On Friday last week I lost my voice. Usually this would make people happy but the following 7 days would include two interviews on two continents and I would need my voice for both. I was anxious and so on Friday evening as I was putting my two daughters to bed I asked them to pray for me.
Amelie (my oldest) has a pretty good track-record with God and she offered me a sweet and sincere prayer asking that my voice would return. Then Jude (my youngest) wanted to pray for me as well. She asked me to sit on her bed as she stood up and put her hands on my head. “When I am sick, Daddy,” she said to me “you do this for me and so I am going to do it for you”. And she blessed me. After Jude finished her blessing, Amelie sat up in bed and said “I wanted to do that too but did not think I was allowed. Can I give you a blessing too, Daddy?” I went and sat on her bed and received another blessing for my sore throat.
I kissed them goodnight and went downstairs, feeling a deep connection to God and my daughters.
A few minutes later my Mum (who was staying with us that weekend) came downstairs. She had gone to say goodnight and the girls had told her about giving me blessings. Yet, now Amelie added this caveat: “I do not know whether it will work because I do not have the Priesthood”.
Amelie has just turned 8 and Jude will be 6 in a few weeks.
Jude’s intuitive response to the problem of sickness was to emulate the blessings she had received from me. It was Amelie’s too. But Amelie had learned – somewhere between the age of 5 and 8 – that laying hands on the sick was off limits to her and that even should she bless the sick in this way it would be less efficacious because she does not (will not ever) have the priesthood.
I do not pretend to know God’s will on these matters but it seems a rather grave thing (perhaps even a sin) to teach someone that they are less than they really are. If we are incorrect about the capacity of women to bless and heal then we are systematically cutting them off from certain powers and opportunities; and we have been doing for this generations. May God forgive us if we are wrong.