Poll: Female Healing

I’m curious as to what women feel they are currently ok doing in the Church with respect to providing blessings to others. Below is a brief poll for our female readers. I’m sure there are other permutations.

Here is a piece from the current Church Handbook, Section 20.1:

Performance of a saving ordinance requires authorization from a priesthood leader who holds the appropriate keys or who functions under the direction of a person who holds those keys. Such authorization is also required for naming and blessing a child, dedicating a grave, giving a patriarchal blessing, and preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament. Melchizedek Priesthood holders may consecrate oil, administer to the sick, give father’s blessings, and give other blessings of comfort and counsel without first seeking authorization from a priesthood leader.

Section 20.6.1 (administering to the sick):

Only Melchizedek Priesthood holders may administer to the sick or afflicted. Administering to the sick has two parts: (1) anointing with oil and (2) sealing the anointing.

Dudes: please don’t vote in the poll.

Comments

  1. Long-time listener, first-time caller says:

    I voted, but I didn’t feel like there were really enough descriptions/answers to choose from.

  2. Yeah there are a lot of permutations, like I said. Feel free to add in the comments what you think is missing.

  3. Before FC, I looked forward to a day when I felt I could lay hands on people and bless them. I still love the idea. What I am no longer sure about is the “Priesthood” part of it. I am not even sure there is such a thing as Priesthood. So I stick to prayers only now. I am told he hears me and it appears that prayers accomplish the same thing.

  4. Sometime in the ’60s, not long (no longer than 3 or 4 years) after his baptism, my father showed my mother what he had learned in his elders’ quorum from Priesthood and Church Government, that she could join him in a priesthood administration when I was sick at night. That memory no doubt is why I am far more comfortable with the idea than my generally conservative religious practices might suggest. This isn’t history to me. It’s my lived experience.

  5. As a “dude” I didn’t vote, but want to echo Ardis regarding lived experience. I know of and/or have received blessings from a grandmother, my mother, and my wife. I can’t speak for them on this poll (although I expect “invoking priesthood” would be a differentiator), but the general idea of a blessing from a woman is present and real.

  6. My husband is mentally ill and has had many priesthood blessings. But when it’s 2 am, and he is suicidal and doesn’t know how to make it through that moment, I lay my hands on his head and give him a blessing/prayer through my faith in Jesus Christ. It soothes him and gives us both comfort and a measure of peace. I don’t feel a shred of guilt or anxiety that this is not approved by God.

    I also blessed our asthmatic toddler thirty years ago when she was reacting to a bee sting. Again, by laying on of hands and through my faith, in an emergency situation with no priesthood holders around. No oil, no invoking the priesthood, no guilt.

    As I recall, seeing this as an option was more common when I joined the church at the end of the sixties. Women spoke of it, privately but with some confidence, in various permutations, including invoking their husband’s priesthood, which would have felt strange to me, but different strokes….

  7. My husband has given many blessings over the years but he has admitted that he does not understand why a blessing of healing is any more effective than a heartfelt prayer asking the same thing. I’ve always known my prayers were heard and cannot believe God would ignore one because it is not accompanied by ceremony. That is why I have never had any great concern about holding the priesthood myself. I just don’t see the need.

  8. Anon for this says:

    I don’t feel like I can/should put hands on head, but I feel very strongly about physical touch being a way to unite spirit to spirit, and I feel very into “laying on of hands” to pray with and for others. It is a blessing as I am invoking faith in Christ, and of those around me. I wold hold my child, hold someone’s hand, etc. Touch is its own kind of healing gift. And coupled with prayer and faith it is a powerful tool indeed.

  9. Last Lemming says:

    Once this poll has run its course, I’d like to see an identical poll for dudes to see how much they are comfortable with women doing.

  10. LL, we get the results of those polls every six months at conference.

  11. I would vote for option 2 as I am comfortable with the idea of other women performing such blessings, but I myself have feelings similar to Cat above regarding the existence of the priesthood, and about my faith in general, so I wouldn’t personally want to participate in giving such blessings.

