman who actually wants this.

  39. Angela C says:

    mlbrown1830: nothing easier. Please visit this site:

  40. Thomas Parkin says:

    Almost apropos of nothing – I don’t even think we know what Priesthood is. It certainly is not always clear to me. I personally think it is very little more to it than the authority to conduct ordinances. “Little more” is badly said, since administering ordinances is pretty much the only essential thing. What would Jesus do if he were here? Undoubtedly many things, but the thing he would do for sure is bless the Sacrament. But it is not expressly to do with decision making and is, ideally, the very opposite of exercising authority in the ways we imagine it.

    I think there is a massive conflation of Priesthood with Priesthood leadership, and therefore with exercised power. What is desired? Well, one thing is the desire to ‘participate in the decision making process.’ But this doesn’t have to do with Priesthood, but rather Priesthood Leadership. Something you kind of have to note: this is something only a small minority of active men will participate in, whether they feel called to it or not. I feel very uncomfortable with aspiration to leadership – including when I feel it myself.

    The other thing that might be desired in the spiritual gifts that seem to be exclusive to Priesthood Leadership. I think we have a serious problem, however, in believing that the powerful spiritual experiences are reserved for, or because of the position involved much more likely to be experienced by people in leadership positions. This is made much worse by the kind of semi-worship we give to Priesthood leaders. (Not only General Authorities, but especially them.) The most powerful spiritual experiences I’ve known haven’t had to do with position in the church, they haven’t even had to do with being a father. Rather, they’ve had to do with coming to know the nature and personality of God, and thereby understanding my own cosmological place, making sense of life. These kinds of augmentations of knowledge are universally available. Being an apostle, or a man, has all of zero to do with it.

    To sum up – I’m not opposed to ordination for women. In fact, I think some more explicit form of ordination is historically inevitable. I think being ordained to the Priesthood named for Melchizedek only to avoid too frequent mention of the name of God is necessary for both men and women – not least because we come to Heavenly Parents through Christ, and not in some other way. Gender is irrelevant to this. In so far as Priesthood is the path that leads to Christ (see the Oath and Covenant) it must be participated in by both men and women. This is already in place, but it seems to me that a more explicit ordination for women would be beneficial.

    In the end, though, serving in the offices to which one is called will involve a degree of submission. It isn’t about what we feel called to do – I think Ardis’ latest on Keepa is pretty much on track – though my feelings aren’t running in exactly in the way hers are running.

  41. I think Thomas hit the nail on the head: “I don’t even think we know what Priesthood is.” I actually think this is particularly true of the people who are advocating for women to be ordained to Priesthood offices, as it indicates they don’t realize they already have it! As I just posted elsewhere:

    The Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. Ergo, any woman with the authority to act in the name of God holds the Priesthood. For some reason, men need to be ordained to some pittance of an office that limits our power in a hierarchal structure; and for some reason, women have no such limitations—a testament to their inherent superiority and divinity. Frankly, I think Sheri Dew said it best:

    Bottom line: women seem to have the same level of authority as the Deity who rules and reigns over all, simply by virtue of being female; yet the women in the OWM want to be demoted to the same level of authority as some random guy in the next pew. I really don’t think they’ve thought this through very well. :-/

  42. A baby step (not particularly revolutionary) would be to allow women to hold more church positions, like Sunday School president, clerks, etc. Yes, that would be a very small step, but it would better utilize the talent pool.

  43. momstronomer says:

    Great read. My dream church calling is regional girls camp consultant. It doesn’t exist, obviously. Yet. But it should!

  44. small s steve says:

    I wholeheartedly agree, Thomas. Priesthood, priesthood leadership, or whatever you want to call it, has more to do with exercising faith and communing with God through his Spirit in serving His children. As such, it obeys no pretended gender boundaries. I really think this is one area of the LDS gospel where we have followed the foolish traditions of our fathers.

  45. Excellent, as usual, Thomas.

    Getting a better handle on all issues relative to the Priesthood and de-conflating things is the first step I desire.

  46. Angela, you hit the nail on the head for me. One, just one, of the reasons I am inactive is that I am NOT called to the work as the church defines it. I cannot, for my emotional health, dedicate my entire life to the church, but that is what is expected of me as a priesthood holder. I don’t return as I know firsthand the pressure I will be under to conform to the expectations of a priesthood holder. 3 hours on Sunday, unless you’re in a leadership position, then it’s all day. Home teaching during the week. Saturdays filled with service. When do I see my family? When do I rest? Perhaps if the church utilized all of its members talents I, and I imagine others like me, might feel capable of participating. YMMV.

  47. Leonard R. says:

    I think this all serves as a profound commentary on two sections of the D&C.

    Section 4, with its injunction that those who desire to serve are called to the work. I don’t believe this is limited to missionary work, but the whole work of salvation.


    Section 84, wherein we recognize that the promises given in the oath and covenant are definitely not limited to gender. (Unless only men are to be fully saved…).

    Wonderful post and comments here.

  48. Melinda L. Brown says:

    After reading this comments over the last two days it’s clear how few understand what the Priesthood is. I am hopeful those who have a grievance with the Church leaders will leave the Church sooner than later. Not because they are not worthy but simply because they are not interested in serving but complaining. Elder Maxwell stated this perfectly in a 1981 talk: Then we will see who stands, both on holy ground and on holy principles!

    Jesus described some of these realities and the casualties of conversion and retention thusly:

    Some [seeds] fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

    And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. [Matthew 13:5–6]

    Happily, Alma elaborated concerning how that gospel seed can grow, nourished by “faith with great diligence, and with patience” (Alma 32:41). Properly nourished, it will develop a good root system, and even when the heat of the sun comes and scorches, it will not wither (see Alma 32:28–38). By using a word as graphic as scorched to describe the heat which believers will feel, the Lord, who is not given to hyperbole, tells us something about the heat that will come, not alone in the rigors of individual life, but also in the special summer of circumstances which Jesus said would come when the leaves of the fig tree sprouted (see Matthew 24:32). That summer is upon us, and only those who are grounded, rooted, established, and settled will survive spiritually.

    The murmuring I’m reading in this blog alone is evidence of scripture being fulfilled. The separation of the wheat and the tares. See Section 86: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, December 6, 1832. This revelation was received while the Prophet was reviewing and editing the manuscript of the translation of the Bible.
    1–7, The Lord gives the meaning of the parable of the wheat and tares; 8–11, He explains priesthood blessings to those who are lawful heirs according to the flesh.

    As I see it, many are rebelling for the sake of being heard is not a righteous cause. Unless you clearly understand the Priesthood and the keys that are on the Earth today, you would be wise to study more and talk less.

  49. I am hopeful those who have a grievance with the Church leaders will leave the Church sooner than later.

    How can you hope for something like that? I wonder how you’d explain that position to Jesus, Melinda? He left the 99 and went after the one- and suggested we do the same.

  50. It’s just so easy to tell the wheat from the tares, isn’t it? Thanks Melinda for reminding us. Your righteous example is a lamp to our feet.

  51. Melinda, I’m confused. I thought the separation of the wheat and the tares only happened when Christ comes again?

    30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 13)

    Please explain how you can advocate the separation now? Won’t you root up the wheat along with the tares if you do that? Or are you claiming the Christ has come again and the harvest is upon us?

  52. The philosophies of Melinda, mingled with scripture.

  53. Angela, this is a really excellent article. Thank you. I recently came to the conclusion that the church cannot adequately address the issue of female ordination without also addressing the issue of male ordination. The problem is this: speaking collectively, neither men nor women want to exercise the priesthood. The natural man is a free-rider.

    Yes, men and women are grateful to others who take on the burden of priesthood adminstration in order to guide the church. They readily see that priesthood holders become more Christ-like through the service, and thus desire the authority be conveyed on their sons, brothers, and husbands. And they value the spiritual blessings that come through personally exercising priesthood ordinances. But overall, most members, regardless of gender, view priesthood ordination as a net negative for them personally. The burdens of hometeaching and possibility that you may be called as bishop outweigh the joy of the service. That is why so many women say “I’m too busy already.” And that is why most priesthood holders fail to live up to their responsibilities. For the men, they never really wanted those responsibilities. They simply took them because of (i) family and social pressure, and (ii) requirements that men be ordained in order to participate in temple ordiances.

    If you don’t believe me (most women balk when they hear that LDS men don’t want the priesthood), here is the $64,000 question to ask your readers: “Supposed the Lord revealed that priesthood would be extended in one of two ways to members of the church. The Lord says that either of these ways are acceptable, and leaves the matter in the hands of the members to decide. The two ways are (i) all members, male and female, are required to exercise the same priesthood and be bound by the same oath and covenant in order to achieve exaltation, or (ii) priesthood is necessary for church ordinances and administration, but not for exaltation; thus all members may choose to receive it but none will be compelled and no ordinances or blessings with be withheld from those who choose not to seek the priesthood. As a member, which option would you prefer?” I find this question effectively gets to the rub, which is that most women do not want the priesthood themselves, but also do not want their sons and husbands to have a choice.

