In the name of full disclosure and in order to clarify my agenda, if any, note I tend to agree with Ralph Hancock a great deal of the time and to disagree with Joanna Brooks about as often. In addition, even before I began blogging in 2003, I wrote for Meridian Magazine. (I was one of the original three in the “Circle of Sisters.”)
In his recent, two-part review of Joanna Brooks’ The Book of Mormon Girl, Ralph Hancock responds to Brooks’ negative response toward gender differentiation in the church.
While I believe it minimizes this differentiation—with women being excluded from holding the much-touted, much-taught “eternal power and authority of God”—by calling it merely “role differentiation,” Hancock made a particular statement that has continued to run through my mind.
Those who are not simply content with accepting the Church’s authority on such matters might thus consider the possibility that Priesthood responsibilities and rites of passage serve purposes particularly appropriate to the making of boys into men and to the effective and wholesome definition of manhood…It may be, that is, that, on the whole, women are more immediately or naturally in touch with the meaning of their womanhood than men are with their manhood, and thus that boys need certain social structures and incentives that differentiate them from girls and women.
Assuming that his claim that there actually is an authoritative reason for this “other priesthood ban” than tradition, the argument seems to look like this:
Brooks: Women should have the priesthood just as men do.
Hancock: No, the priesthood is important in developing men.
Either Hancock’s statement is a big red herring (that has succeeded in distracting people from the real issue), or Hancock actually thinks that excluding women, subordinating women, dominating women, or [fill in your own term] women, has something to do with the importance of the priesthood for men.
So, why does keeping women out make the priesthood awesome sauce for men?
If you disagree with my reading of this, please share why you disagree and other possible interpretations.
I can’t help but think your rationale, while good intentioned, is just as much folklore as the now rejected explanations for the racial ban. “If women had the priesthood, the men would have no reason to stay”. Sounds a lot like “blacks could not have the priesthood because whites were’nt ready”. “Women are more in touch with their nature and so don’t need it”. Sorry this is just the flip side of “blacks were less valiant in the pre-existence”. We do a great disservice to our women when we tell them “you are all so perfect already!”. Eve fell just as far as Adam. Women are just as petty, mean, selfish, sinful as men. It is a damning doctrine to suggest otherwise and thereby deny our women the opportunity to commune with the spirit (and with their fellow man) through priesthood ordinances.
What would be “awesome?” My wife joining with me in blessing our sick children. That would be awesome. My sister joining with her husband in blessing their newborn. That would be awesome. My deaconess daughter serving alongside my priest son. That would be awesome. In short, the whole body of Christ being unified through the joint participation in priesthood ordinances. “Being one with each other so we can be one with Him”. That would be awesome.
i’m with Dave. We’re telling women they don’t need the priesthood, because they are already awesome or perfect or something, and men need the priesthood because they are weak and dumb and need a lotta help. That’s just a terrible argument.
I also agree with Dave that it would totally be awesome for my wife to bless my child with me. It would be awesome for my daughter to pass the sacrament to me. There’s certainly nothing about her sexual organs that makes her incapable of holding a container of bread to pass to all the congregation. There’s also certainly nothing about her sexual organs that makes her incapable of being a leader if she is called of God to be one. But no woman will be called of God unless men stop thinking God only calls men as leaders.
I think you’re spot on. Ralph’s argument, which I’ve heard before, is essentially “that excluding women, subordinating women, dominating women, or [fill in your own term] women, has something to do with the importance of the priesthood for men.”
And that’s BS.
I agree with Dave K above, both about how it sounds like tomorrows “folklore”, and what also about what would TRULY be awesome–wish more people could catch that vision.
How do we explain the priesthood as gender-based considering how we humans develop? At the earliest moment of conception we all begin life as female and then something happens to make roughly fifty percent of us male ( a certain gene gets moved to a certain chromosome). Sometimes things go haywire and one of us is born with two sets of sex organs and we are made male or female by a surgeon, not by God. I don’t really care who has the priesthood, but I hate to see it used as something to keep women in their place whether they are uppity or not.
Some further thoughts. Hancock is right when he says the priesthood is important in developing men. The error is his conclusion that (i) priesthood is not important in developing women and (ii) women’s exercise of priesthood would somehow undercut men’s development.
From personal experience, I know that view is false. When I cook for my children, or change their diapers, or read them books, or do any other “traditionally motherly” act, those things strengthen my bond with my children, my wife and, most importantly, the Savior. They do not undercut my wife’s bonds with her children.
Likewise, when my wife prays in sacrament meeting, or gives a gospel doctrine lesson, or serves as a full-time missonary, or fulfills any other “traditionally priesthood” function (as defined by new testament and modern day leaders), those acts stengthen her bond with me, her children, our congregation, and most importantly the Savior. They do not undercut other member’s development.
I just cannot understand why some people think that women’s exercise of priesthood authority would undercut the men. Before my mission, my father gave me his “father’s blessing” as directed by the spirit. The blessing was recorded an sits alongside my mission call and patriarchal blessing as personal scripture. I long for the day when my mother can do the same. Such a blessing would be a bond between her, the Savior and me. It would in no wise undercut or diminish my father’s blessing.
Why are we so set on moving back to a day when priesthood was given only to a small group (the Levites)? Our’s is not the limited gospel handed down to Moses on Sinai, but the fullness of the gospel sent to the ends of the earth. It is true that God gives his authority to whom he chooses, but it equally true to he forces no man to heaven; he waits patiently on us to approach him and gives to all according to their righteous desires. As families and as a people, perhaps it is time that we approach the Lord with this righteous desire.
I really hate when anyone gives a reason for something we don’t have a particular answer for. I hate that Church members sought and defended concepts of curse of Cain to explain the priesthood ban for blacks. And I hate belittling men or women by giving such a reasoning for why women are more spiritual and therefore do not need the priesthood.
When the Lord decides to extend the priesthood to women, he will do it. The reasons behind it will probably stay a mystery as to exactly why there always will be the ban, or why the ban is lifted (if and when it is).
What I would like to see in the Church do now? Just as Pres MacKay and others lifted the ban off of some groups prior to the revelation, we can open up opportunities to serve and lead to sisters now. I like that the new Handbook encourages the shrinking power of the PEC, and the growing power of the Ward Council. There are many things a bishop can delegate, and hopefully would delegate much of those things to the sister presidents in a ward/stake.
I think we also need to look at the service of sisters in the temple, as well. In the temple, they do serve as priestesses. In the sealing, man and woman are united in the Patriarchal Priesthood, and so women do share in priesthood. If we were to study and search through the powers and blessings of the Patriarchal Priesthood, perhaps we would find many things in the role for women, now.
Given that early sisters were allowed and sometimes encouraged to give blessings of health, perhaps that could be reexamined by Church leadership as well.
During WWII, when many of the men were off to war, women helped out with things now reserved for the priesthood. For example, in Montgomery Alabama at the time, women helped pass the Sacrament (blessed by the few male priesthood around). Perhaps things like that could also be considered.
The Church is moving toward more power for women: that women used to not be able to give the opening/closing prayers in Sacrament but now can, shows that there is room for policy change.
As it is, I would hope that while we await the Lord’s final decision on this, we give to the wonderful sisters of the Church as much power and authority as we possibly can.
I, for one, would be very happy to let sisters be home teachers, and not just make a monthly phone call or mail a RS newsletter….
Let me just start out by saying I’m all in favour of complementarian ‘different but equal’ gender roles. I think, when such a lifestyle is possible, men should be the primary breadwinners and women the nurturers and homemakers. But I don’t see why this means men should be placed in positions of presidency and hierarchy over women, or why men should be considered ‘leaders and rulers’ while women are counseled to be ‘submissive’. In my opinion the church has done a great deal to emphasise different roles, but not enough to point out that these roles are equal, and hence a man should not be placed in a position of power and authority while women have no power to make decisions, both in the home (where her only hope lies in her husband consulting her before making the final decision himself)and in the church (where women are not permitted to hold the priesthood or have any real decision-making power, and are in all cases subject to male priesthood leadership).
Alison, you seem to be describing the present LDS position on priesthood as “excluding women, subordinating women, dominating women.” So is your beef with the Church (for holding this position that you ascribe to it) or with Ralph Hancock (for articulating a possible rationale for the position you ascribe to the Church)?
Personally, I disagree with your description of the LDS position and with your summary of Hancock’s commentary. Your discussion would make more sense if you just left Hancock’s commentary out of the picture and treated the issue directly. As it stands, by criticizing an attempt to give a rationale for only men holding the priesthood, you make it sound like you would be perfectly happy if no one discussed the topic. But it’s also clear that it is not discussion that bothers you but the policy itself. So my sense is that your discussion of Ralph Hancock is just a red herring.
Agree with a lot of what’s already been said, and I also take issue with Hancock’s implicit argument that there are idealized concepts of “womanhood” or “manhood” out there to be achieved (or maybe performed) through priesthood or nature. That just reinforces major tension in how we teach gender: that there is some kind of normative, eternal, and natural basis for certain gender roles which are simultaneously so precarious that they must be taught and reinforced (and, contra Hancock, women are subjected to this reinforcement as much, if not more, than men). So I find the gender assumptions that seem to undergird Hancocks’s arguments questionable.
Anyway, I agree that priesthood service and leadership certainly do a lot of good for many men, but I can’t think of a reason why it has to be a zero-sum gender game. You could argue that Relief Society is a legitimate female counterpart in terms of service and camaraderie, but priesthood is more than a boys club. It is a system of power and authority that by definition makes women subordinate – including the Relief Society. Whether the solution is giving women the priesthood or not, Hancock doesn’t come close to addressing the problem.
i know this distinction is beside your point, but just for the record, Brooks would not say “Women should have the priesthood just as men do.” that statement matches the calculated caricature of feminism which Hancock promotes, a feminism that obliterates gender.
Brooks would say, “Women should have the priesthood or something equal to it in power and responsibility.”
if women were allowed to risk becoming sons of perdition too, it wouldn’t seem nearly as bada**.
I’m going to take a contrarian position, but before you consign me to the dusty vaults of the teased and sprayed, helmet-headed protectors of “the way things are” – hear me out.