  12. I echo Ann’s sentiments. God has shown me through the years He hears my prayers, even the unspoken ones. I’ve never felt diminished before Him because I haven’t been ordained to an office in the Priesthood.

  13. Oops, I meant the second to last option above.

  14. For me, I never thought about it much. Coming in as an adult, I didn’t know it was verboten. One night when my baby was sick, I just went ahead and did it. It seemed natural and felt right. I didn’t worry about it beyond that. It wasn’t until later that I learned it wasn’t done. I still think it was okay that I did it, and if I needed to, I’d do it again.

  15. cahkaylahlee says:

    I would be comfortable doing most of those permutations, if I were given instruction as to when, why, and how to do so. I’ve never had any of that though, so I probably wouldn’t think to do anything more than a prayer (I chose prayer-only.) Considering all (two? three?) of the stories I’ve heard *in church* about women healing with faith happened over 100 years ago…I don’t have any lived experience with it.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    For me it’s the same as Ardis. Kind of counterintuitive that us older folks are more comfortable with women being involved in blessings than the youngsters, but that was actually a thing back in the day. Really.

  17. The church has taught me that as a woman I don’t “need” the priesthood and that my prayer of faith is sufficient, so I take them at their word. I think of priesthood as something that is needed for church (blessing the sacrament, baptizing, etc.) but not at home.

  18. Also anon for this says:

    I’m with Anon for this. Somehow putting my hands on the head is a bridge too far for me, but I have, on occasion, privately placed my hands in my child’s hands, or on their arms or shoulders, and prayed for a blessing of healing. It was a very sacred thing to me. I feel somewhat enabled through stories of my great grandmother doing something similar in the early 1920’s – although she put her hands on her child’s head, as directed from her husband who was away on a mission at the time.

  19. These responses are amazing. Keep them coming!

  20. I’m going with “not comfortable with any religious performance beyond prayers” but that is simply because I feel as if it’s currently being forbidden by the church. I hope and pray (on a good day) that women will eventually be permitted to do everything that men are able to do in the church, just as men are able to make casseroles for sick people and put tablecloths out before teaching a lesson. It makes me so sad to think of sisters having less avenues for service now than we did 100 years ago. I’m left trying to figure out if: the church is right, and God has it the way he wants it.. or… the church is wrong, and women should be able to bless people… or…. right now, for whatever reason, God doesn’t want us to fully participate but he will eventually (patience)… or… (insert your own explanation). It seriously leaves me jealous, wondering how lovely it must be to be a male in the church where none of these concerns about your eternal value are hinged on your gender, and what you can/can’t do.

  21. As an adult, I learned of the historical legacy of women giving blessings, but my lived experience growing up was seeing my mother having her temple recommend revoked for having joined with her visiting teacher in giving my my younger brother a healing blessing when he was sick in the hospital. I would love a world in which I felt comfortable receiving and giving blessings, but that’s certainly not the Mormon world I grew up in.

  22. Blessings are dumb.

    Jesus didn’t pray over people and say, “get well soon buddy!” (but they never do). It should either be that the person is healed immediately on command, or don’t even bother. Anything else is just vain (in the sense of ineffectual) words and false spirituality. I honestly think it’s a bit embarrassing to the church that healing blessings supposedly draw upon the power of heaven itself – will full authority from God to do so – rarely, if ever, actually heal the person.

  23. I raised this topic in RS a few years ago during the Lorenzo Snow lesson about the priesthood. someone mentioned they knew a woman who had blessed someone in a car accident by virtue of her husbands priesthood… I have never seen it done. We have no family history of it. My parents were teenage converts in the 60s here in Britain. I guess my Dad never got the lesson Ardis mentioned. And the upshot of the RS lesson was that the following week we had the Bishop come in and read us the relevant part of the handbook forbidding it. So yeah… gutting.

  24. Long-time listener, first-time caller says:

    “Yeah there are a lot of permutations, like I said. Feel free to add in the comments what you think is missing.”