    Circling back to the issue of female ordination, I see the same end game here as with the racial priesthood ban. Women will eventually be ordained. But the primary reason will not be inspiring. It will come because men have largely abandoned the priesthood and women must be ordained to keep the ship moving. Blacks were given the priesthood primarily because the church could not continue to operate in Brazil with the ban. We are heading toward the same reality with women and priesthood. Give it 10-15 years.

  54. Way back up there, Rebecca, you bring up the Pew data and says that only 13% of men support ordination for women, not 48%. I think there are two different survey results out there that you’re mixing up. The Pew data you point to has men at 13% and women at 8%. The American Grace data that Angela cites have men at 48% and women at 10%. (These are all from memory so I might be a little off.)

  55. Dave, I really like your question. So do you think most people would go with (i) or (ii)?

    Angela, wonderful post! You bring up so many excellent points. Just to grab one I particularly like, I think you explain the talent pool problem, where we pull from only (less than) half of the pool for most heavy-duty callings, more clearly than I’ve ever seen it explained before.

  56. Liffey Banks says:

    I loved this post, although I still wince at the common disclaimer of “I don’t personally want the priesthood… but…” I hope someday you can be a Mission President – you’d be wonderful.

  57. Ziff, I only have a very small data set. With that caveat, my experience is that most people really dislike the question and refuse to answer it. For those who do answer, their initial gut response is (ii), but after mulling it over they eventually reluctantly side with (i).

    My conclusion is that all members, men and women, simply don’t trust that other members will voluntarily share the burdens if accept the burdens first. By experience, we believe that most others will free-ride off of our efforts. That is a primary reason for many women’s opposition to female ordination: they don’t trust that their sons and husbands will put forth the same effort if women were to share the responsibilities. Unfortunately (again, speaking collectively), I think they are right.

  58. Otterwithkids–from the multiple interviews I’ve listened to with OW leaders, I have understood that many do indeed understand that an endowed woman already has the priesthood, so to speak. When I recently re-listened to Linda K. Newell’s 1981 Sunstone paper on female washing, anointing, and blessing, I strongly felt this disconnect between what I receive in the temple and how to enact it in my daily life. Sure, I’m all about VTeaching, administering the poor (esp. when I was RS prez), praying, etc, but there is something so very different about the physical act of laying on of hands, for example. I know Neylan McBaine is encouraging women to claim this already obtained priesthood power from the temple, but it may not seem enough for some women who feel the call. (Btw, I’m not apart of OW, but I am supportive of their efforts.) But I do agree with you that I think many endowed women in the church may not even realize their connection between temple priesthood power and their abilities. Although, I will say that most mormon feminists do not fall into this camp (I know…generalizing here), as this is something most have wrestled with.

    Melinda L. Brown–I appreciate differences of opinion (that’s one reason why I love this blog!), but your last comment really undermines Elder Uchtdorf’s words in October, “There is room for you here.”

  59. Melinda L. Brown says:

    Corrina: I agree my comments were direct; perhaps even harsh. I’ve chosen to be dedicated to sustaining the leaders of Christ’s Church and I want to follow the Lords commandments. This issue of women holding the Holy Priesthood is not about culture or old, white men being in charge. It is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what He himself established. Some consider it a burden to serve. Some see service as a way to demonstrate our love to our fellow brothers and sisters. If you’re not going to help, then move out of the way. I’m not saying this with criticism. Just a fact. If you think it’s too hard to serve, then don’t. But please don’t stand around and murmur while others are working.

  60. Corrina: For clarification, the “you” in my comments are the generalized “you”.

  61. As a member of another faith I know I’m not really part of the conversation, but I do want to offer a comment. In many Protestant churches, ordination is not quite the equivalent of priesthood in the LDS tradition. That is, the ordained minister/clergyperson is seen as having a particular “calling” if you will, but all members have a spiritual vocation in the sense of the Bible’s “all are made kings and priets unto God.” So, in some churches, the minister is not the only one who can perform certain acts (except where there is a state requirement, e.g., marriages) but many actions can be undertaken by many people. If its any comfort, this is sometimes contentious among/between Protestant churches. Although Protestant ministers haven’t been too positively portrayed in LDS tradition, there might be something to learn from the idea of a broadly shared “priesthood of all believers” that is, I think, at the heart of LDS and Protestant convictions.

  62. Dave K: “most women do not want the priesthood themselves, but also do not want their sons and husbands to have a choice” This is a very interesting perspective, and I suspect it’s true for many at least on some level. It fits in with the idea that priesthood exists to domesticate the men as women are (theoretically anyway) domesticated by pregnancy and childbearing. There’s your priesthood = motherhood argument. The problem is there’s nothing uniquely Mormon to being a mother, and men are becoming more and more equal partners in the home, surpassing the minimal involvement required by priesthood.

  63. regardless of how the priesthood power is shared with respect to ordinances, I advocate for women’s voices to be folded into the administration of the Church. As in, if there is a decision making board who is making decisions that will effect women, women should be represented on that board in equal numbers (correlation, temple, mission, welfare, etc.). If it is important to listen to the women in the Church, then let them have equal access to the decision-making tables. Not just sharing our opinions and thoughts for leaders to consider when making decisions. However that is to happen, I am in favor. And I’m *personally* seeking that position. I’m seeking for a female to be there. It can happen with or without female ordination.

  64. haha — that sentence should read “I’m NOT *personally seeking that position” !!

  65. Kristine A. There is such an Administration. It’s called the General Relief Society Board. Also, have you notice the new changes the leaders have made: The presidents of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are announcing changes in their organizations that will help meet the global needs of women and girls ages eight and older. The Young Women organization will now have five board members who live outside of Utah, four internationally. This is the first auxiliary organization to expand its leadership overseas, and all three organizations will transition leadership training seminars previously held only at Church headquarters to online training available for Mormon women leaders around the world.

  66. Melinda, I would posit that the Lord’s mantra, instead of “if you’re not going to serve, get out of the way” would be “if you’re not going to love, get out of the way.”

    What good is service without real, Christlike love? Perhaps stepping back and seeing where your comments could use a sprinkling of charity might help you understand where the OP is coming from.

  67. Jay, I appreciate that my comments are harsh. In a kinder way I could say, be nice and don’t criticize our church leaders. If you’re going to help great. If not, then please move. Either way, my point is the same. Please note I’m not making a judgment on anyone and I’m not being critical. I’m being blunt. My charity is, I serve the best I can in my calling, as a temple worker, as a volunteer teacher at the local prison, help clean the church building, give fast offerings, and all I can do in building up the kingdom. I assume others are doing the same. In this topic, women holding the Priesthood…it’s not doctrinal and Christ didn’t teach it.

  68. What's Really At Issue? says:

    Doctrine and Covenants, Section 28:

    6 And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church;
    7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.

    From the cited article: “Ordination of women to the priesthood,” the spokeswoman adds, “is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for his church.”

    See Doctrine and Covenants, section 20 for the “revealed organization for his church.”

    Please also consider the talks from last October Conference, especially those from Sister Carole M. Stephens (Do We Know What We Have?) and Elder Christofferson (The Moral Force of Women).

    There is a reason why the push for the ordination of women is (and will remain) a minority movement in the church. It’s because God has already answered this question about two centuries ago. He has revealed how His church is to be administered. Men and women both have equally critical and important responsibilities in the Lord’s Church. Just as the eye can’t say to the hand, “I have no need of thee,” a mother cannot say that her sphere of influence in the home or in Relief Society or in her community is any less important than President Monson’s sphere of influence in his own stewardship.

    Ironically, by indicating that women need the priesthood, one also implies that God’s revealed plan for women isn’t enough for them. Do women really need another force out there telling them that what they do right now isn’t enough? Perhaps this was/is not duly considered by those who claim to be advocating for the welfare of women.

    The implication that President Monson and other living prophets ought to ask the Lord whether the priesthood could be granted to sisters betrays some very distressing assumptions. To propose this course of action is to imply one (or all) of the following: 1) The Lord hasn’t already given His answer, or the Lord’s first answer was not good enough [remember Joseph Smith and Martin Harris? See Doctrine and Covenants 10 for a refresher]; 2) President Monson (and possibly others) are experiencing some kind of disconnect with God, in one form or another, and thus the current organization of the church with a gender-specific priesthood is contrary to the will and mind of the Lord [consider the following statement from President Woodruff: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)” Note that in such an extraordinary (and frankly impossible) circumstance that the Prophet does lead the church astray, it is the Lord and not the members of the Church who will be the source of correction.]

    Revelation for the whole church comes from God to His prophets. That is the only channel through which such revelation will ever come, be it past, present or future. We have been commanded by God not to “command him who is at thy head” (see again D&C 28).

    “But what if God does reveal to President Monson tomorrow that the ordination of women to the priesthood is His will?” In that circumstance, I will happily follow the Prophet and sustain him. Given what the Lord has said on the matter, however, don’t expect me to hold my breath while I wait for that revelation. The Church has flatly stated that the ordination of women to the priesthood is “contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for his church.” Some may seek to split hairs with me and say it was only a spokeswoman for the Church who said that, and not the Prophet himself. Are we really going to question the institutional integrity and cohesion of a divinely inspired organization to the point that we can’t even trust that spokespersons for the Church to accurately reflect the First Presidency’s sentiments on such matters?