When I was young, raising 7 children, 5 under the age of 5, a good bishop with a little too loose a tongue told me that he had considered calling me as a seminary teacher, but I had too much on my plate already. I could have killed him, even though he was a dear friend. You see, my dear husband, who had been a member of this man’s bishopric, promptly went inactive when he was released, and I went to church and wrangled my kids alone. Still, I was like Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who once said that (no, not that great “well-behaved” one-liner) there was too much of her to fold into one relief society lesson a month. Rough paraphrase. How could he do that to me? Trump his own inspiration to call me to something that would have nourished my soul, given me a vital spiritual outlet, and a bit of an escape from a very harsh home life, all because he thought I couldn’t handle it? (I hope my eyebrows flying off my head is coming through in this poor text.)
A few months later our Stake, which was part of the new Oklahoma City Temple district, announced that people would be called as temple workers just for the trips down. I was ecstatic, because this possibly opened the door for me to serve as a temple worker even though I had small children. I met with the temple matron, and she kindly explained that, no, I would not be allowed to serve. I asked her why, when I would be coming down anyway. She said that that was just the way it was. I left her office choking back tears and hid in a stall in the dressing room, which was wise because she sent someone to look for me, calling up and down the rows while I lifted my feet and tried hard to be invisible while I sobbed.
So what did I do? I went home and I poured every bit of teaching the gospel into my children. Bishops didn’t have any trouble at all calling me to be primary presidents (3 times), YWP (3 times), and GD teacher (2 times) – but seminary teacher would have been too much.. So I taught my children.
I defend both my bishop’s and that matron’s decision. Why? Because God loved my children and he knew me pretty well. I would have spent far too much time crafting service for others when my children were sent to me to be served. As you priesthood leaders well know, if you do your job well, it’s danged time-consuming. What if both mom and dad are doing a job for the church well? Who’s teaching the children? Our first responsibility is for our children, and that’s a quantity AND quality enterprise.
Women are natural networkers and they will fill the calling to the nines. Even our cultural pokes at ourselves compare the way women and men teach lessons, and everyone laughs because it’s true. I want to gag when people “idealize women into nothing” (to borrow another Ulrich quote). I do, however, know the power I have because I spent a quarter century so keenly focused on children. I still have a lot of life left, but they only had that for their beginning.
What does this mean for women who have no children at home? I’ve thought a lot about that. We throw these women under the bus, truly, for the sake of the children. There are certainly things we should do about that. But I just don’t think having the priesthood would have changed the way I lived my life, the power I have, or the influence I exert. Much of who I am was made by my struggle through those years, because I’m one tough person. To the contrary, I think it would have been a distraction.
Well, there ya go. Mary and Martha and Eliza may be looking at me askance, but that’s what I think.
Thanks Bonnie. Your experiences do matter. I’m not sure we disagree, but if we do, I appreciate that we can without being contentious. My wife and I both come from large families and together we are presiding over our own large one (by modern standards). I very much value the time mothers have with children. Fathers too.
I can’t speak for others, but when I envision women holding the priesthood (or A priesthood or a priestESShood) I don’t envision calling mothers with young children into the bishopric. I’m mostly interested in getting the women into the ordinances. If a woman is already at the temple or already at her son’s baptism, how would it burden her to allow her to perform the ordinances? I can’t see it. Instead, I see a great blessing for her and her children by allowing her participation.
What would a women’s priesthood mean for the church organization? I leave that to the church. Again, I can’t see calling a woman with young children to be bishop. But maybe when she has raised her children she could be so called. That would make more sense than our current practice of calling the father with young children to be the bishop, even though his 70-hour job already keeps him away from them too much.
1. My mother was a secretary at the LDS church office building and told me this story. During the 1960’s President McKay became aware of a large group (perhaps tens of thousands) of Nigerians(?) who wanted to join the LDS church. The LDS church was established in white South Africa and that government threatened to kick us out if we started converting blacks. In the end the Nigerians turned out to be politically motivated more than spiritually motivated, so it never happened.
But for a few weeks President McKay contemplated (and wrote memos that were typed by secretaries) a hypothetical LDS church in Nigeria with no Priesthood. Only the most basic ordinances would be performed by visiting authorities with the Priesthood once a year or less such as mass baptisms and sacrament administrations. The auxillaries would all function without Priesthod on a week-by-week basis and would form the backbone of the church.
At that time the priesthood correlation controversy was raging between President David O. McKay a correlation minimalist and Elder Harold B. Lee a correlation enthusiast. The size, function and independence of the auxillaries from the Priesthood was at stake. Interestingly, my mother observed that the correlation minimalists were more open and inclined to extend the Priesthood to the Blacks years before the correlation enthusiasts. Each camp had their allies in church leadership going back decades and this Nigerian episode provided a new perspective for the waring parties to consider. Perhaps it might be useful again today as we contemplate new directions.
2. Most churches have a serious demographic problem. The ratio of adult women to adult men who are actively involved is high. Depending on the definitions and the churches observed it generally runs in the 3:1 or 4:1 range. In some churches it is 10:1
Although we also have a similar problem it is far less severe in my limited experience. It sounds as childish as little boys on the playground saying they won’t play marbles unless we play by their rules which exclude the girls from shooting first. Putting the men in charge and making the top callings only available to them might be the small price we pay to even get the men past the foyer doors. Not a happy thought for women, I agree.
Bonnie, thank you for that story. I think it’s good that people recognise that God is in control, He knows where we are most needed and where we can best serve, be served, learn and grow. I just think that men and women are equally capable of demonstrating outstanding qualities of leadership, wisdom and competency in positions of power, and I think it is wrong that women are completely denied any real voice or influence in the governing of the Church, as I think they are equally capable of receiving inspiration and divine guidance as to how the church should be run, and are equally capable of acting upon that inspiration. And if God knows that a person’s potential can best be reached by reciting the sacrament prayers, or laying their hands on a person’s head to deliver a divine message of comfort and peace, I don’t see why that person should be denied that opportunity to serve, learn and grow simply because of their gender.
Meldrum, I also believe we have less of a problem in keeping men engaged than do other churches. However, I do not think that is due to the gender restriction on the priesthood. Most other churches have similar restrictions. Instead, I believe the difference is due to our having a lay clergy, ingrained missionary program, and basically requiring more sacrifice of all members. None of these differences would be diminshed if we extended the priestood to women.
Our actions should be guided by faith and hope, not fear. Next time you’re in church, look around and ask yourself which of the men would go inactive if women were presiding on the stand and sitting in the deacon’s pew alongside their fellow brethren. I have yet to meet one.
stepping back a bit, Hancock’s folk rationalization would be preposterous even if the priesthood actually is more awesome for men by virtue of women’s exclusion.
what Hancock proposes would be equivalent to my boss promoting my co-worker to be my direct supervisor precisely because they lack the abilities that i already have. and then when my co-worker has, through experience, gained these skills and become more-or-less my equal, they are retained in the supervisor position over me — forever.
…even so, i take it as a sign of progress that men in the church today feel sufficiently embarassed and/or insecure about their monopoly on power and authority that they feel the need to justify it, and in a self-effacing way no less.
Meldrum, I love hearing stories like that. Your dinner conversation growing up must have been very interesting.
I agree with the very open-minded observations about giving women a greater role. The problem I see is that we, as a culture, have a fixation on visible leadership, a corporate mentality. The church, from its foundations, was much more democratic than that. I just don’t think who’s in charge is as important as how everyone is integrated and functioning together. I realize that’s a distinctly female perspective. I don’t think it’s a “the man is the head and woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants” (but the movie is pretty fun anyway.) I think the crux of leadership is Christlike – gentle nudges toward improved behaviors given to the genuinely interested, a firm calling-out when a doctrinal issue is at stake, service before pontification, love in everything. He wasn’t focused on a structure or a hierarchy, he was followed because he was worth following.
If anyone listens to me in GD, it’s because I’m worth listening to (which may seldom happen). Giving me the priesthood won’t change the cultural authority I have (how many high council talks can anyone remember?) It’s as important to learn to give support to someone as to receive support from others (even though our culture is viciously stamping that mentality out), and if my smile at the boys who pass me the sacrament helps them I’m on board, and if my example to girls helps them be supportive, I’m on board. By dividing according to gender, is one half of the church protecting the ideal that supporting people is good? Does someone have to be the Indians for us to raise good Chiefs?
I don’t know. I don’t really have a problem with the priesthood one way or the other. What I do have a problem with is denying the need to value followership.
By the way, have you heard this address shared by President Beck? I really enjoyed it.
Well, the most brilliant thing I’ve ever said just disappeared into cyberspace (don’t you hate it when that happens?) ;) I shouldn’t have added the HTML for a link. But it was a good one. Anyway, I think a lot of our problems with priesthood devolve to a false set of ideas about corporate leadership. Maybe the admins can remove the link to Pres. Beck’s talk and add my comment back into the fray.
Do you agree or disagree with affirmative action hiring and college admissions policies?
Its hard to discuss these things with folks who won’t admit that they are alive to the deep and endemic differences between men and women.
Dave K (#1):
I think you misread the post. Your quoted statement isn’t remotely MY rationale. Sincerely, I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion.
I observe, powerless as I am to actually change it, that my own three daughters have struggled with the notion that the Church won’t let them serve in the Aaronic Priesthood. They’re left to their own devices on how to construct opportunities for service, with a bit of guidance from the Young Women program and a lot of guidance from their own mother.
I don’t wish to elevate self-motivated service above authority-motivated service. Each has its practical applications and in my opinion neither is scripturally better.
That said, all three girls have certainly walked up to the opportunities the Church and our family scoped out for them.
Another data point: A relative of mine was just installed as Relief Society President in one of the wards in our stake. She and I have discussed the scope of that and her experience with the work it entails in great detail. I’ve concluded that there is significant priesthood authority in it, fundamentally no different than the day to day work of any Bishop, aside from the power-administrative components of a Melchizedek Priesthood leader.
Frankly, those components of MP leadership hold no appeal to me. Those are the chores of Church service, much the same as accounting for home teaching or the actual writing of welfare checks. I don’t have to be the one asking a congregation to raise their hands in support of someone’s calling, or announce that the next potluck is on the following Friday. I certainly don’t care to be the one making lists of people assigned to clean the meetinghouse on Saturday.
It’s possible that when the women in the Church vociferously deny that they’d ever want to have the mantle of Bishop or High Priest react that way, they’re thinking of that. They also don’t want to be Relief Society President. It’s worth noting that RS President also contains power-administrative chores.