    Steve: The box I would have checked had it been available would say something like “I am comfortable blessing other women, with oil and laying on of hands, but only in the performing of temple ordinances in the temple.”

    I don’t know why I’m comfortable doing so in the temple but not doing anything like it outside of the temple. I’d like to see Elder Oaks explain that for me (since his talk describing how/why female ordinance workers are able to perform ordinances is what cause me to question why I can bless inside the temple but not out).

  25. *Oh, and the Bishop did so under instruction from the Stake presidency, he said.

  26. Wonderdog says:

    When I was bishop, I councilled a faithful single mother to lay hand on her children and pray that they be restored to health. I also told her that before the beginning o the school year, she could give them a mother’s blessing.

  27. Last Lemming says:

    we get the results of those polls every six months at conference.

    Are you assuming that 15 dudes constitutes a representative sample?

  28. How many guys are comfortable blessing people? I used to be, but now I need slightly different words to say at the beginning. The heartfelt inspired part I still feel comfortable with. I just don’t really swallow idea of the p-hood so I don’t feel right when I claim to act by virtue of it.

  29. Deborah Christensen says:

    I don’t have kids so I’ve never had a real life opportunity; only theoretical. I put down prayers only since I haven’t received any instructions from the Spirit or SLC. The exception would be while in the temple. I do know a few women who were instructed by the Spirit, in emergency situations, to put their hands on their child’s head. But they both declined and just said a prayer due to fear that they were doing the wrong action since that is what they were taught. I personally would like some official instructions on what is correct. I know about women blessing other people up until the end of WWII so it exists and it’s appropriate in the Gospel. I just want instructions from SLC so I don’t get in trouble and have to deal with being called in to the Bishop’s office since people have been incorrectly disciplined.

  30. Like Ardis, my thoughts are influenced greatly by individual experience. I had a visiting teachee who I was visiting in the hospital, and she asked me to pray for her. She said that she had a zillion priesthood blessings but wanted a prayer from a woman. I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed. Talk about pressure.

    A month or so later in a different hospital, my husband was with me when I closed the visit our visit to her by saying a similar prayer. On the way out, I discussed with my husband if he felt upstaged or whatever, and he said no, that it was nice and fine as long as I did not to claim a priesthood office.

  31. I am comfortable blessing loved ones invoking my faith in Jesus Christ. Since I am an ordinance worker, I only use priesthood authority in the temple and have chosen to reserve putting my hands on a person’s head for that setting. But hands on shoulders, knee, hands – whatever, just to make a physical connection is comfortable to me on the rare occasions when I give or participate in blessings. While Joseph Smith’s comment that “there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water” is not phrased as the ringing endorsement I might wish for, he also added, “If the sisters have the faith to heal, let all hold their tongues.” One of my most sacred memories is when my first grandchild was a few months old. My daughter was nursing prior to the the baby’s going to sleep for (some portion of) the night and we all (my husband, my son-in-law who isn’t LDS, my youngest son and I) seized the occasion of the baby’s tranquility to surround her in the darkened room, touch her and one by one – through our faith and through the priesthood (for my son and husband’s turns) invoke blessings on her. It was holy and intimate to have that baby girl blessed by loving family – including (M)others.

  32. Thank you for doing this poll, and enabling this sharing. It is appreciated and, I believe at least, very important.

  33. Reflecting on Linda’s comment (10:20 am), I remember naming and blessing each of our three children. My experience was that my role or status as father felt primary and important, with priesthood quite secondary. Secondary as in right and proper but more like playing a part than of central or essential importance. (I don’t offer any doctrine or rationalization, but just the experience.)

  34. I chose number one, even though I have at another time been inspired to give my child a blessing and I did. It was very needed and power was in it to calm that storm and I was grateful.
    The reason I chose one, is that I don’t LIKE that I was inspired to give my child a blessing, which is the symbol of God and the church’s rejection of me and all the girls, as full people. I don’t like that my child saw me (and the memory is very clear and this child is now 18 and still talks about this event when he was 2) do something that participates -just by recognition of the act- in what is today and has been my whole life THE number one way that women are less-than.