    Of course, it’s nothing new for groups of people to get confused about the doctrines of the church and try to promote a new way of running things in the church. It happened in the Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi chapter 1. See what happened here and consider for a moment what course the Book of Mormon prophets would recommend to the Ordain Women movement (and other similar organizations):

    24 And there were no contentions, save it were a few that began to preach, endeavoring to prove by the scriptures that it was no more expedient to observe the law of Moses. Now in this thing they did err, having not understood the scriptures.

    25 But it came to pass that they soon became converted, and were convinced of the error which they were in, for it was made known unto them that the law was not yet fulfilled, and that it must be fulfilled in every whit; yea, the word came unto them that it must be fulfilled; yea, that one jot or tittle should not pass away till it should all be fulfilled; therefore in this same year were they brought to a knowledge of their error and did confess their faults.

    Will those who support the aims of the Ordain Women movement, be like these Nephites and trust the Lord’s servants? I certainly hope so. Their talents and abilities are needed in the church.

    For those who don’t believe that President Monson or any of the other leaders of the church are living prophets, seers, and revelators, and also to one degree or another disagree with this perspective on ordination, consider for a moment the following: If they aren’t prophets, what does their priesthood matter? Why agitate to grant women access to something that isn’t what it claims to be? Why agitate to gain entry to any session of General Conference when you don’t believe they are who they say they are?

  69. ” Please note I’m not making a judgment on anyone and I’m not being critical”

    Except of Kate Kelly, the entire Ordain Women movement and those who agree with them. You’ve explicitly criticized those three groups in this thread. You can’t have it both ways, Melinda: either own the fact that you’ve called for those people to leave the church or just admit that a lot of what you’ve been saying in this thread has been uncharitable and wrong.

  70. Melinda, can you clarify what you mean by “please move?” Are you suggesting that these members should leave the church? If so, by what authority do you make that judgment? A person’s worthiness to be a member is decided solely by their local bishop and/or stake president. As you do not have priesthood authority (and by your own admission likely never will), it appears safe to conclude that you are making a judgment outside your authority. That’s rather ironic considering the context. But it is also very harmful. Please. Stop. It. You are welcome to make judgments as to whether actions/beliefs are appropriate, or even doctrinal, but you cross a line when you judge an individual’s worthiness to be a member. Sorry to be blunt.

    PS – I should throw in some charity too. Thank you for your service in the temple, prison, building, fast offerings, and all other areas. I’m sure you are doing a lot of good.

  71. Magnolia Warbler says:

    Wonderfu OP and thought-provoking comments!

    Melinda, I think there is far more room for differences in opinion than you are allowing. A person can cheerfully and tirelessly serve while still seeing room for improvement in the way women are included in the organization of the church (laying aside, for now, the issue of ordination). In this interview with Sister Chieko Okazaki of the General Relief Society Presidency, she expresses sadness and frustration with the way some of her efforts to serve were stymied by the way the church is organized. I don’t think anyone can accuse such a Christlike woman of just being in the way or of complaining. We’re all just internet people here and most of us don’t know each other in real life, but I hazard to guess that many people here that you are asking to leave the church serve with dedication and love in their everyday lives, as I am sure you do.

  72. mlbrown: please show me where the RS General Board is incorporated in 50% representation on the decision-making boards of the church. I’m going to need to see citations. Closest I see is 2/11 members of the Church Board of Education are women.

    And in reading the works of Chieko Okazaki she specifically mentioned she and her RS board developed a curriculum for the Relief Society when the Curriculum department came to them and said, nope – we already did that for you here it is. She was incredulous that no one had bothered to consult the RS in the development of curricula, let alone let them know it was happening so efforts weren’t wasted. Certainly would be nice to know if there are 50% of women on that committee….. So I’d be pleased to see your citations.

    And I do appreciate the expanded representation of women on general boards, hope that approach spreads to all decision making boards of the church.

  73. What’s Really At Issue? The problem with your argument is that Christ never taught that women should be excluded from the priesthood. There’s no scripture on the subject anywhere – ancient or modern. To get to that conclusion you have to read into the scriptural account an intent to exclude. But if you do that, to be consistent, you must also exclude women from all other actions that Christ allowed men (but not women) to do – teach at synagogue, sing hymns, say prayers, ride on boats, and oh yes, serve missions. Oddly enough, when Joseph was prophet, only men were called on missions (you can see many such mission calls in the D/C). Yet by 1898, Wilford Woodruff felt women could be called as missionaries without any claim to revelation.

  74. Hi Dave: in the context of what I said in replying to Corrina: “If you’re not going to help, then move out of the way.” I wasn’t speaking to Corrina, that she should move. My message is if someone is working/serving and others are just standing around saying what a burden service is, then my message to those standing around murmuring is to move while the rest of us continue working. I’m a blunt person. I’m not a mean or unfeeling person. I admit I don’t feel very patient with those who complain (myself included) and those who don’t support our leaders. We know very well that we aren’t to follow blindly. We are told to ask for answers, to seek further light and knowledge, and we are also told to put our shoulders to the wheel.

  75. If people are only going to complain and murmur against our leaders and how the Lord has set up things, then I’m okay with them leaving and going where they are happier. I imagine very soon a small minority of women will set up their own branch of the church and call themselves inspired to do so. To quote article of faith 11:We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. I agree Magnolia, I could say it in a kinder way. I’ll try and work on that. Honestly, I don’t want anyone to leave the church. But neither do I want to hear the ugliness that some people bring to the Gospel and to our leaders. I’m not talking about those who are happy and serve with a willing heart. I’m speaking of the minority who spread contention for the sake of spreading it.

  76. I don’t recall stating “there are 50% of women on a committee…”

  77. Dave K: What is the Priesthood and where is it excluding women? Are you a temple patron? As a temple ordinance worker I can promise you women are not excluded.

  78. There are people who question things; and who are still happy and serve with a willing heart. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

  79. Melinda, it seems I misunderstood your comments. If so, I apologize. If your intent was to encourage the women (and men) of OW to “move” into action in supporting the church, I would recommend you review the many profiles on their website. You will see that, like yourself, they include many good members who are serving in callings and pushing forward the work of the church. They also do not view themselves as complainers, but as members who are asking for more from a desire for further light and knowledge.

  80. sorry if we are speaking past each other, this is a minor manner, I was just attempting to clarify. But that is what I requested, and you stated that it already existed.

    KristineA: “Administration in the church, if there is a decision making board who is making decisions that will effect women, women should be represented on that board in equal numbers (correlation, temple, mission, welfare, etc.)”
    mlbrown: “There is such an Administration. It’s called the General Relief Society Board.”

  81. Melinda, women are excluded from many priesthood ordinances because they do not have the AP or MP. They cannot baptize, administer the sacrament, confirm membership, serve in callings that require the AP or MP, and many many other actions. I am endowed, hold a recommend currently, and have served as a temple ordinance worker twice. I know of many areas in the temple where women are included in priesthood ordinances, for which I rejoice. I also know of a few areas where they are excluded. For example, they cannot seal, receive at the veil, or lead in prayer.

  82. And do they need to do those ordinances Dave? Why?

  83. For the same reasons we teach men that they should receive and exercise priesthood authority. By doing the acts of Christ, they become like Him. Christ is the example for both men and women.

    There’s also this …. “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give athe Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

  84. Melinda L. Brown says:

    It makes no sense to me Dave K. I understand what you’re saying but until the Lord sanctions it, it’s just men and women wanting something. I can’t see a purpose for it. I’m not asking you to explain yourself any further. We won’t agree on this. But I do appreciate your effort at explaining.

  85. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    The most rational baby step to me would be ordaining women temple workers to the office of high priestess. That would simply clarify the use of the authority that is already in practice. Or else further expand the doctrine as to why that office can equally be performed by women without the priesthood.

  86. Rigel – good point. To do baptisms, and confirmation, it’s always endowed men. To officiate in anything other than baptisms and confirmation, males are endowed and called to serve in the temple as temple workers. To perform sealings, endowed males are specifically given keys to do sealings. On the female side of things, endowed women are called as workers/presenters, and their work is to do initiatory and to assist with endowment sessions, including work at the veil. I’ve never read a temple handbook so I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of the various positions. However, I have always wondered about such things. The only answer I’ve come up with is a statement in the handbook that all things in the church are technically done by delegated priesthood authority by the one holding the keys. In other words, everything, from service as Stake President to service in the auxillaries is done by delegated priesthood authority. It follows that work performed by endowed sisters in the temple is also by delegated authority. I can only liken it to “ex officio” type of legal authority. This makes sense to me, and is why anything done outside that delegated authority is not recognized by the Lord. You have to wonder whether some sister somewhere has not convinced a priesthood holder to confer the priesthood upon her or ordain her to some office. Maybe people have done that privately. However, without approval by the one holding the keys (president), such an act would be meaningless. I think, too, that callings are separate from the priesthood. To serve in the office of Bishop, a man must be a MP holder. However, because you hold the MP does not mean you will be a Bishop. The priesthood and the office are distinct. A better example might be ward clerk. You have to be a MP holder, but Ward Clerk is not an “office” within the priesthood. Anyway, it would be great to hear a good doctrinal explanation of all that stuff.