That leaves the performance of the basic ordinances. I don’t know why. That’s what I told my daughters. “I don’t know why. I think it’s up to you to decide what to do about it. I don’t go to church because only the men can officiate in ordinances. I go for other reasons; what reasons do you have?”
It’s an imperfect Church. It’s less imperfect than any other I’ve examined, free of many of the huge problems facing world religions, and I love the people in it. I also have other reasons.
Alison (#23) You are correct, I misread your post as suggesting that you agreed with Ralph Hancock’s rationale. That’s what I get for posting at 5:50 a.m.
Adam G (#21) I count myself as attunded to the “differences between men and women.” But those differences do not suggest to me that women need be excluded from the priesthood. Fatherhood is the male corrolary to woman’s motherhood; not priesthood. Fatherhood is magnified by the priesthood. So would motherhood. Motherhood and priesthood are completely compatible.
I don’t hate it. While we need to understand that we do not and will not have all the answers, it’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable to try to make sense of what we do.
Elder Holland (and other GAs) said they prayed for years and years that the black priesthood ban would be lifted. In order to even engage in such behavior, they had to come to the conclusion that the reasons and/or non-reasons for the ban were not permanent/accurate/consistent/acceptable. I’m OK with that model.
I have found that an enormous majority of scriptural revelations have come as the result of direct petitioning/questioning, rather than sitting passively waiting for the inspirational lightening to strike. Given that pattern, I doubt that God will ever give women the priesthood (if, indeed, he will) unless someone in authority, starts asking about it.
I like the ideas you have for extending opportunities to women.
You do know about Visiting Teaching, right? Generally speaking, that isn’t a phone call, but an actual visit. Still, I think it’s absurd that men teach families and women only teach other women. :/
Rob, I agree completely. I’ve been an administrator. I can do it pretty well. It’s not what makes me a disciple. RSPs hold a mantle of authority no bishop wisely dismisses. The link I gave earlier that booted my previous comment was to Pres. Beck speaking to a leadership training in Arizona and repeats a conversation she had with the head of UN Women in which that woman, who has been a government leader in Chile said, “I know what your men do, and I know your women don’t do anything.” It was a very interesting exchange. At the end of that training a SP also spoke about the crucial nature of his SRPs observations about a stake boundary change. I think wise leaders already involve women. I know my opinions were always considered when I sat on ward councils.
Harvard Business Review just released results of a study on women and leadership. I hesitate to put the link on here, but the title is “Are Women Better Leaders Than Men?” and you can google it. Interesting results. I understand why people think that should impact the ordaining of the priesthood, but I think it should have more impact in ward, stake, and global councils. That’s just me.
Allison, I think Dave K mistook your summary of Ralph’s position as your position. Based on his follow up comments, I’d think you two probably agree more often than not, no?
Adam G., I don’t personally know anyone who’s going to deny there are significant differences between men and women. I think most people here recognize differences AND recognize those differences are not valid justifications for denying or restricting priesthood.
When 2 Nephi 26:33 says that “all are alike unto God”, both black and white, male and female, it doesn’t deny differences, but rather that in God’s eyes we’re equal nevertheless.
Whoops, took too long to comment. Dave K. beat me to it.
My opinion about some of the gender differentiation in the church is no secret. I’ve written about it ad nauseum. Discussing a particular statement that was used to counter the idea that women could/should/might hold the priesthood isn’t a red herring. It’s simply a discussion of a particular statement that was used to counter the idea that women could/should/might hold the priesthood.
You said you disagree with my reading of his statement. So, tell me why.
Elder Oaks new biography Life’s lessons learned has an entire chapter devoted to the folly of assigning reasons to God’s revelations. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is so clear and concise, so ahead of it’s time.
As women become ever more manly and men become ever more effeminate, as the difference between men and women is erased, the confusion will increase. Fortunately, the living prophets and the scriptures provide Christ-like patterns to follow. For example, Lehi was a true disciple of Christ, a devoted husband and a tender parent. He wanted desperately for his wife and children, and for all mankind, to come unto Christ and partake of the fruit of the tree of life. From the vantage point (or rather, the disadvantage point) of the great and spacious building, he might have seemed like a power-hungry, fruit-hoarding misogynist. Nephi probably seemed to them a homophobic bigot and misogynist in training, whose less than fashionable clothing and visionary outlook made him an easy target for mockery. But like his father and mother, Nephi paid them no heed.
Thanks for that clarification. If my memory of Brooks’ position is correct, I believe you are right. My statement was ambiguously written.
I so appreciate your personal stories. :) I am a stay-at-home mom of six. I homeschool. And I have a home business (PopCred. I completely, utterly, totally agree that kids should be the absolute priority AND that they demand quantity, not just some fuzzy guilt-assuaging notion of quality.
Why not say PARENTS should make children the #1 priority, not just moms? Why not spread church responsibilities around so that, instead of having bishops who are known to never be home, more people do a share of the work and ALL parents can prioritize their families?
I agree with almost everything you’ve posted, except the idea that having the priesthood should necessarily distract from that which is most important. Why would it? I’m unsure how being able to participate in blessing our babies and anointing a sick child should/would pull us off prioritizing families.
I’ve also been a Relief Society president. It was an enormous amount of work. I don’t see how holding the priesthood would have made it less work or prioritized my children more.
My dad was a bishop four times, in a stake presidency, and a high counselor most of the rest of the time. I know the commitment, the time, the number of middle-of-the-night emergencies (highest occurrence when he was a branch president at the MTC). Perhaps it would have been better had his callings not been so demanding and my mom had more help at home. (Although I love and admire both my parents deeply.)
In other words, I think the lesson you learned might be even more profound if it was seen as a possible lesson for men and their callings. After years wrangling the kids in the pew while my husband sat on the stand or was assigned to a ward in another county, I’m pretty confident in saying that his presence was sorely missed. :)
Lucy, I must have missed the part in the Book of Mormon where Nephi discusses his views on homosexuality and fashion.
I don’t agree that the Proclamation on the Family is self-evidently clear (ex: what it means for a father to preside in the home when the husband and wife are equal partners), but I’m not interested in arguing the point.
PS: My wife regrets that I used the term “BS” in my first comment. Said it makes it sound like I’m argumentative and don’t have a vocabulary. She’s probably right. I shouldn’t use such charged rhetoric, cause I don’t feel argumentative about this. I just don’t think certain justifications (like the one in the OP) used are valid.
Dave K (#13), very well said. :)
Meldrum the Less (#14):
Meldrum, I am actually one of the people who has found the notion that whites were too racist to accept blacks as equals as the MOST palatable reason for the black ban. I recognize that it may not be right, but it’s one that I can handle.
In the same way, I can see the possibility that the female ban might have to do with men desiring power and dominance — or something like that. That is the way I read Hancock’s counter argument.
If that reading is correct, I think it’s worth discussing the problems in a system that caters to that, how it effects women (and men), and how we can move beyond it.
I do agree that it needs to be a matter of thought, prayer and discussion. What I don’t like, is people trying to come up with excuses for why something should remain in place (especially is the excuse is lame). The only reason we now need, is that the Lord established it this way, at least for now.
Otherwise, we end up teaching, and perhaps eventually promoting, wrong concepts that end up extending out wrong things. I think that the priesthood ban on blacks would have ended much sooner had there not been such a strong following for the Curse of Cain rationale. Resistance to new revelation prevented new revelation from coming.
Whether it is God’s will to someday give a priesthood to women or not, I’d hate to see Hancock’s rationales end up delaying a possible revelation from God.
Errr, make that a response to #25, Alison. I have numerical challenges sometimes.
Given that the pattern of revelation is that it usually seems to follow asking a sincere question, my only thought is that it may be a simple enough matter of our leaders feeling urgent enough about this to actually start asking the question.
That they might not have isn’t really a sign of some sort of dastardly, systematized and deliberate attempt at patriarchal oppression, or being uninspired, or any other sinister motive (to me). I believe they’re plenty inspired to get the answers if they ask the questions, and I’d love to know what answer they would get…maybe there is no good reason the answer will be “It’s about time!” or maybe it will match up with the types of speculations offered by Allison or Ralph Hancock.
palerobber (#18): nice. :)
Bonnie (#20), I rescued your comment from the spam filter. :)
Adam G. (#22):
Idea: rather than just spit out one-liners, why not respond in a meaningful way. For example:
(1) who isn’t “alive” to the differences between men and women (and what, exactly, does mean)?
(2) What are the actual gender differences that you believe support/contradict/other the status quo?
(3) What do those real gender differences have to do with Hancock’s statement and/or my reading?
Well, you see, I’m not even sure THAT is a valid reason. I can’t tell which scriptures apply only to men and which include women under that “mankind” umbrella. Can you?
Sure, that’s why we makes sure we are clear that we are speculating, giving opinion, trying to make sense of things. I seriously cannot fathom being a parent of anyone over seven without offering some gospel-according-to-Alison answers. I just make a serious effort to distinguish between official doctrine/policy and what I THINK about them.
Ah, wait, so you’re proposing a REASON for the timing of the lifting of the ban? Uh… ;)
James M (#37):
Completely agree (see comment #26).
Again, I agree. At FOUR years old, I told my mom (at my sister’s baptism) that when I got baptized, I wanted dad to baptize, but mom to confirm me.When I was almost 12, the boy who had bullied me at church since I was five was given the priesthood. The situation has troubled me almost my entire life.
My mother was bright, well-educated, and a true scriptorian. And she just could not figure out why it bothered me. Although filing mostly traditional female roles, my mom wasn’t remotely submissive, but she couldn’t figure out why I would ever want the priesthood.
I have no doubt that when President Hinckley said that no women are “agitating” for the priesthood, he was sincere. I have no doubt that MOST of the women that surround the general leaders are content with the status quo. And unless/until we have general leaders who see this as an issue (worth seeking revelation about), nothing will change.
Made me smile. :)
I am puzzled that so many of the LDS intelligentsia so readily adopt the perspective that what is good for a man is always good for a woman and vice versa. Physically, biologically and (I believe) spiritually, there are profound differences.
I am also amused that another significant portion of the commentators seem to believe that THEY understand what God wants, and are just patiently waiting for church leaders to catch up with them. Hubris?
Lucy in #31 writes, “As women become ever more manly and men become ever more effeminate, as the difference between men and women is erased, the confusion will increase. Fortunately, the living prophets and the scriptures provide Christ-like patterns to follow.”