  35. talynkevin says:

    I answered that I’m not comfortable with anything beyond prayers in spite of the fact that personal revelation informed me that I have been given the gift of healing, and I have used that gift on more than one occasion. I have been prompted by the spirit to use that gift while placing my hands on my children (but not their heads), which I have done but didn’t feel comfortable with. I have also been given words to say that sounded to me as I said them like a priesthood ordinance, but they didn’t invoke priesthood authority in the way a male priesthood holder does. I absolutely feel that the promptings I received were real and from God, but I didn’t feel comfortable with them, and I’m not going to tell anyone about what I did without the cloak of anonymity anytime soon.

  36. talynkevin says:

    And suddenly my inability to use technology properly robbed me of my anonymity.

  37. eponymous says:

    Several have made the comment that they question whether there is any difference between the prayer of faith and the evocation of the priesthood with anointing of oil. I’ll confess, as a priesthood holder, I ask the same question. I’ve seen the power of spoken, faithful prayer change someone’s life/health as much as the power of a priesthood blessing properly performed. What else does the story of of Amanda Smith at Haun’s Mill teach us if not that God responds to prayer with healing? I don’t raise this question to diminish the question of whether women should perform blessings or whether they should hold the priesthood but more to consider what exactly is the difference between acting in the name of Jesus Christ with the Priesthood to bless someone who is ill and invoking the name of Jesus Christ in faithful prayer for the same purpose? Has anyone covered this question at BCC? Because either my Google-fu is weak or this isn’t a question that’s been previously explored.

    We look upon James 5 as providing the direction, in fact it is cited in the Church’s new article on Joseph Smith’s, Women and the Priesthood that generated this discussion. But what does James say?

    14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

    15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

    16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

    I’m not a Greek scholar so I’ll ask the question, is there a difference in the words that are used for “prayer of faith” in verse 15 and “effectual fervent prayer” in verse sixteen?

    Yes, Elder Oaks offered a fairly precise treatise on the concept of blessing the sick and how the priesthood, faith and the will of the Lord interact. But is there any difference between faith-filled prayer and a priesthood administration other than the possibility that a priesthood bearer if they were sufficiently in-tune, and Elder Oaks discounts that this may often not be the case, could speak the will of the Lord while a prayer is a petition?

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    “the prayer of faith” in v. 15 is hE euchE tEs pisteOs, which does indeed mean “the prayer of faith” (euchE can also refer to a religious vow).

    “the effectual fervent prayer” in v. 16 is deEsis . . . energoumenE. The connotation of deEsis is a seeking, asking, supplication, entreaty; of humans to God, this would be in the form of prayer. The “effectual fervent” is a rendering of a participle of the verb energeO “to be operative, to be at work, to put forth power” (source of English “energy”). The connotation is “the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its working.”

    (Note that in the early church “elders” is not a priesthood office. Ascription of priesthood to such positions occurs only over time as the Church moves away from being a Jewish sect [in which “priesthood” would be limited to levites and priests in temple administration] to being predominantly a Greco-Roman institution.)

  39. I’ve seldom really put my hands on a child’s head. Mostly because when I’m blessing them they have been sick and are in my arms. It doesn’t make sense to me to take my arms from around them and put them just on their head. I have rested my hands on their heads when they are a little bigger and have their heads in my lap. I have invoked the power given to me in the endowment, and figured God can call that what He wants. I’ve most often invoked faith and the power of God.

  40. I voted for “I’m not comfortable in any religious performance beyond prayers.” I mean that I myself don’t feel comfortable performing anything beyond prayers. I love having a woman anointing and blessing me in the temple and I would love to receive a blessing from a woman outside of the temple. I have been prompted to offer a healing blessing many times but am too afraid to act for fear of losing my temple recommend and or membership.