  87. elephunky says:

    completely irrelevant to the conversation, but Melinda, why the duplicity of usernames? I’m trying to read everything you’ve said in these comments to understand your position better and it’s quite difficult with Melinda L. Brown, mlbrown1830, and melindalbrown1830.

  88. elephunky, I’m not sure why it’s doing that with the user names. I’m staying logged in unless it gets me out. Sorry about that.

  89. As I said previously, I am bothered far more by the judgmental assumptions about the people involved in OW than I am by the OW participants. As Pres. Uchtdorf said, “It’s not that simple.”

    Melinda, if you really are all about supporting and sustaining our leadership, perhaps you could review his talk, “Come, Join with Us” – and, although I personally don’t view their actions as sin, you also might want to consider Pres. Uchtdorf’s admonition, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do.”

    As Elder Wirthlin said in “Concern for the One”, Zion will be realized fully only when we collectively value the harmonic beauty of hearing all the instruments in the orchestra, not just the piccolos. For that to happen, we need to encourage two things: letting other instruments be played and asking the piccolos to play at a lower volume so a true balance can be heard.

  90. small s steve says:

    Some here seem to think that “supporting our leaders” and “asking for change” are mutually exclusive propositions; I wonder if they can imagine both attitudes coexisting within the same faithful, believing member. For example, can one sustain the prophet at a 95% level and yet still be considered faithful? Or does it have to be an all-or-none ultimatum? One person has also remarked that we should “support our leaders” but “we’re not to follow blindly”. It seems that “asking for change” would fit into the paradigm of not following blindly.

    Further, when some acknowledge that “the church is true, but the members are imperfect”, do they conceptualize the possibility that one’s imperfectness can encompass the imperfect interpretation of scripture/revelation? Or does our imperfection simply encompass being lazy, not fulfilling our callings, lack of repentance, etc.? It’s a valid question, because I always hear how the gospel is perfect but the members are imperfect, as if it’s some time-tested foregone conclusion. Somewhere along the line you have to establish the nexus between “the gospel” and “the members”. Sorry for the crazy use of quotes.

  91. .

    Ah! The great tension that makes us Mormon! Following our conscience and following our leaders and—most vitally—navigating the occasional dissonance.

    Would we have it any other way?

  92. Wonderful comment by Thomas Parkin, profound, well thought out and yet questioning, beauty in both thought and word.

  93. I have held myself apart from much of this discussion, mostly because I have been inclined to adhere to the notion of a priesthood of all believers. As has occurred previously, I find Angela C’s insights thought-provoking. I did smile when reading your comment re a corporate executive with a heart of gold. Most of us (I’m retired now) could more aptly have been described as having hearts that fit in a gnat’s navel, so you must be unique, hawkgrrl.

    I pre-emptively took Melinda’s advice over 30 years and, while not regret-free, can at least reflect that I haven’t had to endure such harangues on a weekly basis since then.

    I would think that serious students of Mormon history would have a more open mind as to possibilities of further revelation. Givens and Grow’s recent biography of Parley P. Pratt refers to conversations Joseph Smith had with Pratt where he stated there was so much more that he could reveal but that the weakness and stubbornness of the membership precluded it. Not only do we have Smith’s declarations to the early Relief Society as to their eventual authority, but also it is very interesting that Sidney Rigdon, not given to much original theology, ordained women in his offshoot sect after the post-Nauvoo diaspora.

    I find it fascinating that both Angela C. and Kate Kelly served missions in the Kingdom of Spain. So did I. But it was during the Franco dictatorship–today, Spain officially strives for gender equality to a greater extent than virtually every other European or Ibero-American state where 40 years ago, Spanish women were among the most cloistered and subservient women in Western Europe.

  94. …can one sustain the prophet at a 95% level and yet still be considered faithful? Great question! Isn’t it implied by doctrine that cautions us? Yet many seem to act as if 100% is the minimum required to be “faithful”, one’s 95% might as well be 0%! How can that be so?

  95. In the FAQ at the OW website there is the statement “Since leadership and positional authority in Mormonism is inextricably tied to priesthood ordination, it is clear that Mormon women must be ordained in order to be full and equal participants in their Church.”

    What if that link between authority and ordination were not so “inextricable”, such that there was more female representation and involvement in decision-making at all levels of the church organization? Would that be sufficient?

    I’m trying to understand better whether this is about priesthood ministration or priesthood administration. This tidbit makes it sound like administration, but I’ve seen other tidbits suggesting the ministration is valued (blessing infants, healing blessings, etc.). I think this is the same question that Thomas Parkin raised using the words Priesthood vs. Priesthood Leadership.

  96. hemshadley says:

    I agree. There are many examples that go beyond the General Relief Society Board. It’s in the details, in the everyday way we manage the church. For example, my husband is on the High Council. He will meet on occasion with Bishops to discuss issues with the Primary as they arise. The Primary Stake leaders call my husband and tell him what they’d like him to convey in these meetings in which they are not present nor invited. Why not? I’m not asking for the Priesthood, just a voice, and a logical one at that.
    But I will admit, I am afraid at church to suggest changes that could be construed as progressive or feminist because someone could—and has—pigeonholed me as “one of those radical feminists”. Where does change come from in the church? Not just doctrinal change, but functional, or cultural? If Priesthood ordination ever came to women, I would embrace it. But I’m not going to lobby for it, because I think more importantly we have to start by first listening to women, and giving them a voice, and that has to start on the ground level. The Church has evolved in many important ways that are positive for women, but unless we can show we can implement small and simple changes with one another, how can we ever be ready for anything so great?

  97. On commitment and faithfulness, as the old saw goes “the chicken was interested but the pig was committed.” We all have differing definitions of what it means to sustain our church leaders. Take someone who raises his hand to signify he sustains the prophet but who writes and teaches consistently that the WoW is an archiac relic of ignorance, that Jesus drank whine, that marijuana is a God given, etc. Is such a person faithful? Is he sustaining church leaders? Or, is he merely agitating for change?

  98. Melinda,

    Yesterday you asked “Why do some women want the priesthood?” “What is their reasoning?” “What would you do with it that you can’t do now?” “What is the point of women having the Priesthood outside the temple?”

    Try replacing “women” with “men” in you questions. For most every good answer a man might give, I assure you there are faithful women who would answer the same..

  99. Melinda L. Brown says:

    I hope my name stays consistent today. For some reason I was having difficulty staying with the same user name. I feel very strongly that God ordained men and women to fulfill different roles. I’ve never believed that women run the world. I’ve never known of, read of, met anyone, who felt women run the world. It’s not good or bad, just reality. Is there a business, religious board, or school, etc., where the board of directors is 50% women and men? It’d be interesting to see if it’s out there. I’d like to hope so. My issue with women having the Priesthood is I can’t see what the purpose is? Did John get it wrong when he passed the Aaronic Priesthood on to Joseph and Oliver? Did God get it wrong? Why do women need the Priesthood? Men have it, as a gift, from God. Women have the blessings through their husbands, through the Sacrament ordinances, through the power of giving life.

  100. If you believe that the priesthood is a great gift, then it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why a woman might want it. It’s okay to sincerely believe that God only wants men to have it. But don’t treat a woman as an apostate if she wonders why.

  101. CE:I didn’t use the term “great gift.” I’m a pretty literal person. I’m aware that It makes it a challenge to talk to me because I really assume people say what they mean and mean what they say. I also don’t recall ever treating or saying a woman is/was an apostate if they expressed they want to hold the Priesthood. Here’s a question. Who would give the women the Priesthood since God hasn’t? By what authority would they obtain it?

  102. I feel like I’m eavesdropping on another family’s conversation. Thank you for letting me listen. I have learned a lot. I am wondering if there is a larger issue here than women’s ordination to the LDS priesthood? Not that that isn’t huge, but why does it stir up the passionate responses I’m seeing? Is there something that says only men can be priests, or is that just the way its been, so far? I know that some Catholic rhetoric emphasizes the maleness of Jesus’ disciples as the reason for their faith’s male priesthood, but it seems like other identifiers, e.g., they were all Jewish, some of them were fishermen, etc., aren’t so important. As an outsider, I wonder if the bigger issue for Mormons is the way the afterlife is set up (please correct me if I’ve misunderstood). Aren’t women required to be sealed to a priesthood-holding man to achieve exaltation? IOW, a woman can’t get there on her own. Would giving women priesthood fracture the celestial order in some way? Feel free to ignore, or respond, if it will forward teh conversation.

  103. Just pointing out, educationandreligion, that a man cannot achieve exaltation without being sealed to a woman. What that means for priesthood ordination is unclear to me (personally, I see it as a role thing, with men and women having different roles, so I don’t have a problem with women not being ordained to priesthood offices), but I just wanted to clarify that although it is true that the woman needs the man in the Lord, the man also needs the woman.

