A Short Thought on a Dream: Or, Women and the Priesthood

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 6.55.58 AMIf gender is eternal—and we are told by our prophets and revelators in no uncertain terms that it is—if women are to preside at the side of our brothers in the eternal act of creation, and if neither can be exalted or progress without the other, then it stands to reason that there must be an equally powerful mechanism through which women will exercise that promised and divine power.

As a people, we are told we cannot live on borrowed light, and our current narrative and doctrine has women doing exactly that for eternity—living on the borrowed light of the priesthood of men. As a means of apologetics for this discrepancy we intuitively see but do not quite understand, women are told we “have access” to the priesthood of Aaron and Melchizedek, but it’s not ours.

I have never been drawn to the priesthood of men; it has never felt like it belonged to me. I have been baffled and hurt by the lack of representation of my own soul’s progression. I do not want to wear my brother’s robes, which are ill-fitted to me, not tailored to my shoulders by a God who loves me. What I want is the other half of the story. If women are to progress, if gender is eternal, and if we are all to grow towards God together and promises of the temple are real, then there is no other answer than that the preistesshood of Eve, Deborah, Rebekah, Esther, Naomi, Miriam, Mary, and Ruth has not yet been revealed, and is not yet on the earth.

We are the religion of the restoration of all things. We are assured that all has not yet been revealed, but someday will be. I do not know how or when or through which prophet this might happen, but I know the first step is having the faith to ask of my God.

It is for this purpose that I come to the Lord, and pray for further light and knowledge.


  1. May your prayer receive an answer.

  2. I have received an answer, and it may only be to whisper peace to this daughter’s soul, but that answer is that this is true. It *must* be true, if there is weight or spiritual truth to any of the restoration, and for me to stand before God and all the promises of my heavenly parents; the power and priestesshood of the women is still veiled, but it is real.

  3. We believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things.

  4. This is my deepest longing as well — to discover the depths of divine powers of women.

  5. Yes, this has been my response to Ordain Women all along. I don’t want the priesthood. I want my priestesshood in this life. What does that look like? Who is my role model? I think it is a righteous desire. The sisters have been patiently waiting.

  6. Bro. Jones says:

    Your brother also longs for you to receive this answer. We cannot truly build the kingdom without this light and knowledge: God’s army has not equipped half of its soldiers for the effort, and you were not made only to be referred to passively on a banner of liberty.

  7. The term “priestesshood” brings up a very important point, namely that the Mormon definition of priesthood as authority is a historical and linguistic anomaly. Priesthood, historically and linguistically (even in the Book of Mormon), means simply the condition or state of being a priest. The modern Mormon definition creates significant problems, which are too numerous to go into here, but it is easy to argue for a “priestesshood” if we have a “priesthood.” The temple endowment speaks of priestesses. Where are they? Only in the hereafter? Why?

  8. Amen and amen. Now if we could just figure out how to convince more people that the hole exists, when we keep hearing that we’ve been given the “fullness”.

  9. wreddyornot says:

    We’ve been given the foolness. This (the “dream” of a greater degree of equality) is part of what to me always seems so foundational. I’m still sorting through notions of a fallen world and the temporality of survival of the fittest, which is so apparent also in the history of humankind over against its progress and vision of the restoration of all things. Men have ruled and reigned and continue to, not because it’s holy but because it comes so naturally. Of course a dichotomy it ain’t, even if that notion seems to predominate.

  10. “and our current narrative and doctrine has women doing exactly that for eternity”

    It does? Are you sure? I thought the current doctrine was “we don’t know how it’s going to work”.

  11. Women and men have equal access to the gift of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit. This is where I focus my attention. As a long time member of the church this approach has yielded many wonderful blessings to me and my family.

  12. Jk, that’s wonderful for you. I am always happy when I see good members who aren’t plagued by the things that I’ve experienced, and I’m hesitant to cast a pall over their peaceful journey. Too bad I can’t just ignore the problems in my journey, but my experience is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it, nor should you.

    The solid logic in the OP isn’t something I can deny. I used to be reluctant about women being ordained, until I learned the history of the Relief Society giving healing blessings in the church, and how that authority was slowly and painstakingly revoked, and then all knowledge of it erased from our experience. It’s a tragic waste to deny women to develop and use the gifts they have, given them by God. That tragic waste is my experience.

    Still, I have a germ of hope that someday the all-male authorities will come to see this as a specific part of the gospel that Joseph Smith restored when he organized the Relief Society as an ordained quorum.

  13. I think waiting on the men (and women) who support power discrepancies to come around only perpetuates it. It’s like being chained up and having the key to freedom, but deciding (sometimes unconsciously and other times consciously) to cast it at the feet of others and then begging them to set us free. The more I believe in my own worth, the less I feel the need to rely on the arm of flesh–I’m done with believing women are inferior or that they even need to endlessly wait to finally be granted “their share.”