  41. Being a “dude” I did not answer your poll. When I first heard of women giving blessings I thought it was wrong and against the order of the priesthood (whatever that means). I now believe that was the result of being thoroughly trained in patriarchy. Logically, I see nothing wrong or against church teachings for women to lay on hands and give blessings with oil or whatever. I think one could argue that women should not claim priesthood authority (as it hasn’t been conferred upon them) although I personally wouldn’t object. As scriptural one could argue that Alma in the book of Mormon performed baptisms once he felt he had mandate to do so, without being ordained as he had no one available to ordain him. It still feels funny to me, but logically I see nothing wrong with it other than cultural bias.

    Now I’m going to take off my believer hat for a minute. If I put on a doubter’s hat and think, like Eso, that blessings are dumb, I can still consider the placebo effect, which is that the belief (or faith) of the person receiving the blessing can cause an actual physiological change, and all the rituals (prayer, laying on hands, oil, etc.) are a means to bring about a change caused by the belief of the person receiving the blessing, than the thing that really matters is what that person wants and believes.

  42. For the past two years, my husband and I both placed our hands on our children’s heads and gave them their back to school blessings. I have also blessed them at times when I have been particularily worried about them. I can only imagine what they say in their primary classes.

  43. I had a strongly visceral reaction to 8 (women only), so I picked it. I’d add that I would only be comfortable blessing women, plus children and animals. My response feels very personal and somewhat sad. It feels like the direct response to being raised in a culture / situation that places men above women and even though logically I am past that, clearly emotionally I am not.

  44. Anon for this says:

    I am, under most circumstances, a traditional, conservative Mormon. I have ZERO interest in being ordained to the priesthood. That being said, women being denied the privilege of blessing the sick enrages me. As the descendent of a gifted, extremely busy, pioneer midwife who worked in the earliest settlements of Southern Utah, I am quite certain this is something she would have known and perhaps practiced as she attended to her patients.

    I am the mother of a young adult daughter with neurological autoimmune disease; I have given up any post-child rearing pursuits to be her full-time caregiver. One late night several weeks back, she had a particularly rough go. We had travelled from our home, many hundreds of miles away, to visit her sub-specialized neurologist. We were staying with a family member whose husband and extended family were out of town. As my daughter sobbed–her body wracked with the misery and pain of a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system–I realized I had no one to call on for a priesthood blessing. I knew I could pray with faith and plead for comfort on behalf of my daughter–but I was not “allowed” to anoint her or lay my hands on her and offer a formal blessing. And in my rational brain, I knew that a prayer of faith, offered with a whole heart, was a worthy offering to God and that my daughter wouldn’t be denied any blessings because I wasn’t a priesthood holder. But in my mother’s heart, I was angry that I was denied the privilege that my pioneer foremothers had claimed. I held my daughter in my arms and pleaded for mercy because it was the offering I had to give.

    We are supposed to look to the past for inspiration–faith in every footstep and all that. My ancestresses survived the Martin handcart company and the Muddy River mission and giving birth on the Great Plains. I want to claim the right they had to bless the sick. Until someone can give me a better explanation than it was discontinued and that privilege assigned to the priesthood, I’m going to be in a bit of a rage. “Because we said so” doesn’t work as an explanation for me anymore. Give me WHY and a theologically rational and compassionate explanation and my rage might dim to simmering fury. So I voted for “blessing when a male family member isn’t available.”

  45. Long-time listener, first-time caller says:

    This was powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  46. Yep. Thanks, Anon for this.

  47. “We are supposed to look to the past for inspiration–faith in every footstep and all that. My ancestresses survived the Martin handcart company and the Muddy River mission and giving birth on the Great Plains. I want to claim the right they had to bless the sick. Until someone can give me a better explanation than it was discontinued and that privilege assigned to the priesthood, I’m going to be in a bit of a rage. ‘Because we said so’ doesn’t work as an explanation for me anymore. Give me WHY and a theologically rational and compassionate explanation and my rage might dim to simmering fury.”

    This is why we need the General Women’s leaders to respond and to explain. But I’m truly afraid that they won’t because they can’t.