  104. educationandreligion: The “afterlife” requirements to get to exaltation is not a black and white response as far as I’m concerned. No man or woman can be exalted based on someone else; i.e., their spouse. Our covenants are individual. Our obedience is based on our individual choices. I feel very strongly our salvation (definition is open to interpretation) is based on how God and Christ judge us.

  105. @JonD: since there are about as many different opinions on the matter as there are Mormon women, you can not simplify the response to one answer about “what the issue is here”. Because of my experiences as a Relief Society and Primary President – I advocate for voice and administrative change, while having less passionate feelings regarding ordinance work.

    Also because of my experience as an accountant I’d love to be a financial clerk or auditor. My high councilman over auditing explained to me the reason they have men be auditors is because, like one ward in our Church, they have a financial clerk who thinks he knows everything so he doesn’t have to follow the rules – and the auditor has to come in and diplomatically tell him to shape up, because he has four exceptions. That the reason we have to use males is because of their diplomacy and the person below not being open to correction (especially from a woman; implying that know-it-all clerk barely listens to male stake auditor using diplomacy, and that somehow a woman’s diplomacy skills wouldn’t work because he’s such a misogynist??). I found his explanation of why I couldn’t serve as an auditor actually as a piece of evidence that strengthens my position of eliminating gender restrictions.

    Other women because of their life experiences are passionate about other issues they’d like to see changed. For example, I can see scriptural justification for allowing men and women to serve as witnesses to ordinances. It’s obvious the Savior chose a woman to be the first witness of the resurrection, even at a time when her testimony would not be considered in a court of law because she was a woman. I also hope to see the day when the blessings available to women in the past (laying on of hands, blessings, etc) are also restored.

    I have no idea how things will play out — or what changes will come, but I’m open to whatever form they happen, and know not all truth has been restored; I look forward to the day it is!

    @hemshadley – thank you, what a beautiful comment!

  106. educationandreligion: Neither men nor women can be exalted alone (marriage is required for both sexes according to our theology). Our temple theology implies both men and women have priesthood power, but it is subject to interpretation just what that means.

  107. Thank you Angela and to all others who replied to the questions in my post.

  108. small s steve says:

    I’m not agitating in favor of the OW cause, but I do think we can change our culture in ways that make sense spiritually, and that will ultimately bring men and women closer together.

    I think one cultural baby-step we can make right now is to instruct men and women together rather than separating them into priesthood quorums and Relief Society. The opposition I hear against this idea is that there are usually administrative details that must be addressed in these meetings, and this would take too much time from the “lesson”. I contend that such administrative details could be addressed quickly and efficiently, either at church or at some other time (how often do we take care of administrative matters using technology?). I think instructing men and women together allows for a variety of perspectives to be shared, and ultimately we would have a better understanding of the gospel and our respective roles in it. I would be better served by sitting next to my wife or another sister in class and hearing her thoughts and perspectives on how I can exercise the priesthood more faithfully. There is nothing secret about the priesthood, and there is nothing secret about Relief Society. In fact, both groups are engaged in the same process of providing “relief” to God’s children. Whether a given lesson focuses on the oath and covenant of the priesthood, or on the characteristics of God that allow us to serve more selflessly – it’s the same gospel and same work, whether it’s carried out by man or woman.

  109. Let me start by saying that I would not mind if “the Women” were ordained to the PH. It would make no difference to me or as far as I understand it would make no difference in the authority of women now. And if the Prophet were to receive a revelation that women should be ordained I would support that without hesitation. And for those who do not know it would take a DIRECT revelation from God to the current Prophet for this to happen. It would change one of the doctrines of the Church and the Prophet is the only person who can do this. This is not a simple policy change.

    There is probably some policy that could be changed. For example some of the “callings” in the Ward or Stake where it is currently considered necessary to hold the Priesthood that may not in reality need the Priesthood to hold. These could be changed without a direct revelation. But to ordain women to the Priesthood would take said communication from God.

    I have been following this “Movement” for about 30 years now. It has only really picked up tempo in the past few years. The thing that seems to escape most people and even everyone who posted on this thread, it is even in the title of this article. In general those who are seeking the priesthood ordination have the process backward.

    No one, not even the General Authorities sought for their position or “calling” in the church. They did not have or feel a “calling” then set out to get that position. That is contrary to the way the church operates. The precedent for this was set in the new testament. Many people criticize this process and many people who are involved in the process do not understand how it actually works. But in a nutshell when a need is recognized ordained leaders consult with God and others called to be a part of this process. Once agreement is reached a person is asked to serve in whatever capacity to meet that need. Or they are called to that position. That is the “Mormon or LDS definition of calling.

    So this ground up “movement” is by definition all backward and against the whole concept of the priesthood. I have many years of experience in church leadership and I can say that anytime someone comes forward and asks for a “calling” and it is given to them it never ends well. I don’t fully understand many things about the Priesthood but the section of scripture that is reversed in the title of this post “many are called but few are chosen” contains the key and secret to the authority of the Priesthood. I can also say there are many and, I will add many again to emphasize the point, many who are ordained to the Priesthood yet who have no authority from God to use it. And we never really know who they are because when the conditions are met in the heart, God says “amen” to His authority in that person. And one of those conditions is seeking a position or authority. So the paradox is that the act of seeking authority or the Priesthood could or does in fact remove your worthiness to hold it.

    The bottom line is that “the leaders” have considered ordaining women to the Priesthood for at least 30 years and as of yet the Prophet has not received a direct revelation on the subject. I don’t think this group or any group of member “protests” will change that. I do support your right to do this and ask for the revelation. And who knows maybe someday things will change and women will be ordained. But if or when it does it will be because the Lord has spoken to his ordained Prophet, and not before. I would not get your hopes up on a quick answer. I mean how many years have we asked for clarification on the Word of Wisdom and nothing has been received? How many years did it take for the revelation on “every worthy male” holding the Priesthood? Joseph Smith started asking that question almost as soon as the Priesthood was restored. If you think about it the newest revelation we have is one that reinforces the “male only” ordination to the Priesthood.

  110. small s steve says:

    I just want to add that D&C 4 is very instructive as it relates to callings. It is regularly recited and memorized in Aaronic priesthood quorums, but I submit that it applies equally to men and women, although it appears to be written by and for men.

  111. Kristine A, that is discouraging about the auditing. We have friends who served a senior couples mission as auditors, and they were called to that assignment because of the wife’s training in that area.

    But maybe she was too old to be a sex object, or they were willing to take correction from a stranger.

  112. What a messed up explanation about auditing restrictions. Philosophies of men, mingled with no scripture.

    So many of these issues would disappear if we had a healthier communal view of non-marital relationships between the sexes.

  113. and didn’t stereotype so broadly

  114. Someone said to me the other day that we as a church ought to be at the forefront of figuring out how men and women can work together without having sex with each other. Instead, we foster this paranoia, as though only one thing could possibly happen if you put a man and a woman in a room together. So amen to Ray’s suggestion that we need “a healthier communal view of non-marital relationships between the sexes.”

  115. Melinda L. Brown says:

    Question to anyone: Who would give the women the Priesthood since God hasn’t? By what authority would they obtain it?

  116. Melinda,
    I think that is the point. Without the approval of God, no one has the Priesthood.

  117. Jason K,
    There are so many points in Mormon culture that are so messed up it is a wonder that we ever get anything done. As you might have guessed I am a convert. I almost left the church until I realized the difference between Mormon culture and doctrine of the Church. And for all the people who claim say things like “if you only know the REAL truth of the Church you would leave” I say, I am well informed. I can’t say I have read everything people have said but I try to keep up with it. And thus far nothing has been shown to me that has even dented my convictions to the Church. Most and I say over 90% of the stuff people claim is in the Mormon culture category. Once I dug into what the church really teaches and compare that to what people present as what the church teaches I stay grounded.

  118. So amen to Ray’s suggestion that we need “a healthier communal view of non-marital relationships between the sexes.”

    The thing is, for anyone with a professional life outside of the BYU/Mormon Corridor bubble, this is already a reality. It doesn’t take long in a career unrelated to Mormonism to realize that men and women have professional, non-sexual relationships all the time. ALL THE TIME. It shines a very bright, undeniably weird, very uncomfortable light on the reality of Mormon relationships.

  119. Curtis, you and me both.

  120. Angela C says:

    Curtis: 1 Timothy 3:1. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

    D&C 4:3. “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;”

  121. Angela,
    The scriptures you quote are very true and real. It takes a special person to desire to be a Bishop. But what these are referring to is the desire of your heart. This is far different than calling the Stake President or Church Head Quarters and applying for or requesting to be called as a Bishop. Then when rejected organizing a protest until you get what you desire.

    Plus I can promise you that God knows the desires of the hearts of man. And He grants them their desires if they are in accordance with His plan.

  122. Plus you can do much of the work of a Bishop without being called as a Bishop.

  123. Angela C says:

    “This is far different than calling the Stake President or Church Head Quarters and applying for or requesting to be called as a Bishop. Then when rejected organizing a protest until you get what you desire.” I agree with your statement, but I disagree that it accurately reflects what Sister Kelly has done or is doing. From all I have seen, she is not asking for any specific office, just a fulfillment of the promises in the temple made to all.