I find this deliciously ironic: How on earth can you have a “Christ-like” pattern if men and women are supposed to be so very different? Wouldn’t that create problems for women following Christ? I’d hate for the women to be such precise followers of Christ that they accidentally got all “manly” from following his male example.
Once you get past plumbing and the practices a primitive society uses to structure labor around frequent child-bearing, I think virtually all gender differences are socially constructed. A great portion of the reason that I think that is because of the picture of Christ that we get from the gospels: here’s a weeper with a whip, here’s a child-nurturer with a “woe unto you.” He shows both stereotypically masculine and stereotypically feminine behavior. I think there just might be a lesson in that.
I haven’t read all of the comments, so maybe this point has already been made, but it hardly seems unreasonable to suppose that a male rite of passage and a male identity ceases to be male when women are included. This doesn’t mean that it couldn’t still be “awesome” only that it would no longer be male. Certainly, as it is currently organized the priesthood serves as a set of rites of passage for young men. This might be problematic for one of two reasons.
First it might be problematic because we are suspicious of the idea of an identity based on gender. Hence, we shouldn’t have male rites of passage or female rites of passage but merely human rites of passage. I suspect that few if anyone actually has this objection. Of course, one might still object with the way in which male or female identity gets worked out but I am actually skeptical that anyone really wants androgyny. Still, one might.
Second it might be problematic because priesthood actually serves multiple roles. It is more than simply a male rite of passage. It also distributes institutional power. It also distributes liturgical power. It also plays a theological role in understanding human relationship to the divine. And so on. The complaint would be that there isn’t a logical or defensible connection between these roles and the role of male rite of passage and constructor of male identity.
I don’t think that Hancock is being disingenuous. The priesthood clearly structures male identity and male rites of passage within the church. To the extent that you are going to have something that fulfills these roles, that something will need — at some level — to exclude women. The problem with Hancock’s discussion on this point, it seems to me, is that it is the way in which priesthood performs other functions that Joanna and others find troubling. Of course, these critiques also miss something important about priesthood by failing to see the way in which it productively structures male identity, even as it may structure other relationships in troubling ways.
For what it is worth, this is why I have thought that most of the ways in which women getting the priesthood is imagined are pretty fatuous. It isn’t that I can’t imagine women getting the priesthood or even that I wouldn’t welcome such a change. It is is only that such a change would be far more radical than simply giving women equal administrative power within the church. It would involve in some sense the destruction of male Mormon identity. This might be necessary, but we would need to have something to put in its place.
I’ve asked the same gender question, Suleiman. So, please make sense of it for me.
“If gender matters, if the distinction means so much that we define life roles based on gender and we include/exclude people from callings, actions, etc., based on gender, and we acknowledge deity based on gender — if men and and and women are intrinsically, inherently, eternally different, and that difference really matters — then can a church authority structure comprised almost exclusively of men address the needs of women sufficiently?”
If gender is so fundamentally important, doesn’t it demand more women in leadership, rather than fewer?
Julie #42: “Once you get past plumbing and the practices a primitive society uses to structure labor around frequent child-bearing, I think virtually all gender differences are socially constructed.”
I think that this statement is not fully informed and is naive. The hormonal differences that begin in gestation and run throughout the course of a human life lead to some very pronounced differences between the sexes. These differences are not merely “plumbing” but address the very way that the brain is structured and works. It also leads to differences in the way the central nervous system responds. The brain of a male (there will be exceptions) is different in terms of hemispherical access to information, speech development and specialization and the way information is processed. These are not merely social difference; however, they do reflect themselves in our social norms and practices. So social differences between the genders are not merely random and meaningless because human contrivances, but reflections or the human physiology and the way men and women actually differ. The social differences reinforce and magnify the physiological differences because the brain is rather plastic and reflect the environment that was influenced by the brain’s physiology in the first place.
Now whether the priesthood gift is based on these physiological differences, I don’t know. I rather doubt it. I do suggest that God has no obligation to give priesthood based on democratic or equal access interests.
Blake #45 “I do suggest that God has no obligation to give priesthood based on democratic or equal access interests”
But in the absence of any revelation from God, many unthinkingly assume that God is behind the current set-up (as opposed to a traditionally patriarchal society as the reason for it), similar to how many assume(d) than God was behind the restriction of priesthood based on race. Whether priesthood is restricted based on race or sex, there better be a solid reason. As far as I know, there’s nothing solid. Just empty justifications and tradition. There just doesn’t seem to be as pressing of a concern as there was with race to provide impetus for the [male] leaders of the Church to seriously consider a change.
As I read all these comments the concept of non coed high schools kept popping into my mind. It occurred to me that the most sexist people in the world are little boys. Nine year old boys especially dislike girls, by they time the start to notice them in a good way their hormones are raging so I sat here contemplating what it would be like to have sixteen year old boys and sixteen year old girls in the same priesthood class. Having been in Sunday school class with them I can’t help but think it would be a great distraction to say the least. I think that there are so many aspects of male female interactions that get in the way for most of our lives that I think that if there were a female “priesthood” it would look a lot like what we have today. I stopped yearning for the priesthood when I realized the bishops I related to were not out to make my life miserable. I think there is something positive to be said for men and women, boys and girls spending at least some time with their tribe, so to speak. I can’t think of anything I enjoy less than being around men who have me outnumbered. The don’t act the same way as they do one on one. I doubt it is possible to civilize them as long as there are some activities that women do not want to engage in. So some of you cook and change diapers. Good for you. How many of you are prepared to act as a female role model? Can you sit on their bed and laugh or cry over girls issues? I used to think I would like the priesthood so I could be part of the club. Have a uniform and sit on the bench. I have decided what I have is quite enough.
Julie Smith (#42), thank you! The contradictions go on and on.
Men and women are SO different, that’s why we have the distinctions. But who cares that there are so few women in the scriptures and we can’t talk about Mother in Heaven and we have no models for what female eternal life is supposed to be? It doesn’t matter. But it does matter. But it doesn’t matter…
Alison, you make some excellent points. (By the way, I homeschooled for 8 years myself.)
I guess my thing is that it’s a cultural misconception that the most powerful person is the one “in charge.” That’s so destructively corporate. I don’t know a single bishop that thinks he’s all that when he’s standing next to his RSP (whether or not she tends toward a southern accent and snapping a z). I don’t have a beef with sitting in the seats when my babies were blessed, because I’ve given them my own blessings without fanfare and laying on of hands. I realize that everything I’m saying is reducing the power of the lay priesthood. I don’t know quite how to get around that except to say that I think the power of the priesthood is beyond any man and nested in ordinances, not in the freedom to officiate in the ordinances (meaning that any man is just as saved as I am by virtue of the priesthood, whether or not he holds it and having the priesthood moves him no nearer to God or power or discipleship or even serving his kids than it does me). I’m sorry guys. I don’t know why you have the priesthood. I’m not sure what it’s doing for you. I probably need some help with this.
I do share your concern that there is too little female in the leadership and I believe in talking about eternal womanhood in more powerful terms. On the other side, I appreciate how included at least one woman (Julie Beck) is. I hope she speaks loud, since she’s speaking for all of us.
nbo, #43, because of what you said, I can logically defend a male-only priesthood. Men are keepers of liturgical power and women are keepers of procreative power, each in all their many forms. It maintains a balance. You have to give the priesthood structure credit; at least since 1978 it’s a lot more democratic than childbearing, which tends to be a hit and miss blessing (well, at least for some people.)
Alison – regarding Heavenly Mother, I think that’s a social problem as serious as the seed of Cain garbage, but I have faith it’ll get worked out.
I’m really curious how many men suffer uterus-envy. You are largely pretty open-minded about giving women the priesthood. Do any of you wish you could birth a baby?
Clean Cut: Would the revelations about the Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood in the Doctrine & Covenants be a solid basis? I don’t mean to imply that it can’t be changed. It can — just like only Levites once received the priesthood. But saying that there is no basis just doesn’t seem accurate to me.
Bonnie: I never wanted to give birth, but I wanted to be close to our as yet unborn children like my wife was. When she had miscarriages, I had literally no attachment and for me it was a good thing because biology was working selectively to avoid mistakes. For her it was a very different experience.
Blake (#45) and Julie, see earlier T&S post summarizing Simon Baron-Cohen’s research and book detailing some of the differences in male and female brain development and function:
#42 “the picture of Christ that we get from the gospels: here’s a weeper with a whip, here’s a child-nurturer with a “woe unto you.” He shows both stereotypically masculine and stereotypically feminine behavior.”
Sure, the Lord isn’t Chuck Norris or Clint Eastwood, but He’s not Richard Simmons or Robert Smith (lead singer for the Cure) either.
#48 “But who cares that there are so few women in the scriptures and we can’t talk about Mother in Heaven and we have no models for what female eternal life is supposed to be?”
Sure it matters. There are plentiful examples of righteous women in the scriptures. Following Christ didn’t seem like such a big problem for Eve, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Martha and others. They, among others, were Christ-like women. Sister Beck has been pretty clear about what it means to be a Christ-like woman, both in example and in word.
I’m unsure of your point. You don’t know bishops who are narcissists? Great. Most of the bishops I’ve had were very good people. You don’t mind being excluded from blessing your babies because you gave them a non-blessing blessing? Good. But I do. ???
Along with petri dishes. Last time I checked, I can’t do that procreative thing on my own. It takes one of those…you know…keepers of liturgical power. ;) So I guess they are kind of “keepers of procreative power,” too.
I don’t understand this paragraph. I had five miscarriages. The “attachment” I had was that they occurred inside me and were very painful. How does the fact that “biology was working selectively to avoid mistakes” make lack of attachment either good or bad? FTR, there are lots of reasons for miscarriages, fetal abnormality being only one of many.
Blake, it’s clear to me that the priesthood was very patriarchal in the way it was traditionally passed down (I’m thinking of D&C 84)–so I don’t mean to imply that’s baseless. It’s just not clear to me exactly why that happened without God actually on the record as saying “only men shall have priesthood (and here’s why…)” or “here’s why women can’t have priesthood”.
Because that’s not clear, I’m left wondering if it’s because scriptures came out of a male dominated society where women weren’t even viewed as equals, were written by men, etc. or if God really desires it that way. I find the former more likely because of history and also because of 2nd Nephi 26:33, but what do I know? I’m just a man. :)
I’ve always been puzzled by the “men need extra privileges to feel special” argument. Shouldn’t the gospel be enough, in theory, to get people in the door? What does it say about LDS men that it isn’t enough to hold their interest? It seems childish.