  48. also anonymous this time says:

    Last night at around midnight a rather high-maintenance sister in my ward called wanting me to come take her to the emergency room and then stay with her sleeping children. Though I felt bad that she was in pain, I was annoyed at yet another in a series of needs that have been increasingly burdensome on my time and energy. I am not her visiting teacher, I’m just the only person who will answer her calls at this point. As I made the half-hour drive to her house (because of course she lives on the other side of the ward from me) and then sat up until 3 am waiting for the hospital to release her, it struck me that if I were a priesthood holder or in a position to give a blessing of healing, she would probably expect that from me too. Honestly, at that hour of the night and in light of her frequent demands of me, I’m not sure how effective my faith and compassion would have been in overcoming my annoyance. That realization brought me up short and I felt a little ashamed but also a little relieved that I wouldn’t be faced with the prospect of having to fake it. I remember being taught as a youth (or hearing, I guess, since the teaching wasn’t directed at me) that men who hold the priesthood must always keep themselves in a state of worthy readiness because they might be called upon to administer to someone at any moment. I suppose I never thought about how that teaching might apply to me.

  49. @also anonymous, you don’t have to be in a good mood or like a person to give a good blessing of heeling. Everything after the sealing of the anointing in the name of Christ by the authority of the priesthood is fluff.

  50. Fluff?

  51. also anonymous this time says:

    I don’t know Owen, I think attitude has a lot to do with how an administration is given. Speaking from both positive and negative experience, it certainly seems to have a lot to do with how it is received. Also speaking from experience, the “fluff” can be the most important part if the person giving the blessing is receiving knowledge from the Spirit that the recipient needs to hear but perhaps couldn’t on his or her own.

  52. On my mission, we had a landlady for a time who was a spiritual giant in her own right. When her sister fell ill and was hospitalized, this sister went to the hospital and gave her sister a blessing. Me, being an Idaho idiot, tried to tell her she wasn’t allowed to do that on account of she didn’t hold the priesthood. She just smiled and said, “Well, elders, I borrowed some of yours.”

    This was a lady famous for waking up the Elders in the morning and telling them, “You’re going to go tracting at this address today at 2 PM, and you’re going to say ‘We’re here in answer to your prayers. Give us the gun.'” When she passes, she’s going to brew up a kettle of peppermint sweet tea, share a cup with Jesus, and pick up the conversation where she left off. If I was sick and she was around, I’d have no qualms about asking her to administer to me.

  53. Cf the Oaks talk in April 2010 Priesthood Session.

    “Fortunately, the words spoken in a healing blessing are not essential to its healing effect. If faith [the faith of the one receiving the blessing, not the administrator] is sufficient and if the Lord wills it, the afflicted person will be healed or blessed whether the officiator speaks those words [anything in addition to the sealing of the annointing] or not…The words spoken in a healing blessing can edify and energize the faith of those who hear them, but the effect of the blessing is dependent upon faith and the Lord’s will, not upon the words spoken by the elder who officiated.”

    Words that have no effect on the power of the blessing seem like the definition of fluff, especially since they are so often a vehicle for conveying false doctrine, personal opinions, and pablum. Priesthood authority is not necessary for “saying words that edify and energize”.

  54. eponymous says:

    I think Owen misunderstood Elder Oaks’ statement concerning what is essential in a priesthood blessing for healing. While he did say that the words of the blessing are not essential for the healing, there was also that whole middle paragraph where he stated:

    Ideally, the elder who officiates will be so in tune with the Spirit of the Lord that he will know and declare the will of the Lord in the words of the blessing. Brigham Young taught priesthood holders, “It is your privilege and duty to live so that you know when the word of the Lord is spoken to you and when the mind of the Lord is revealed to you.” When that happens, the spoken blessing is fulfilled literally and miraculously. On some choice occasions I have experienced that certainty of inspiration in a healing blessing and have known that what I was saying was the will of the Lord.

    That is what we should aspire to even if we’re not always so in tune with the Spirit that we achieve such an outcome.