    Missionary work is done on a voluntary basis. We do “apply” and then go. I’m not suggesting that we should change our callings to be like jobs we apply for, but there is something lost when callings are solely accepted based on duty and when the same small pool of people are the only recipients of these callings. Which is perhaps why some male critics of OW consider the Priesthood a burden, one they would prefer to share or shirk, and they begrudge the sisters the lighter duty we have been given.

    It is very real to feel a “vocation” or “calling” in one’s soul: a desire to do a specific type of work. We talk about it all the time: feeling the spirit of missionary work, feeling called to do genealogy or temple work, a desire to work with the disabled or the youth. We can do those things to some extent without a calling (except formal missionary service), but we lean on duty and obligation to fill callings, and the results we get are predictable.

    Consider this. For the most part, men in the church serve out of duty and obligation. For women, it’s mostly voluntary. Is it any wonder that some very committed women (in OW) are “volunteering” for more? That’s how women are trained to serve. Men, not so much.

  124. small s steve says:


    I think I’m a pretty good case study for you. I’ve served in bishoprics and on the high council and recently as high priest group leader. Partially due to what I think is ministerial/administerial dysfunction in the church, I asked to be released from leadership. I think the dysfunction is largely created by what you said, “leaning on duty and obligation to fill callings, and the results we get are predictable.” There is a huge burn-out factor and I feel many are in denial. I can’t help but think of the Joseph Smith quote that’s been drummed into my head every time I express concern about the challenges of juggling professional, family, and other obligations: “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” Believe me, I am keenly aware that I fall short. But I think the church needs to take a serious look at how it calls members to the work. Duty, obligation, guilt, and eternal punishment are no longer very good motivators for me. I’m now a clerk, which suits me just fine, but I have to believe there are others out there who feel like I do.


  125. For the most part, men in the church serve out of duty and obligation. For women, it’s mostly voluntary. Is it any wonder that some very committed women (in OW) are “volunteering” for more? That’s how women are trained to serve. Men, not so much.

    Angela that is a ridiculous and offensive assertion. I don’t think you really mean that. I hope you don’t. I think you are making some unfounded assumptions here based on the commentary and motivations of the few.

    Men are called to the Priesthood and there is certainly instruction that we have certain duties and obligations as priesthood bearers. But to assert that men serve out of duty and obligation for the most part is simply wrong. Most men I know and have served with grow into their responsibilities and develop a love of service just as much as the women around them. There may be certain responsibilities that they feel more passionate about than others but that’s par for the course in the women I’ve worked with as well. They may come to it from a different angle of attack but I think you’ve reached the point of bashing men when you make that claim.

    I’ve hesitated responding to this thread but your claims don’t wash with what I’ve witnessed as I’ve lived in various parts of the United States and Europe.

    While it is very real to feel a call to serve and I agree that many of the best Sister missionaries I encountered and still encounter speak of an overwhelming spiritual direction to serve. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that while we may present ourselves to the Lord and his appointed servants eager to serve, we are still called by the inspiration of the Lord to serve in official capacities. In my experience of working to understand the mind of the Lord when it comes to extending a calling, it is often the least obvious person who magnifies a responsibility best.

    I work tirelessly to train the young women and the women leaders within my Ward that it is their obligation and stewardship to oversee their organizations. That they should work equally yoked, neither in front of nor behind their husbands. They should not look to the Bishop for that inspiration but instead they should actively be seeking out how to grow and raise up the children, women, and men who serve under their stewardship. They have the rights to revelation and the rights to direct their organizations. As a Bishopric we really should act in a form of Advise and Consent to assist them in fulfilling the vision the Lord helps them develop for their stewardships. That is both the Spirit and the Letter of the Handbook.

    I can only directly impact the local organization but my prayers are that in so doing I can indirectly influence the Church culture beyond. I have no doubt the Lord is in charge and whatever changes need to be made will be made as we prepare ourselves for them.

  126. it's a series of tubes says:

    For the most part, men in the church serve out of duty and obligation. For women, it’s mostly voluntary….

    …That’s how women are trained to serve. Men, not so much.

    Stereotypes remain ugly and unhelpful, regardless of the direction they are pointed.

  127. Melinda asked “Who would give women the Priesthood since God hasn’t? By what authority would they obtain it?”

    Many supporters of the Ordain Women movement would disagree with the premise of your question — they believe that maybe God does want worthy women to hold the priesthood. But notice that for the most part OW supporters have not tried to take ordaination into their own hands — instead they are petitioning God’s authorized leaders.

    I assumed that your questions were sincere about why women would want the priesthood or how they would get it. I and others have sincerely tried to explain a certain point of view on these matters. I’m not trying to convince you that this view is right, I’m just trying to help you see that this view does exist.

    On the other hand, if your real goal here is to show that you support the status quo and think that the Ordain Women movement is wrong, then trust me, you have already succeeded.

  128. small s steve says:


    I don’t think Angela’s assertion is all that ridiculous and offensive. I’m constantly reminded of D&C 107:99-100, aren’t you?

  129. it's a series of tubes says:

    I’m constantly reminded of D&C 107:99-100, aren’t you?

    No, I’m constantly reminded that both genders make an identical covenant in the temple regarding everything they have been blessed with, including their time and talents, and how they are to be used.

  130. I agree with Angela’s point about the contrast between volunteer service vs. obligatory service. I know plenty of men (myself included) who don’t aspire to leadership responsibility, but it’s pretty much inevitable for worthy men in most wards and branches. Sure there are men who desire to serve in leadership positions. But desire doesn’t make you a candidate — it’s your worthiness and maleness that count. In contrast, there’s a whole group of women saying “Here I am Lord” and the church is replying “That’s not your place.” One doesn’t have to support ordination of women to recognize the disparate treatment, or see the potential benefits of more inclusive leadership.

  131. small s steve says:


    So you don’t see any extra emphasis on priesthood holders to perform their duty? Wow, we must be living in different dimensions.

  132. Angela C says:

    Tubes & OD: no offense intended, and I certainly don’t think men are worthless layabouts. If I gave that impression, it was poor communication on my part. Duty and covenant are one and the same really. We talk about duty a lot in the church; it’s not a bad word, at least not inherently. It does have its limits over time to motivate people, though, and doing something as a duty may help qualify one for the work, but there are still some men in these callings who are truly bad at them (a small percentage, hopefully). Would there be women who were bad at them too? Doubtless. But at least we’d have a bigger pool of worthy and willing members to choose from.

    While it’s true that women also get callings out of duty and consecration (e.g. I never asked to be put in the nursery, that is for darn sure), based on my discussions with my husband, he finds that the men are more often pushed to do things out of duty and obligation than what I hear presented to me as a woman. I hear more talk of volunteering, pitching in, helping out, and in terms of missions you can’t argue that women are obligated to go the way men are. Plenty of men go on missions purely due to pressure and not personal commitment. (Plenty go for the right reasons, too, no doubt). Women (at least in my day) only went if they felt an inner call to go.

    But when people who primarily see priesthood as a duty (someone foisted upon you) criticize the OW movement because women should be grateful not to have more to do, to me that falls a bit flat. These women are asking, volunteering, to do more. Since when is that such a bad thing? Surely we need more people motivated by an inner desire to serve and not guilted into it.

  133. Tracy, I hope you realize that when I said we need “a healthier communal view of non-marital relationships between the sexes” I was referring explicitly to our modern Mormon culture, not our modern American culture. Of course, we already have it outside our religious culture (although there obviously are different problems there, as well).

    I have spent extended time alone with one adult female in my professional work, many times – and traveled alone with a woman, in the same car, for multiple days – and stayed in the same hotel as that woman – etc., without getting anywhere near lines that ought not be crossed – and the very idea that such a situation would be so dangerous that it ought to be forbidden is beyond ridiculous outside the specific church culture of the last few decades.

    Sometimes, we strive not to be “of the world” so much that we rocket right past reasonable lines and pitch our tents in the wilderness of lunacy. The way we handle non-marital relationships between the sexes (and nearly all things related to sex and modesty, broadly) needs serious reform.

  134. it's a series of tubes says:

    Duty and covenant are one and the same really.

    I agree – and as such, any exhortations to endowed priesthood holders to perform their “duties” strike me as disingenuous or sloppy. Every endowed member has committed to the same things.

    So you don’t see any extra emphasis on priesthood holders to perform their duty? Wow, we must be living in different dimensions.

    Ignoring your oblique ad hominem – no, I don’t. I view any such exhortation as arising out of my temple covenants, not “priesthood”. The scope of the temple covenant is unlimited. It’s broader than any purported priesthood obligation.

    More broadly – if a revelation came that women were to be ordained? No problem by me.

  135. small s steve says:

    Sorry if you took that as anywhere near ad hominem. Let me rephrase: Wow, our experiences in Mormon culture and indoctrination must be very different. I’m glad that you view your temple covenant as the prevailing exhortation. Just make sure you avoid all those D&C scriptures about priesthood duty or the cognitive dissonance will get you. Duty to God handbook too.