  14. Lord, hear our prayer.

  15. justaquestion/thought says:

    Is the priesthood a thing or a power? Like a current or a wave can you can answer yes to both? Is it a principle or an object?

    God’s oath (sworn statement of fact) is that if you will earnestly search for servants you will eventually be lead to Christ, who will lead you to home. He seems to be saying this is just the way things are, I promise, this is they way things work, this is the governing current of my kingdom.

    Everyone is a priesthood (understood as a principle or power) leader when they contribute to the correct flow toward home as true servants.

    Can any thing/object save anyone? Principles seem to sanctify/elevate and power/energy is what you need if you are to overcome death.

  16. Tracy M: You write so beautifully that I’m tempted to be persuaded by the aesthetic. And sufficiently in first person that it’s almost impossible to disagree directly. If it works for you . . . and all that.

    But for myself (only):
    >I don’t believe and don’t accept that “gender is eternal.” Not the way that phrase is used. I can make up meaning, but I suspect most Mormons wouldn’t recognize my version. So I don’t share the first premise and we’re cross-footed from the start.
    >I am excited about a restoration of all things, but once again I use those words in a nuanced way.
    >And with respect to priesthood, I think Joseph set things going in a good direction. I appreciate speaking of Priests and Priestesses. Which leads me to think that we need recognition more than restoration, on this issue at least.
    >I believe we are living in an segment of time, an era, when male priesthood holders have exercised discretion/agency/power to suppress women in the receipt and exercise of priesthood, for the intended benefit of encouraging and enhancing the role of men. I don’t know how long this era will last, but I sugggest that the end will look like a release of restrictions more than the addition or restoration of something that scans as new.

  17. I dont disagree, christiankimball. I purposefully kept this post short and without exposition on nuance I both see and feel, to make the point that we are, indeed, missing something important.

  18. In looking at the earliest Christians, it does appear that women held the same priesthood as the men. Then as the church was “Romanized” into a culture where women had even less rights than the women of Jesus’s culture, that priesthood was limited to men only. So, I suspect that is the best place to look for a model.

    Of course, some of the “priestesses” in the early Old Testament were the priestesses of the pagan fertility goddess, who worshipped by having sex. (There is a story of a widow by the name of Tamar whose father in law won’t marry her to the brothers of her late husband, so she pretends to be a priestess to trick her father in law into having sex with her) I don’t want THAT priestesshood. But there are other women in the OT that are described as being prophetesses or priestesses, who seem to be righteous, as in accepted by the followers of the God of Abraham. So, possibly priestesses of the goddess Ashera who was said to be the wife of Heavenly Father.

    So, historically, there are a couple of possibilities of a priesthood for women, either priestesses of Heavenly Mother, or holding the same priesthood as men.

  19. Generally speaking, I do not feel qualified to comment. But I have found the J. Stapely’s chapter on Priesthood Ordination in “The Power of Godliness – Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology” and what he calls “cosmological priesthood”, as opposed to ecclesiastical priesthood, in the early LDS church potentially relevant, including his comments there on “Women and the Priesthood.” One might even see a movement toward recognizing a priesthood of women in the current church which would be different from the ecclesiastical priesthood of men, but also powerful. I’ll have to let someone more qualified than I relate such history to the current desire expressed by the OP and others.

  20. Your Average Mormon says:

    Thank you. The same thoughts I’ve had for a long time. I’m saving this (along with many other things) for when my daughters grow older. I pray for more answers, more understanding. I don’t want the priesthood, I want the priestesshood. I want authority God has given specifically to women. It will be complementary to the priesthood, because we are helpmeets. It won’t be the same, but why is it? And when will we see it?

  21. I love this. I support Ordain Women but I think what you have written points to a deeper truth. It feels good to read it, thank you.

  22. I’m not sure, but I worry that a “separate but equal” priestesshood would not, in fact, be very equal, and would just perpetuate more sexist notions.

  23. Anonymous – that gets us into a discussion on gender theory. I cannot speak for those who believe in a gender spectrum, but as someone who believes in the gender binary it can be argued that men and women are created as “separate but equal”. Physical differences exist, but those differences are few compared to the number of attributes that are the same. It’s culture that has maintained a patriarchal treatment of the genders, placing one above the other.

    It’s certainly a valid concern, one that we should be very aware of when it comes. Should we get Priestesshood to help us overcome our sexist notions, or would our sexist notions simply drown what Priestesshood we’d get? I can only have faith in our HM, that she has some plan well beyond my perspective. I wish I knew what has constrained Prophetesses from coming forth to help inspire us to take this next, necessary step.

  24. I feel this is true in my soul. We only have half the answer, half the restoration. One day, the prayers of righteous women will be answered.

  25. I am personally agnostic on the priesthood, whatever it is (that phrase alone explains why I’m agnostic, I guess), but I think if we’re to take seriously the church’s proposition that men and women can be exalted only together, there must be a “priestesshood” such as you describe.

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