  55. I’ve appreciated the conversation about how blessings work, and maybe there’s a time to have that conversation separately, but this thread is decidedly not for the purpose of a bunch of guys arguing over what goes into their blessings. So let’s stop it.

  56. I’m sort of curious about the whole lay hands on another sister aspect. I thought they changed the temple initiatory because so many sisters complained about being touched by other sisters. Now, we have sisters saying they like receiving and giving the laying on of hands in sundry places (head, shoulders, hands, arms, the area in pain, etc.) I know it’s not the equivalent of the initiatory, but still, it seems pretty close. Has the idea of associating “touching” with healing come full circle? Or, is it that those giving/receiving blessings are familiar with one another, and that makes the difference?

  57. ” I thought they changed the temple initiatory because so many sisters complained about being touched by other sisters. ”

    No, it was because so many sisters complained about being touched by other sisters in uncomfortable places.

  58. ^^And men too, from my understanding and while I don’t know the breakdown, I would imagine it was more sisters who were uncomfortable.

  59. I am saddened to read so many comments from sisters saying their vote for the first choice was influenced by a fear of administrative consequences.

  60. cahkaylahlee says:

    I’ve had a non-member friend and her daughters over for lunch with my daughters. They were comfortable letting me say a prayer before the meal, but they also said that at their church they hold hands in a circle during a prayer, so we did that. My girls really liked that, and for a while we often held hands as a family during prayers over a meal, and sometimes for other family prayers as well. I rather liked it, but haven’t insisted on continuing it after my girl’s enthusiasm for it waned.

    I’m currently serving as a Relief Society president. Last time we prayed about sisters to recommend for callings, we knelt together. I thought about asking if we could hold hands, but I didn’t. I wish I did, and I think I will next time. I suppose it would be an all female prayer circle of sorts, and a powerful symbol of unity.

    To bring this around to the topic at hand: I think touch is powerful. I think it can change our emotions and perceptions of events, even if the same words are said.

  61. I don’t know how solid the basis is for this opinion, but I’ve long thought that one of the reasons for using the priesthood instead of relying on the gift of healing is that we all don’t have the gift of healing. The priesthood makes up for that deficit. I see them as complementary to each other.

  62. cahkaylahlee, I’ve known a lot of Mormon families who hold hands while having prayers for meals, family prayers, etc. So many that, until I was well into my 20s, I suspected that my own family was doing something sort of non-standard by not holding hands.

  63. Long-time listener, first-time caller says:

    CS Eric: That’s an interesting thought.

    Mark (at 11:39 am): That basically summarizes women’s relationship with the Church right now. So much of women’s issues in the Church, in my view, comes down to that.

  64. I was thinking about this last week as I dithered about whether or not to tell my class about healing in my lesson about the history of Relief Society. I ultimately decided not to say anything because even though the new essay had been released, I couldn’t bear to repeat the justification that it is simply not done anymore.

    My answer to the poll would be I’m comfortable with women giving blessings in any way they feel moved to do. Every time I have read accounts of women healing, historically or in comment threads like this, it feels right and beautiful to me. Recently, I witnessed women giving a child a blessing–the first time in my life is ever seen anything like it–and I found it lovely and spiritual. However, I don’t think I could give a blessing of real faith anymore. My faith crisis has done a number on my belief that God likes me or women in general all that much. It’s kind of a funny place to be. I want so much to see women reclaim this lost heritage, but at the same time, I haven’t even been able to pray much for the past several years, so it feels like a thing that I could not claim myself, at least not for many years.

    My exceptions would be that I think I would feel comfortable blessing my child if there was no one else around to witness it. And I think I would be okay blessing a close friend who understands my limitations and requested it anyway.

    Thanks all, I loved reading your stories.

  65. I grow more and more comfortable with the idea of women giving healing blessing. Not that it’s part of my spiritual practice but I ache for it to be. The concept is something that I relished and resonated with me as a child in primary and Sunday school classes when it was mentioned as an exceptional experience from our pioneer past. We are stifling the power and presence of God in our lives by stopping the mouths of our sisters to call upon the power of Christ in times of need as the Spirit directs them. I pray that in my life time institutionally women’s may tongues be loosed again for the blessing of the saints.