  136. Melinda L. Brown says:

    CE: I’m certainly for the status quo of God being the one to give the Priesthood. I still have yet to hear a solid reason as to why a small handful of women seek this. I hear the answer, “I want the Priesthood because men have it.” It’s a odd reason. I’ve inquired sincerely and without mocking. I’m 100% certain that questions are good. God tells us to ask. The question has been asked and answered by the leaders.

  137. Melinda,

    No solid reason besides “because men have it?” Let’s take a quick tour of some comments above:

    — In the OP, Angela C said that she would like to help elders and sisters with missionary work the way her mission president did for her.
    — In the OP, Angela C suggested that it would lead to better church administration.
    — Several other commenters have said that they would like to see women have a greater influence in church administration [which could be accomplished through universal priesthood ordination].
    — Tracy M and Angela C both suggested that you read some profiles on the Ordain Women website. [Have you?]
    — BJJLawKate says she feels like there is an eternal plan for a female order of the priesthood that she would like to see fulfilled.
    — Kevin Barney linked to an excellent blog post he wrote a few years ago. In summary, his study of Mormon history has led him to believe that our current exclusion may be a cultural thing [which makes it a fair subject for reconsideration].
    — Dave K pointed out that Christ never taught that women should be excluded from the priesthood, and there’s no scripture on the subject anywhere.
    — Dave K pointed out that by doing the acts of Christ (i.e., performing priesthood ordinances), we become like Him [an admirable goal for any woman].
    — I pointed out that there are many good reasons why anyone might want the priesthood. It’s a pretty neat gift from God. The priesthood is the power to act in God’s name, to invoke his blessing on your children and others, to perform ordinances that bring salvation to mankind, to build up God’s kingdom in the latter days, and train a person to be more godly. I wouldn’t blame a woman for wondering if maybe she could take part in such a great thing. I’ll repeat: If you believe that the priesthood is a great gift [which you wouldn’t concede that you actually believe, but it seems you do], then it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why a woman might want it.

    You might not agree with any of these reasons. But don’t pretend that no one has offered you anything solid.

  138. In fact, no one here has argued that women should get the priesthood merely “because men have it.”

  139. it's a series of tubes says:

    Just make sure you avoid all those D&C scriptures about priesthood duty or the cognitive dissonance will get you.

    If you can show me a single scripture where the scope of my duty as a high priest exceeds the scope of my obligations under the temple covenant I mentioned, I’d like to hear it.

    Priesthood comes before the temple, not after.

  140. Angela, a very nice post, though my brain shivered at the phrase “mission president fantasy.” I certainly don’t understand the priesthood very well. Every time I’m asked to give a blessing I feel inadequate and I’m confident my wife would be more spiritually in tune.

  141. small s steve says:

    “The scope of the temple covenant is unlimited. It’s broader than any purported priesthood obligation.”

    Not sure I agree with that. I would say they are equivalent.

    “If you can show me a single scripture where the scope of my duty as a high priest exceeds the scope of my obligations under the temple covenant I mentioned, I’d like to hear it.”

    Not saying one exceeds the other, but read D&C 84:33-39. It requires faithfulness, calling magnification. I would say the covenant that promises “all that the Father hath” is both the priesthood magnified and the temple covenant. I don’t think it’s doctrinal to parse them as separate and distinct or that one is broader or more expansive. The implication for both is exaltation, not only having what God possesses, but becoming like Him. Eternal life and lives. Becoming the seed of Abraham means partaking in the Abrahamic covenant, which is the same covenant you receive in the temple. In other words, the greatest blessing that God can bestow on his children is the promise of a righteous posterity.

  142. Melinda L. Brown says:

    CE: My comments are next to what you copied.

    I appreciate your breaking it down; I sincerely do. Yes, those are reasons listed. – In the OP, Angela C said that she would like to help elders and sisters with missionary work the way her mission president did for her. (Her service now can help both elders and sister; especially those seeking the truth; investigators.)
    – In the OP, Angela C suggested that it would lead to better church administration. (Just an opinion)
    – Several other commenters have said that they would like to see women have a greater influence in church administration [which could be accomplished through universal priesthood ordination]. (Women already have influence in Church Administration. The General Relief Society Board)
    – Tracy M and Angela C both suggested that you read some profiles on the Ordain Women website. [Have you?] (I have read them.)
    – BJJLawKate says she feels like there is an eternal plan for a female order of the priesthood that she would like to see fulfilled. (Again, an opinion and/or a hope.)
    – Kevin Barney linked to an excellent blog post he wrote a few years ago. In summary, his study of Mormon history has led him to believe that our current exclusion may be a cultural thing [which makes it a fair subject for reconsideration]. (Cultural “thing” is not the same as God ordaining it.)
    – Dave K pointed out that Christ never taught that women should be excluded from the priesthood, and there’s no scripture on the subject anywhere. (Christ also never taught that they should hold the Priesthood.)
    – Dave K pointed out that by doing the acts of Christ (i.e., performing priesthood ordinances), we become like Him [an admirable goal for any woman]. (We women perform Christ-like acts by showing love and compassion. The Priesthood is not necessary to do those tender acts.)
    – I pointed out that there are many good reasons why anyone might want the priesthood. It’s a pretty neat gift from God. The priesthood is the power to act in God’s name, to invoke his blessing on your children and others, to perform ordinances that bring salvation to mankind, to build up God’s kingdom in the latter days, and train a person to be more godly. I wouldn’t blame a woman for wondering if maybe she could take part in such a great thing. I’ll repeat: If you believe that the priesthood is a great gift [which you wouldn’t concede that you actually believe, but it seems you do], then it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why a woman might want it. ( I don’t agree it’s a “neat gift.” I do believe it is the authority given by God to men. CE: If you want to call it a “neat gift” feel free.)

    You might not agree with any of these reasons. But don’t pretend that no one has offered you anything solid.

    Finally, CE. I was not in anyway pretending. For me, the final word is God has not established for women to have the Priesthood. Did he get it wrong? No. Do women need to be the same as men and men the same as women? No. We each hold different roles and duties in this life. CE: I truly appreciate your input. I think we’ve run the course of this conversation. Don’t you? My stand on women holding the Priesthood will NEVER change until God lets us know, through the Prophet of His Church, that the change is needed.

  143. RE Auditing – in my previous stake, our Stake Auditor was a widowed sister. She served in that calling for many years and as far as I know is still doing the job. It’s clearly not a “priesthood” calling throughout the church.

  144. I understand your stance, Melinda. When you say you haven’t heard a “solid reason” why a small handful of women seek the priesthood, you mean that you haven’t heard a reason that *you* think is valid. My apologies — I was only trying to help you understand someone else’s point of view, not convince you that they are right. Best of luck in all you do.

  145. As the discussion winds down, I want to thank you all for an amazing window into what you think about women and the LDS priesthood. As an outsider, it’s been a real education. I appreciate your commitment to your religion, so I make the following observations to suggest ways of thinking outside the box. I come from a Christian tradition which also has no paid clergy, but members of either sex can fill all church offices. Here’s what I’ve noticed at my small local church: men and women seem capable of filling any church office. Not everyone does a great job but their accomplishments don’t seem to have much to do with their sex. Men and women enjoy working together especially when there’s a shared sense of spiritual mission. We don’t have any rules about gender %s on boards or committees, but things seem to shake out OK. I have not noticed a lot of male/female tension, partly because committees meet as groups, include folks of different ages, etc.. It’s a good idea to have common-sense ground rules about a man and a woman working alone together in the building or on an intensive project; this can be done sensitively and without embarassing anyone at the board (governing) level, where both sexes have a say as elected representatives. We use rotation in office and elect our church officers, which I know is not part of your tradition. I do think working side by side in all church roles does have the potential to also positively influence family life and work life. Men and women become comfortable as coworkers in the gospel. I have not noticed that our approach has led to a sense that men and women are the same; its more complementary. Just thought you might want to know how it has been working in another lay-led (no professional clergy) church, where we’ve been doing it this way for about 110 years. BTW, we do sometimes have issues around culture and gender. For example, we elect two people, usually a man and a woman, to co-lead our worship services for 2 or 3-year terms. I have noticed a preference for the male to take the lead, but right now it’s not that way in my local congregation. Other areas where I expect stereotypes sometimes surprise me–who knew that some dads and grandfathers would do great jobs in the nursery and the preschool Sunday School class! It’s really not that surprising.

  146. small s steve,

    Like tubes, I’m trying to determine what greater obligations I took on to serve as a result of my priesthood ordinations that I also didn’t engage as a result of the covenants I made in the temple?

    Man or woman within the Church, once we’re baptized we essentially covenant ourselves to the Lord and to do as He calls upon us to do and as we find ourselves inspired to do. We take on higher and more specific covenants as a result of temple ordinances but they still fall into the realm of what Alma explained in Mosiah 18:8-10 and King Benjamin outlined in Mosiah 4:

    Be willing to serve Him and your fellow sisters and brothers at all times and in all places and work to bring forth His kingdom on Earth.