There are lots of men who participate in more egalitarian religions despite not having special gender-based privileges, so are those men different from LDS men in some way?
I’m always puzzled by the folks who assert “men and women are different” and imply that therefore any sort of disparate treatment should be considered normal and appropriate.
Yes, as a descriptive matter, there are physiological differences between men and women. And yes, there are also a variety of socially constructed differences in the way that men and women interact with other people in society. So what?
After all, that difference means nothing in a variety of other church contexts. For instance, men and women are both baptized. Men and women are both confirmed. Men and women are both taught to pray. Men and women are both taught to repent. In a variety of church contexts, we treat men and women the same, despite the physiological differences between the two groups.
So, the reply that “duh, men and women are different” doesn’t really address the issue. Why does it make sense to baptize identically, pray identically, and ordain differently? What is it about the physiological or socialized differences between men and women that would justify this particular curious structure of partially disparate treatment?
Ralph Hancock suggests, as Alison paraphrases, that a male-only Priesthood makes men feel special. But wouldn’t a male-only baptism have the same effect? Or male-only repentance? And if we don’t think that giving baptism to women will drive men out of the church, why do we think that giving Priesthood to women would have that effect?
Excluding women from Priesthood leadership is not costless. There are a lot of reasons why we might want to have greater participation from women in the institution’s decisionmaking structures. For instance, research clearly shows that group decisionmaking is most effective when women are involved in the process. (See http://hbr.org/2011/06/defend-your-research-what-makes-a-team-smarter-more-women/ar/1 ). This dovetails with some statements from LDS leaders as well, such as Elder Wirthlin’s statement that we wouldn’t want an orchestra with only piccolos.
So yes, I think Alison is asking the right questions here. Why exactly is it that we think this policy is necessary, or is a good idea?
Hancock’s thesis isn’t that men need extra privileges, but that they need early development apart from women in order to experience “rites of passage [that] serve purposes particularly appropriate to the making of boys into men and to the effective and wholesome definition of manhood…”
I used to think this. You can probably find a carefully written treatise expressing this same theory under my online moniker somewhere. It’s a fairly reasonable attempt to explain the status quo. However, in the recent past, as I’ve been wrestling with the issues around my children’s inactivity, and trying to look at this from their perspective; through the eyes of someone who’s grown up in a world where women can (mostly) operate in spheres where they once were excluded, I have to conclude that I find no reason that men need development as servant-leaders that women don’t need as well. I suspect that among my daughters’ reasons for leaving (which they are loathe to explore with me) will be feeling undervalued in all but traditional roles, underdeveloped except as wives and mothers, and a refusal to become the somewhat infantilized adult that is the unwritten expectation of Mormon women.
There’s a reason why nine-year-old boys are the sexist creatures they are. They are good observers of the world they live in, and see clearly that they have a shot at being in a position of power when they are grown, and I don’t think that does anything good for their development at all.
One alternative is that the issue isn’t that men need “extra” but rather than men and women learn better in separate groups. There have been quite a few studies coming out that women tend to do better in many measures when in their own area. A few people are even arguing for segregating learning again.
This is different from how things evolved the past 100 years or more but many have argued that Joseph was, before his death, attempting to setup the priesthood quorums and Relief Society as parallel organizations. In Utah, partially due to Brigham Young’s distrust of Emma Smith’s use of the Relief Society, things were curtailed. During the beginning of the correlation period that changed even more and women lost autonomy.
One alternative (and I’m not advocating this – just noting it’s historic precedence) is to simply strengthen the Relief Society and make it more independent. It seems like the real issue is not giving women enough and not whether men need ritual, inclusion to service or the like. If the Relief Societies were truly independent with their own budget and own ability to do charity work now typically assigned via the Bishop through that stewardship role and then delegated to the RS president I wonder what would happen. i.e. make the Bishop in that role independent from the RS and have Elders do the Bishop’s bidding relative to certain aspects of welfare (which is pretty limited independent of practically realized consecration).
I’d also note that there’s no real intrinsic aspect to the priesthood that makes teenagers the appropriate way to handle the Aaronic Priesthood. A lot of our program to train youth could be done independent of priesthood. Maybe assigning standard roles to the young women (say some jobs now given to AP such as Ushering, preparing aspects of the sacrament not laid down in revelation etc.)
Once again I’m not advocating any of these positions. I’m just noting that what is required to be done by the Priesthood is actually far more limited than our practices. Further a lot either were done in the past by women or could be done by women.
This doesn’t resolve concerns over judgment which appear to be formally given to the priesthood. Although there’s once again no reason why a Relief Society president couldn’t counsel women. (And in practice that happens fairly often – just not formalized as with a Bishop)
Clearly there’s a lot more to be revealed But it is interesting seeing the practical roles women have in the temple tied to priesthood ritual in all this too. Obviously it is limited and under the direction of the Temple President who is a high priest. But women are doing a lot tied to ritual there.
There’s a difference between Baptism and priesthood ordination.
A revelation has been given to the Prophet of the LDS church that every man, woman, and child above the age of accountability should be baptized, and this revelation has been canonized (multiple verses to get the full doctrine) from the book of Mormon and the D&C.
No such revelation exists for ordaining men and women to the priesthood. We currently have scriptures that talk about male priesthood. If you think it should change, convince God in your prayers.
Until such time as God tells the prophet to change, neither I, nor my wife, nor my faithful friends feel a need for a change. The problem with liberals is they all want the world to meet the wants of their minority status. Either it’s God’s church or not, either He’s in control or you can go vote for a different church by attending on. I hear the community of Christ ordains women now. And the people there wouldn’t even require you to believe the Book of Mormon, so it’s a win-win for you MINO’s.
Great post, it reminded me of the essay, “The Opposite of Man is Not Woman, it is Boy.” I loved the idea there, that men need to rise up above their own childish versions of themselves, not rise up over and dominate women.
Also, a ZD post by Kiskilili examines why it appears that priesthood must be male-only. She says in part,
“To a large extent, Christian virtues are coded as feminine. Where does that leave men in a Church also insisting gender is an essential aspect of eternal identity? They’re commanded to cultivate these virtues under the implicit understanding that they’re perhaps not able, or maybe even suitable, for such virtues. What’s needed in this framework is a conception of masculinity that makes virtue accessible to men through an avenue specifically coded as non-feminine, and priesthood provides exactly that. Priesthood is the means by which men publicly perform their masculinity through pro-social, community-sanctioned actions. It’s a way of being virtuous without being feminine—for the artificial reason that this particular set of activities has been deemed off-limits to women.”
#55 Alison – (just got back from RS)
So what you’re saying is that you only want the priesthood so that you can bless your babies? Do you want to be a bishop? Stake President? Apostle? What I’m saying is that it’s all or nothing the way the priesthood is now set up. When the door opens, it opens all the way. How does one protect the home and hearth if everyone holds the priesthood?
Once upon a time women were the keepers of social order, volunteering in organizations and seeing unmet societal needs. That sector has gradually morphed into nonprofits that are tasked with doing what an army of volunteers did, and now we have to do fundraising all the time. That happened when women entered the workplace in large numbers. Most subdivisions are now ghost towns during the day. When women are engaged in structured, hierarchical work, they shift their focus from seeing day-to-day social needs and having the freedom to apply their talents where they are most needed. Obtaining the priesthood places formerly free women into a hierarchical structure that limits them. Why would we want that?
And what of my point about the corporate mentality? The bishop isn’t the only important person in the ward. The head is not without the foot or the hands. Why would we make everyone alike? Why would we communicate to people that there is no value in receiving a service?
Personally, I think the RS is trying very hard to empower women, and they are pushing back, wanting more craft activities and less to do with salvation. Pres. Beck has to keep saying that we are not in the entertainment business, we are in the salvation business. Maybe you’re ready for the priesthood, but I guarantee you, a lot of women are not even on board with the mission. I think we’re a long ways away from an army of Elizas.
Regarding petri dishes, I also carried a few babies, and I guarantee that I did more than a petri dish. Show me a petri dish that can grow a human soul. Procreation is initially an act of two, but gestation is an act of one, and we haven’t found any way around that. To equalize the two contributions does violence to what I put into procreation.
Priesthood is agency, as in an agent acting in the stead of Jesus Christ. In ancient Israel it was one small segment of men, born of a specific lineage. They served to preserve the promises, the covenants, the ordinances. I don’t see why everyone needs the priesthood when they have access to it. I can prophesy for my children in my role as their mother, as can any woman. How many woman are even bothering to prophesy for their children?
I have seen some of those as well and think it bears asking WHY that is.
I found your input and ideas very interesting.
Kaimi, please make a not of this in the margins of your scriptures. It may come in handy next time you begin to get all those ordinance thingies confused.
psycho, I suggest you read Elder Holland’s account about the racial priesthood ban. He says that from the time he was a KID, he prayed for the ban to be lifted. In other words, long before God told the prophet to change the policy, he saw a need for a change.
I think I’m OK with following Holland’s example over those of you and your uber-faithful friends.
Wow, I sure hope this was directed at me. Every single Tea Party activist should be accused of being a liberal at least once in his/her life.
psycho, please clarify that you (and your faithful wife and friends) have all stopped praying altogether. Please don’t bless your food, ask for guidance, petition for help. Doing so would deny God’s control.
Oh, wait, even Christ asked God to change his situation. But I guess he wasn’t as faithful as your band of merry men.
Have you EVER asked a man this? Have you asked your husband or bishop or anyone? It’s such a bizarre question. What difference does it make? Why would anyone even plan that out? Did President Monson have his eyes on the top spot when he looked forward to being ordained a deacon?
So, what, if I ONLY want to bless my babies, then maybe it’s OK? Or, well, if I want to merely stand in the confirmation circle (not actually speak the ordinance), will that leave me lowly, humble, and submissive enough? Or keep me home enough? Or make sure I don’t look ambitious or to be seeking after position?
Wah! It always comes to this, doesn’t it?! YES YES YES! I want it ALLLLLL! I want to rule the church!!!!!!!!!! Bwahahahahahah!
And being an active woman in the church means I might be called to something that I’m not comfortable with or not very good at or whatever. The chances of me being called to a general board (let alone auxiliary) are about .000000001%. So?