  66. I figure that priesthood keys are for church, not my home. If a 12 year old boy has to hold an office to carry the fast offering money around the neighborhood for a few hours, then what kind of office do I hold for having God’s permission to carry a human being inside me for 9 months? Office of Mother, that’s what. I figure that the blessing of my children is not the church’s business. Keys and Authority bind the church and its male leaders to stay within the bounds the Lord has set, and from what have read in the scriptures,, the Lord has not indicated that priesthood keys and church authority govern and direct moms in the Office of Mother.

    Leggo my eggo.

  67. I love that line. You have the power, SisterZ.

  68. And one more thing since I am already fired up at bedtime… Just because male leaders have crossed over a bound the Lord has set regarding church keys and office, infringed upon women in this manner, and have taken away our historical practice of female healing blessings does NOT negate the fact that their encroachment is unauthorized by God.

  69. Carolyn McDonald says:

    If/ when i would/ have invoke(d) the Priesthood to bless someone, it is the priesthood of Jesus Christ I call(ed) upon. I would invoke His power to heal/comfort/ calm my loved one, family or otherwise. Whether or not my connection to Him is “ordained” per se, my faith in His power is what brings it forth to heal. I would call/ have called upon -verbally- the power of the covenants I made with Him in the Temple.
    I was once the first to arrive at the scene of a terrible rollover where a person was ejected, barely breathing and her face torn away. I knelt beside her on the road, praying for her peace and comfort, invoking the presence of Jesus Christ. I instinctively put my hands on her shoulder and arm. I felt at once helpless because her injuries were so overwhelming, and helpful for directing her thoughts to the Savior whom it seemed quite clear she would meet very shortly. Did that constitute laying on of hands? Would a Priesthood blessing have offered her any more than that? Perhaps I don’t put enough confidence in the blessing ordinance. I surely have a lot of room to grow.
    I feel indifferent to silly men who think they can negate temple covenants of a woman for praying with faith over my troubled child. The power to infringe upon my connection to God does not exist.
    Why can women perform sacred ordinances in the temple, but not outside of it? My opinion is that the temple is a veil of protection between women and the powers of darkness. If you want to know who really hates women, it’s not our brothers on earth (okay, maybe some of them); it’s he who shall not be named. In the temple I can be safe from his prying.
    Is this way too long? Because there’s one more thing…I thought the reason they shortened the initiatory is because it was too long… so much work to be done, not enough workers…. Maybe I’m under-thinking it.

  70. I have experienced an occasion where my prayer of faith resulted in the soothing and healing of my sick brother. And I have officiated in the laying on of hands in temple ordinances. My take from those experiences: I don’t care who does what or whether hands are placed on head or shoulders or simply folded or whatever as long as someone is there to do what the Holy Spirit guides and what the Lord knows will be helpful then. Sometimes that is me. Sometimes that is someone else. When I am called upon to do so, directly by the Spirit (prayer of faith) or indirectly (temple worker), I am honored to do so and grateful that I am able, and it can be a sacred experience and personal experience. I don’t talk much about either of those blessing venues simply because they are sacred and personal to me. And similarly, neither does my husband when he is called upon to bless.
    I think we can get wrapped up so much in the “who does what” and “what so-and-so might think or do or say about it” that we get anxious and worried. David O. McKay once said that worry is one of the things that makes it hard to feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit on how to proceed in a situation. I believe that.

  71. Eve of Destruction says:

    I interpreted the question to mean what I personally feel comfortable doing, which is nothing beyond prayers. This is a personality thing, where I find it very difficult to break rules even when I think the rules are wrong. But it thrills me to know that other women, ancient and modern, give blessings. To me, this is kind of like, I have zero desire to be an astronaut or a Supreme Court Justice or an Olympic medalist, et cetera, but it means so much to me that other women do these things.

  72. Eve, yes that was what I was trying to find out. Thanks.