    Ultimately we’re talking about the call to service and we’ve all answered it in the temple.

    Women already receive the priesthood within the temple. How the Lord proceeds from there for what happens today is a question of earthly matters. As Thomas said above, the more we can decouple priesthood ministration from Church administration (I prefer this term to priesthood leadership as it is more specific) the better we begin to reach the focal point of what the priesthood really is. The priesthood is not really a call to lead. It is a call to serve. First shall be last and all that goodness.

    But because the Lord’s house is a house of order there is an organization that is structured around the Priesthood to establish leadership and direction of doctrine. As such, my question to OW is do you want to lead or do you want to serve? What I hear, and it’s a reasonable response, is we want a voice. We want input and opportunity to apply our talents as broadly as possible to support the Lord’s kingdom on Earth.

    That is not an unworthy desire. But their methods are questionable as many have called out. Their actions remind me of civil disobedience even if the intention is to simply present themselves as ready to serve. You cannot disassociate the intent from the outward appearance and impact that their “actions” have on the dialogue around gender equality within the Church. While they say they are not out to embarrass the Church they do not appear to hesitate to engage with the media and to take their petitions to the Press.

    Is there a healthy balance? Do they expect that as self appointed leaders of a women’s movement that their voice merits a sit down with the Prophet, an Apostle, or members of the Seventy? It seems to me that this is what they’re calling for. I don’t know how successful they will be. It is possible the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 will take the initiative of engaging instead with other women to pursue this discussion in a confidential manner as they work toward understanding the Lord’s mind.

  147. Melinda: “My stand on women holding the Priesthood will NEVER change until God lets us know, through the Prophet of His Church, that the change is needed.” Then you and the OW movement are in perfect sync. That’s exactly what Kate Kelly has requested, that the prophet seek revelation on this subject. So far, though, we have one statement made by Jessica Moody. Pres. Monson has not stated that he has received revelation that women should be excluded or that the gender ban is from God. There is no originating revelation on record or in the scriptures specifically excluding women, just as there was not with those of African descent. Status quo =/= revelation.

  148. Melinda L. Brown says:

    Angela C: No, we (Me and OW) are not in “perfect sync.” I would never be as disrespectful as she is or as contentious. While she, Kate Kelly, has no control over others, she has intentionally caused discontent. She and I are not on the same page at all. Also, she attempts to speak on behalf of others, as you did with me by stating she and I are in sync.

  149. it's a series of tubes says:

    Angela, an honest question: What do you think will occur if OW receives a statement from the First Presidency that the question had been asked and answered, and that the “status quo” is the answer? Do you think they will happily “fall in line”?

  150. Melinda says “I would never be as disrespectful as she is or as contentious”. Melinda, you have been the entire time you’ve been discussing this matter. Seek the beam in your eye.

  151. Shawn: You can see it that way. I have been honest and have never attacked anyone or called anyone names. I’m not sure why you choose to take offense. I can honestly say if I wanted to be offensive I could be. I choose to be honest and represent my beliefs. Offense is an emotion you choose to have. I can’t make you, or anyone, have that emotion.

  152. “Offense is an emotion you choose to have. I can’t make you, or anyone, have that emotion.” This is the most hilariously passive aggressive way I’ve ever heard anyone say “I don’t give a crap about your feelings.” Kudos.

  153. Karen H: It’s interesting how you chose to interpret a very clear, honest statement (not at all intended towards you) I made into your level of understanding. If I’d wanted to say those crude, crass words, I would have. A note of interest, my comments are called honest and direct, not passive aggressive.

  154. And Ms. Melinda, you are the likely solution to a number of problems; namely, a shortage of meetinghouses and crowded temples. And you seem to be just fine with that.

  155. Roger: Something I like about me, is that I’m teachable and I like learning; but I like learning in an honest and clear environment. I’m also aware (and it annoys a lot of people) I have an answer for EVERYTHING. Sometimes my answer is, I just don’t know and sometimes the answer I come up with is wrong. However, in regards to the topic of this 3 day chat, I’m not wrong. I’m not wrong only because I know that God has not said women need the Priesthood. I know that as his daughter, I’m a constant work in progress. If I say words that someone doesn’t like or have an attitude that someone doesn’t care for, how can I control them? I can’t and don’t. I hope to stay teachable and open to learning. That’s the best I can do.

  156. “I’m teachable.”

    “I’m right, and nobody else has any solid reason for disagreeing with me.”

  157. One thing I appreciated about having Melinda in the conversation was that most participants seemed to be coalescing around a shared set of ideas. Melinda was definitely not “there” and it gave me a sense of how hard this is, and it kept the fact that there are strong disagreements front and center.

  158. Thanks, ed&rel, for that perspective – seriously.

  159. Ed & Rel–

    The internet was not available for such discussions prior to the lifting of the benighted priesthood/temple ban in 1978. The declarations about how the status quo would continue until Abel had lineage were just as hard and fast and even more strident in class lessons all over the Church.

  160. Angela C says:

    Melinda: “Angela C: No, we (Me and OW) are not in “perfect sync.” I would never be as disrespectful as she is or as contentious. While she, Kate Kelly, has no control over others, she has intentionally caused discontent. She and I are not on the same page at all. Also, she attempts to speak on behalf of others, as you did with me by stating she and I are in sync.” I wasn’t attempting to speak on your behalf by saying you and Kate Kelly are in sync, just pointing out that you are stating that such a change requires revelation which is what Kate Kelly has also said; on that point, you are in sync. I disagree with you that she has intentionally caused discontent. I see her as having revealed or attempted to reveal the sociological problems that exist: the church’s true stance on the limited role of women (which honestly I don’t think the church has fully articulated yet), and some women’s true feelings about their place in the church (specifically those who feel women should be ordained). Harmony that is achieved by hiding the truth (including the truth about how marginalized groups of people feel) isn’t worth having, in my opinion. She hasn’t attempted to speak on behalf of others that I’ve seen. From all I’ve read, she’s been very careful to speak from her own perspective about her own faithful objective. Can you provide an example?

    tubes: “Angela, an honest question: What do you think will occur if OW receives a statement from the First Presidency that the question had been asked and answered, and that the “status quo” is the answer? Do you think they will happily “fall in line”?” I am not certain, but I believe integrity to her word is part of Kate Kelly’s M.O. If the prophet said “I have received revelation, and this is the way it needs to be,” my guess is she and other women would seek a meeting to hear more and to be heard. If OW succeeds in creating a better understanding of more female viewpoints among our male leadership, I can’t believe she or anyone would consider that a failure. There are individuals who have aligned with OW who, IMO, are not going to be placated by new revelation. Kate Kelly is on record stating that it is what they are seeking as a movement. She will stand by her words, IMO. She’s a human rights lawyer. She will follow that model.

  161. it's a series of tubes says:

    Thanks Angela, I appreciate your opinion and insight. Under our current bishop, my own ward operates (admittedly, in my opinion) in a very egalatarian fashion where the RS Pres, YW Pres, Primary Pres, etc have essentially complete autonomy (bugetary, operationally, etc) and the Bishop respects and defers to their right to inspiration in their respective roles, so this discussion has been helpful for me to see perspectives arising from wards where that is not the case.

  162. It is a basic tenant of our faith that new revelation will come (cf. AoF 9, Mormon 9:7) and sometimes that revelation even completely change our theological worldview. Look at all the doctrinal development from 1830 to 1844! Major changes come much more slowly now than during those early years, but we are wise not to be constrained by past understanding. Lots of early church members who left the church over new revelations and the accompanying changes. Collectively speaking, we laud the ones who stayed with Joseph and accepted “new” truths, but we might not allow ourselves to do the same.

    The church body looks to the Q15 for any major shifts. But contemporary concerns of the lay church membership can catalyze change and even new revelation.

    I will be very interested to see how this particular issue plays out over the coming months, years, and decades.

  163. “Status quo =/= revelation”

    Thanks for that, Angela. Arguing for the status quo just doesn’t make sense in this religion. We’re trying to build zion, with the assistance of ongoing revelation. Have we built it yet? Nope. Then the solutions and the patterns and the policies which will enable us to build zion are ahead of us, not behind us.

    Organizational and even doctrinal improvements and changes is kind of the whole point of this revelation stuff.

  164. “I would never be as disrespectful as she is or as contentious.”

    LOL! (Laughter is the emotion I have chosen to feel at this comment, thanks!)

  165. Hedgehog says:

    tenet of our faith, not tenant…
    seen it a few on blog comments recently (JonD above the latest), starting to bug me sorry…

  166. I feel like that while ordaining women will surely give women opportunities to serve in new ways, it will ultimate do more damage to the spirituality and growth of men. I feel women are more naturally predisposed to spirituality and so the priesthood gives the men an anchor to assist with their spiritual growth and development. But, my sense of how that would play out may be wrong–I’d hope it would be wrong.

  167. I just now saw this for the first time and I just have to say FANTASTIC post, Angela. SO many excellent points here. I wish that all Church members could see this.

  168. angela, i would love to talk to you for an article about mormon women in cosmopolitan magazine. you would be able to remain anonymous. please email me at

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