Bonnie, darlin’, we ARE in the hierarchical structure! When I was the RS president and when I’ve been a counselor — and when I’ve served anywhere, including my current calling — I do a great deal of work in the church. I just have to have every move approved by men.
So everyone WITH the priesthood is a clones. And the other half without the priesthood are also clones. Now we have two kinds of clones and if women get the priesthood, we’ll have one.
Or, maybe having/not having the priesthood actually doesn’t create clones.
Because…well…er…because…I have no idea what you are talking about.
My husband calls me the anti-craft. So, I’m thinking I’m not part of that problem.
So, women who like scrapbooking aren’t ready for the priesthood, but guys who shoot hoops for their weekly mutual activity are. Gotcha.
Maybe this is off topic, but I think we all agree (at least that what ist sounds like to me) that men and women are different, but equally capable. Do we not complement each other? If so, why is there no female companion to the “judge in Israel”? Why does a woman need to go in front of a panel of High Priests, all men, to be disciplined by the Church? Where are the Priestesses? How would some of you guys feel going in front of a panel of RS Presidents with say… a pornography problem? Is that a fair and balanced hearing?
When my husband blessed my children he always asked me to write down what I wanted them blessed with. I’ve always treasured that about him. But how much more “awesome” would it be for us to jointly anoint and bless them. Who better knows their needs, desires, and faults than their earthly parents joinly with their Heavenly parents? Who has more authority to anoint them in their ills than the two of us together? And what of the single mothers? Why are they denied such a sacred opportunity? I have blessed and protected my children through my faith and prayers. Yet, I am not allowed a say regarding their advancement in the Priesthood. I agree that it is high time we ask ourselves why there is such an imbalance in our administrative and spiritual duties. If Men are to step up and help out with household chores, changing diapers, caring and teaching the children, then women need to also step up and help out with the administrative duties of the Church, whether they desire them or not. No one like or wants the tough jobs, yet they still need to be done. We share the burden and joys of raising and supporting our families, shouldn’t we share the burden and joys of moving forward this great work? At such perilous times I feel that all hands are needed on deck! We might even find out that we work well together as a team.
Alison talked about Elder Holland’s experience with the blacks-and-the-Priesthood thing, which I think is a fair comparison. I recall, or that I think that I recall, that President Kimball, when talking about the lifting of the ban, specifically said that he knew that thousands of Mormons had been praying for that day to come. And again I think that he said that God had heard those prayers, and that they were important.
The problem is, I can’t find that quote. Did I imagine it? Or morphed his words? Does anyone out there have a memory of, or access to this quote?
I liked it because I remember thinking this: If someone had prayed, in Sacrament meeting on the week before June 8 1978, if someone had prayed and pleaded with God to lift the ban on, say June 3, 1978, that person would have been looked upon as being out of step. He or she would have been seen as some who wanted to “steady the ark.” However, President Kimball, (if he really said it!) suggests that those members who prayed for the change played a significant part in that change.
So, does anyone have that quote? Is it my bad memory? I have looked for it in various ways, but I haven’t been able to find it. If you have it you can’t post it here, or contact me directly if you wish: [email protected]
LOL, Alison, I have given soooooooo many non-blessing blessings. I like your style. :)
Stephen, I believe that was in the old Kimball manual, about him praying to list the priesthood ban…
Do you mean the Priesthood/RS manual from a few years ago?
Yes, it’s where I remember reading it… I think I taught that lesson, and it struck me too. Uchdorf also gave a talk that much of our doctrine came about from questions and petitions to the Lord. I’ll look it up in the morning :)
Kaimi was clearly producing an apples-and-oranges argument. He said, ‘Why not baptism too.’ I wrote: ‘they are not the same. Both exist as they are by commandment. You want that changed you gotta change the source.’
Further, AMS. I never even implied that you shouldn’t petition God for a change. In fact, if you reread my post, possible with a third-grade reading level attentiveness, you’ll see that I explicitly SUGGESTED that you pray about it. For you to now claim that I was going against ‘Elder Hollands’ advice is laughable.
FTR, I was not specifically referring to you, but I guess if the shoe fits… Just because some of your political beliefs are “Libertarian” doesn’t mean you don’t have messed-up, liberal reasonings in your head. We’re all fallen, so to some extent we all try and force other people to accept our minority viewpoint, we all care for images rather than facts, and slogans rather than arguments. As Ann Coulter describes in “Demonic”, those are benchmarks of the liberal movement. Being a “Libertarian” isn’t some kind of magical protection that keeps you from stupid logic. Having someone call you out on it can help, but you know, they say the first step is recognizing you have a problem. Someone can hold up a mirror to another and you can put a bullet through it, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re ugly. In this case, mirror=me, ugly=liberal thoughts, and I think you can figure the rest out.
Oh, and for the record AMS, I have called you a liberal in the past.. so now you’ve gotten it twice. And it is the worst thing I can say about a person.
I thought that ad hominen attacks were against the rules here. I believe that psychohemiker has clearly gone way past any line of decorum or respect. I would either close the thread or do more editing. His kind of posts here destroy the open and respectful exchange that T&S should be. I don’t often agree with Alison, but she deserves respect. She can continue to quote Elder Holland in her defense, and psychomemiker can quote Coulter back.
So you see these differences as two non-overlapping frequency distribution curves? Or do they overlap? It seem to me there must be some overlap or how would we cooperatively interact? Given that male traits are almost totally acceptable if the curves do overlap shouldn’t just the more feminine women in the non-overlap be excluded?
In #45, Blake writes, “The hormonal differences that begin in gestation and run throughout the course of a human life lead to some very pronounced differences between the sexes. These differences are not merely “plumbing” but address the very way that the brain is structured and works.”
Unless you can point me to any results of this hormonal bath that lead to, if you will, non-overlapping magisteria between the genders, then this is not relevant. So what if men are 15% less empathetic than women or women are 17% less able to read a map–how on earth would that small difference justify a complete ban on female priesthood? The very best that research on gender differences can do is to show high levels of overlap between men and women with small divergences. In other words, a certain % of men are more empathetic [or whatever stereotypical female trait you want to insert] than a certain % of women. That’s not the kind of difference that would lead us to conclude that a male-only priesthood makes any kind of sense. And that’s the best case scenario; I find a lot of this research suspect.
Howard #74: You didn’t read carefully. I expressly stated that I don’t think that physiological differences justify the difference re: priesthood — so it is irrelevant to that distinction. I simply disagreed with the statement that the differences between genders were merely plumbing.
But while we’re at it — what is the theory of those who assert that there is a duty to give the priesthood? Are they claiming they don’t understand the reason for this difference? The reason is that the priesthood was revealed to Joseph Smith as the patriarchal order. Is that revelation given that way only because Joseph Smith was so bamboozled by his own culture and surroundings that we can’t trust it? If so, then revelation is not a trustworthy basis of leading the church and the entire enterprise may as well be a mere social club. This isn’t like blacks and the priesthood to the extent that there is a basis in revelation for this difference — it is called the patriarchal order of the priesthood that was passed down from father to son. Those who reject that God could limit priesthood to a patriarchal order reject these revelations. But what do they replace that with? Their own culturally bound and equally limited basis for judgment.
If you reject that God could adopt a patriarchal order, or limit priesthood to just Israel or just Levites, then you’ll reject this justification too — and along with it the justification for the entire gospel enterprise which is revelation.
Just what is the theory of those arguing that God has a duty to extend priesthood to females as well as males? That God must be democratic when dispensing the priesthood? That God has a duty to give the priesthood only to the most capable among us? I doubt that happens even remotely now among men.
How about that God has duty to give the priesthood only to the strongest? Nope, that includes a lot of women too. How about that God has a duty to give it so we have a representative government? Nope, the men chosen don’t even represent the cross section of men. I suggest that God doesn’t have a duty to adopt a governmental form of democracy for those given the burden of priesthood service.
How about that God will hurt a lot of feelings if he doesn’t give it to everybody? Wow, join the ranks of all of us who don’t get selected to be in a bishopric and get relegated to the Sunday School secretary position.
How about that God will have a better management team if he includes women — so that we adopt Kaimi’s unspoken assumption that God has a duty to maximize the ranks of the priesthood with good managers to achieve managerial efficiency? If that is what God is after, let’s limit the priesthood to proven CEOs and MBA grads and have them go to a theological seminary to be trained.
I don’t know why God limited the priesthood to just Levites, though it was utilitarian because it was a totally consuming job to run the temple cultus and it required trained folks to do it. But then we have temple workers like that today. I don’t know why God limits the priesthood to just males over the age of 12 at this point. What I do know is that I have seen the power of the priesthood in both my ministrations and in my wife’s temple endowment. I’m open to the possibility that women hold the priesthood in a real sense right now but that their callings in the priesthood are different. Maybe it will change some day.
What I do suggest is that God doesn’t have a duty to call everyone to leadership positions, to run a democratic or representative government or to limit callings only to the most capable and trained. Every argument I have seen here for giving women the priesthood assumes otherwise. It would fully support giving the priesthood to my daughters and wife. What I don’t support is arguing that the Church is just a bunch of old men who don’t get it and that revelation given so far is just capricious — and really just a cultural artifact so that we cannot trust it.
Julie: Go back and read #45 again. Now read at the bottom where I say: “Now whether the priesthood gift is based on these physiological differences, I don’t know. I rather doubt it.”
Now read #76. You see, we actually agree — except that I don’t find the research suspect. In fact, it has been documented that much of this research showing gender differences was suppressed precisely because of the feared backlash from feminists.
Blake, now reread my #75 where I say “this is not relevant.” If your point is that you recognized before I did that your tangent into gender research wasn’t relevant to the discussion, then . . . good.
Julie: #78. aaarrrggh!
psychochemiker, you’re not much of a people person, are you?
My unsolicited advice is to consider how important civility is to you–both to those with whom you agree but also to those with whom you disagree. And also–don’t post when you’re angry.
I’ve not been terribly impressed with the analysis of why. I think in some cases our educational pedagogy is set up around women and doesn’t know how to deal with boys. (Witness the recent emphasis on broadening autistic spectrum when perhaps at the rates we now have perhaps we are just seeing a major component of male behavior and learning) Yet at the same time boys by their behavior tend to monopolize the class. When boys are removed women start having the same success at creativity, assertiveness and so forth.
How much of this is a remnant of traditional gender dominance I don’t know. How much is just boys being unruly naturally in their behavior and monopolizing attention I don’t know. Even if we are ignorant of the why I think it clear there is an undeniable that.
I’m pretty skeptical of fully segregated education for a slew of reasons. But perhaps a partial segregation at certain times in order to allow female learning to flourish (not to mention male learning which seems just as much a victim in all this – not the rate of educational success by sex)
Don’t apply this uncritically to the priesthood issue. I think a lot of caution is in order. But I think it points to a possible reason for a sexual based difference in all this. Perhaps the problem isn’t sexual difference but how we’ve organized it at the policy level. And once again there are things to point to in the last months of Joseph Smith to justify this. (Which of course doesn’t entail it being correct)
I think this is important. It is not enough to identify a particular kind of sexual difference. (And most of the differences seem more differences in the size of the standard deviation than the location of the mean in terms of the sexes) One must explain how this particular difference is helped by the gender structures in the Church or helps the Church through those gender differences.
That said I think regardless of the underlying biological cause, it is undeniable that among most religions women are more involved. Even when you look at atheism (say in the ARIS study) men are overrepresented (6% vs. 3%). (And among Nones who may be somewhat religious men still dominate at 60%) So it’s an empirical fact that men tend to be less religious. Among the Pew religious study on Mormons (which I find problematic and a bit untrustworthy) there’s a significant gender gap in religious commitment. 73% of women vs. only 63% of men exhibit high level of religious commitment. (Nationally according to Pew it is also true with 36% vs. 24%)
One can take this two ways. The first is to say women are a neglected resource in terms of serving within Church. The second is to say that men need more involvement in order to be religious. It is interesting that it does back up slightly the traditional slightly distasteful defense of women not needing the priesthood because of a higher degree of spirituality. However I don’t think it can support the neglect of responsibilities for women which is effectively what many are using priesthood as a substitute for. More significantly it doesn’t really explain high Church office where those called are picked out of the class of already spiritual men typically. It doesn’t seem immediately obvious how that would help those more prone to be non-religious.
So there’s definitely a lot of complexity that I think undermines most of the simple explanations. (I’m not saying there isn’t an explanation – just that I’m pretty skeptical it’ll be simple if there is a good one)
This is a good point. I think we’re pretty biased by the 20th century tradition of making every man a priesthood holder as soon as possible. That wasn’t always the case. And even in the early 20th century it wasn’t uncommon to have adult males as Aaronic Priesthood. There’s nothing intrinsic to the priesthood to make it such a default setting nor to make teenagers automatically members of the Aaronic Priesthood organized by age. Indeed looking at scripture I see no indication this occurred at other times.
Perhaps part of the problem is our using priesthood as an intrinsic part of what should be the scouting program or some similar organization.
I think that one thing we find, especially with the last 20 years of scholarship, is that things pre-Utah were much more complex than it appears at first glance. Even the meaning of Patriarchal Priesthood in Joseph’s mind (as opposed to say what we see among Levitical priests). I do agree though that there is a presumption that any solution will happen to match the democratic egalitarianism of our own particular culture. That seems problematic. On the other hand let’s be honest. There’s a reason for that presupposition. Modernism has successfully argued that most pre-modern political systems are bad. There’s a burden of proof argument here both sides are making.
I don’t think there is a argument. Rather it seems like there are many different arguments being made. I might be wrong, but my sense is that Joanna Brooks might be open to there being two parallel organizations with equivalent power. I don’t see here arguing for effacing sexual difference. However other people (and occasionally Joanna verges on this) see problems with Bishops and Stake Presidents being only male. That is there is a problem with all judges and counselors being male.
I think that issue of judges is a bit independent of the issue of priesthood. Although I see why some might conflate them. My sense of Joseph’s view of the patriarchal priesthood is that of the fundamental organization of the Church being a familial one. The argument for something akin to priesthood for women is that women are an essential part of families and an equal part of the family unity started with marriage. As such to neglect them in such an order is to be blind to what is proposed. This argument goes further (and note I’m not embracing the argument – just presenting it) and notes that in the temple women have important functions and are designated priestesses which implies some kind of priesthood connection.
The argument thus becomes that whatever was being restored by Joseph was only partially restored and we need further revelation to fill it out. But whatever it is it has to address the role of women as priestesses.
I understood you were disagreeing with the statement that the differences between genders were merely plumbing. But to what end? The post clearly deals with the exclusion of women.
I don’t reject that God could adopt a patriarchal order. I believe he did but things have changed and father to son isn’t the order of the priesthood today. They can change again. I’m not arguing God has a duty to extend priesthood to females but he could:
Blake the prophet has spoken.
I have enjoyed the discussion.
Another story to illustrate a couple of points. When my now college attending daughter was 12 years old, she marched about 8-9 of her peers into the Bishop’s office right after Sacrament meeting and demanded that they all be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood right there on the spot. She exclaimed that the deacons had proven completely incapable of doing the sacrament. They all had long floppish uncombed hair and ill-fitting cloths and shambled along like a bunch of bums. The priests did not wash their hands and could barely read the prayers. The teachers had forgotten to bring the bread so often that the leaders had stashed a dozen loafs in the freezer and it was being used every week and still getting frost damaged and stale. The final straw was when that spaced-out idiot C. L. (brother to one of the girls present) went out into the foyer to pass the sacrament, wandered further out in the parking lot and eventually on down the street. One of the Priests had to fetch him back and this stunt alone wasted about 10 minutes of the meeting.
She promised the Bishop that the girls would always look sharp in matching long modest prom dresses, solid black with a bit of lavendar for highlights. They would pass the sacrament with drill team precision. No more goof-ups and missing several rows and such. No more slosh trays drenching people’s laps. They would memorize the prayers and practice delivery many times with appropriate drama and style. They would wash out and polish the trays every week and use bottled spring water from Utah. Finally instead of stale bread, they would make warm home-made bread fresh from the oven at the church for the sacrament; carefully and gently broken up, not squeezed into sticky dough balls.
The Bishop smiled meekly and shook his head and told the girls to take this matter up with their parents, he personally had no satisfactory explanation why they should not be ordained, except that it was not going to happen.
1. Girls, even at young ages, are painfully aware of the disparity in treatment and many of them are not happy with it. I believe the youth will force more changes if their elders do not and it won’t be pretty.
2. You can get away with blaming the differences beyond plumbing between adult men and women on social constraints. But as a parent of tennagers I can testify to you that the gulf between them is fundamental and enormous. Social constraints and culture and training is what brings the two genders together so that they can hope to function when they finally mature.
Not saying the current way this happens is the most desirable way and it does not justify inequality. It is simply misguided to presume that children of different genders start out hard-wired in even close to the same way.
My feeling is that if the Lord ever sees fit to give the priesthood to women, it will happen. And circumstances that lead up to it will set the stage. If there is to be such a thing, then we are in the midst of the setting of the stage for it at this moment, because it is being talked about. However, if there is some fundamental reason in the mind of God that we don’t understand, then it will never happen. However, I’m of the feeling that we should never say never when it comes to Mormonism.
Similarly, gay marrage in the Church could suprise us. We never know what the Lord has in store. Aside from all the other considerations, there seems to be no good argument people can make against gay marriage other than a religious argument. They can only say that it is “wrong” because God said so. I believe it is wrong, precisely and only because of that, personally. Keep in mind that I personally find it repugnant. Nevertheless, the duality is that I can make no “logical” argumentation against it. If you say that sex is for bringing people together in a relationship and for enjoyment in marriage and all that, and not *just* for procreation, then the argument against gay marriage logically falls. If two individuals make covenant and all that, and are faithful, who can tell them they are not being faithful to a spouse. Joseph Smith set up the precedent that what is wrong under one circumstance may well be right in another. Again, I’m not arguing for it, so much as making the concession that I have no rationality behind an argument against it, aside from a religious “God said so” argument, despite my personal repugnant feelings towards it. So all I can say is that “who knows?” I will say that I see no validity in eternal gay marriage relationships. I see no reason why those would accomplish anything, if marriage in eternity is for eternal increase, assuming same-sex attraction is not something in eternity. On the other hand, if the Church made allowance in mortality for civil relationships between gays, it would take a lot of the strain off those who have same-sex attraction, allowing them to be faithful to a spouse and to marriage covenants in mortality, and with a promise of something more permanent in eternity with a woman. Again, not advocating for it, just making admission that I have no logical argument against it.
Similarly, there is no logical argument against withholding the priesthood from women. Whatever God’s reason is for it, if he is the one behind it, it eludes us. All argumentation about how women have different roles and so forth pretty much fall on their face as far as priesthood is concerned. None of that is logical, and I see no rational argumentation that can be made for it.
Another issue that eludes us is why God would have people practice plural marriage in eternity. D&C 132 suggests it may be the case. Women abhor it. Good thinking men who think logically with the logical mind, and not with the “natural man,” do not necessarily hope for it, when they think rationally. On the other hand, if God has a purpose for it, that also eludes us.
But in all of these things, usually, if you say to someone, will you accept this is the way it has to be because a prophet said so? Some will say yes, and others will say no.
But then if you ask them, “if Jesus Christ were standing before you in person and told you that he had a purpose for these things that he could not reveal at this point, and asks you to accept it without knowing the reason why, would you accept it?” Usually the answer is yes, of course I would. Women and men who abhor the prospect of eternal plural marriage in eternity, when asked, “If the Savior asked you to do it in person?”, they will usually say, “Of course.” Or “If the Savior asked you in person to accept that only men can have priesthood and he has an eternal purpose that we don’t understand, would you accept that?” Again, they usually will say yes. So, it is interesting to me that there is such a difference between a prophet asking someone to do something, and the Savior himself asking someone to do something in people’s minds. Yes, I understand that the prophet is fallible and the Savior is not, and all that, but throughout the scriptures, the Savior himself continually asks us to accept what his servants ask us to do. So, I find that very interesting. These are just some observations I’ve made that relate to this subject. I have no idea what the future will hold, but I advise people that, based on historical precedent on all these types of subjects, they should never say never.
Joe I enjoyed your comment #84. In it you asked why God would have people practice plural marriage in eternity… Women abhor it. Good thinking men…do not necessarily hope for it. I don’t speak for God of course, but some people have been able to set aside selfishness, jealousy and insecurity to arrive at what Buddhists call mudita which is sympathetic or vicarious joy. The term compersion has been coined to express this idea when it is extended to the happiness one feels for their romantic partner experiencing joy, yes even sexual joy with another. It’s not free love or if it feels good do it. It is transcending our immature selfish emotions taking us to a higher level of connection and love. Perhaps this is what God has in mind for us. I suspect it is what he was trying to teach us by commanding plural marriage. My vision of this includes both polygyny and polyandry which is where I think Joseph was headed by marring married women.
PC (72) writes: “I have called you a liberal in the past.. so now you’ve gotten it twice. And it is the worst thing I can say about a person.”
Joseph Smith writes: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive . . .”
Alison, after a really interesting experience in the temple this morning I came back to find your energetic response. First to admit when I have spouted ill-formed ideas (a common occurrence when one is a figure-out-what-one-thinks-by-talking sort), I’d like to rephrase some refined thoughts that continue to take shape as I put a number of personal incidents together.
1. I really don’t believe Priesthood is the complement of Motherhood. I think Fatherhood and Motherhood are well-paired and are the pinnacle of refined discipleship.
2. Priesthood and Relief Society are meant to be complementary, each a training for its gender to be eternal parents, and I’m the first to admit that RS has not in recent history provided spectacular opportunities for female disciples to officiate (though I hold to my belief that both genders are missing the boat trying to make the church more corporate and less discipleship; priesthood does not equal management, it is much bigger than that).
3. Joseph said that the church was not fully formed until the RS was organized, but I don’t think it’s still fully formed (either the church or the RS) as I think some of these things grow over time as we stretch for additional revelation.
4. I don’t have to defend the ordination of men who play basketball and teenage doofuses. I have three teenage boys running around this house – the leap of faith God takes isn’t lost on me or on the two teenage girls and one new mother who look at them and shake their heads. People aren’t called because they are qualified, as attested by the sheer number of humble, simple people called when other more skilled individuals are in their midst. Besides, it’s God’s church and he gets to decide how it’s run, and he has laid out a structure for male ordination and responsibility in revelations. That’s a whole lot less controvertible than historical or cultural reasoning a la all-worthy-male ordination. I think rather than trying to hijack the priesthood structure we’d be better off asking a lot of questions about the female structure.
5. I don’t deny that women functioned beside men in the early part of the church. I think we need to talk about that and begin to seek modern revelation about what it means to be female wearing robes of the priesthood. I wonder if there isn’t something better than the male priesthood for women, something we haven’t even scratched the surface to discover. I expect to watch some interesting changes occur in my lifetime.
When they come, however, I don’t think it will be because we agitated for them. Abraham plead with the Lord to be a keeper of the promises, and if our hearts are as turned to serve God’s vineyard as his was, I think it will be more likely to occur, not because we felt like he owed us something and he felt some guilty need to acquiesce. The book of Job comes to mind.
Father, why do you give your boys all this power and authority and so little or none of it to your girls? And then, even when you do give the girls a piece of the action, it’s only under some other boy’s thumb and well out of the public eye?
So I can be a man. Is that what you say? Really?
What about all the other boys out there who don’t have it? Are they not men then?
So, by the way, where’s mom? Doesn’t she like us kids?
A temple president once told me that we should look to the temple for understanding the eternities. In the temple, women also hold a priesthood authority, but not the same priesthood authority as men. Given this, I have always anticipated that women will have the priesthood (indeed, endowed women do have the priesthood, in some sense) but that we should not look to it necessarily having the same tasks or authorities as that which men have.
To make the analogy direct, we might see women blessing women, perhaps conducting ordinances for girls, but not necessarily for men or boys, and not necessarily presiding over mixed ordinances (the sacrament).
What would be the response to these sorts of changes?
“Yes, as a descriptive matter, there are physiological differences between men and women. And yes, there are also a variety of socially constructed differences in the way that men and women interact with other people in society. So what?”
I would submit that the “differences in the way that men and women interact with other people in society” are primarily due to “physiological differences between men and women” and are not merely social constructs. Whether you think this has any implications for the priesthood is another matter. But surely someone who thinks that the differences in human interaction are socially constructed and mutable is more likely to be persuaded that the unequal distribution of priesthood is unnatural and unfair.
TMD, so why would it be ok for women to officiate over/for women and girls, and men could officiate over/for women and girls and not vice versa? it makes no sense. We have men speaking in our RS and YW conferences but I’ve never heard of a woman speaking in Priesthood. Why not? This is cultural, and societal, not a God -given doctrine.
I agree with Bonnie (87), our organization isn’t complete nor functioning at its optimal levels. Joe (84) Yes, if God told me I was wrong and He has his reasons, I’d say ok, teach me, help me understand. But God has to work through people, regular humans with all the blinders and prejudices of humanity. He won’t force us to learn, that’s the adversary’s plan. He will wait until we are ready to learn, ready to hear. So Bonnie, I disagree that the revelation won’t come through agitation, since it is only through agitation that that we can shake ourselves out of homeostasis that is no longer beneficial.
Meldrum (83) I really enjoyed your illustration. I asked my 19 year old about this post and he said he felt that if women held the priesthood, they would take it over, and further burden them, whilst the guys will end up doing nothing. Your illustration kind of demonstrates why he thinks that way. I haven’t raised girls, but anyone who has raised children sees how very different the sexes are, and how beautifully they complement each other. I seriously doubt the “God” runs the world on His own with only his fellow Priesthood helping Him out. No woman in sight? They’re just making babies? I doubt it.
Our temple ceremonies confirm that. Women already have the Priesthood, as far as I understand it isn’t any more limited than the men’s. We just dont have the authority to use it. Nor do we get fuller knowledge, which I believe is also traditional since in the past it has been men that have the responsibility of,”saving” their women. But guess what?! Not all women or men for that matter, have parents and spouces that can save them. Sometimes, many times, Mommies, sisters, doughters and wives need to do the saving. It isn’t ideal, but it’s reality. So even our temple ceremonies are incomplete…geared toward our level of understanding, acceptance and cultural norms. When we, as a body of the Church move forward, so will revelation. So I’m all with Alice and Dave and all the rest who have spoken up. I’ve see first hand what the imbalance of an all male authority leads to. It is tragic, and completely avoidable. Put the wives, daughters and mothers back into the picture instead of behond the scenes. We have a perspective that can help complete the picture. It is perfectly acceptable to petition the Lord, the Bretheren. We cannot bend God’s will but we can show him we are ready for the blessings of a more complete leadership.
As a side note, can anyone give me a scripture stating that women can’t officiate in the Priesthood? Obviously there are exceptions, again, because I was washed and annoyed in the temple by a woman, even given saving ordinances by a woman. Weren’t there women prophetesses? So what happened? Restoration of all things is apparently incomplete as well.
Washed and annoyed? Sounds like a great metaphor for Mormon feminism.
LOL, washed and anointed…that’s so sad…already washed and annoyed and I’m only getting started…For me the imbalance in our Church has only recently reared its lopsided head, unveiling real and painful unrighteous dominion. I don’t have penis envy, I want our Church to have checks and balances that protect and lift both sexes to their highest potential. I believe in this work, and I fight to keep my faith every day. It get’s a little difficult when clueless Priesthood authority won’t listen to educated, inspired, and righteous counsel because they are female…when I’m given Priesthood counsel that is contrary to true doctrine, and that counsel has been even given during general conference. I’m just grateful to have learned that there is still a place for women like me in the Church, that I can fast and pray and receive inspiration for my circumstances just as well as my leaders can.
Tali: I actually don’t care if it makes sense from the perspective of human thought. I’m perfectly happy with a few divine mysteries. It just strikes me that the way of god tends to surprise, and to respond in different ways and to different things than many human observers think. So, if I were to guess, then I would say that the pattern of the temple, rather than the pattern of the world, would be the way that women would most likely come to hold and use priesthood outside of the temple.
There are a few interesting things, here, too, though. Men are reordained to the MP in the temple as part of the initiatories. But, women can officiate in certain ordinances, for women. Its all a bit confusing…
You may not care, but I believe God DOES cares about the human perspective, just like I care about my children’s perspective, even if it is inexperienced. Yes, some mysteries in the mix are to be expected. It’s all a bit confusing because it it either incomplete, or we lack the experience to relate to it, most likely both.
If God doesn’t care enough to change things yet, it must not be worth my time to extrapolate doctrine. I think it’s a dangerous thing for one’s testimony, be it progressive or preservative extrapolation.
I go to church, and I feel the power of the Spirit while interacting with Men and Women, I come home from work and feel the Spirit while interacting with my spouse and children. The Spirit helps me recognize gifts of others and how they contribute. To be honest, this makes me pretty content. If I’m off-base, I hope our Heavenly Parents don’t condemn me at the last day. I doubt they will if they haven’t informed the terrestrial mouthpiece of something important enough to prevent exaltation. And that’s enough for me. But what do I know, I’m just a boy.
This is perhaps the most important thing that can be said about the priesthood: “that both genders are missing the boat trying to make the church more corporate and less discipleship; priesthood does not equal management, it is much bigger than that.”
psycho, ALL analogies are apples to oranges, if you refuse to acknowledge similarities. Analogies, by definition, involve comparing DIFFERENT things. You simply insist on claiming baptism and ordination as worlds apart because you don’t agree with the conclusion.
Actually, you did. You said:
***Until such time as God tells the prophet to change, neither I, nor my wife, nor my faithful friends feel a need for a change.***
In your statement, the “faithful” supposedly won’t even SEE a need for change, unless/until the PROPHET makes a change.
If God wants your wife to get better, he’ll do it (or have the prophet declare his desire). So giving her a blessing would make you, hmmm, what is it you call them? Oh yea, a MINO.
Except for the part where you forgot what you actually wrote. Remember, the faithful wait until the prophet does anything before they even SEE a need for it. If God wants your food blessed, he will do it himself.
Stephen Hardy #73:
Stephen, you are correct. They are.
I actually don’t mind psycho, because he makes me look so good. ;) The ad hominem (standard practice from his version of “faithfulness”) doesn’t bother me so much as the fact that I think he’s really a raving progressive just trying to make conservatives look really stupid. :)
My opinion aside, he’s been warned (by others) to return to civility or be banned. We’ll see how it plays out.
Blake, I assume you meant “give women the priesthood?” Is that correct?
If so, let me clarify. I don’t think there is such a duty. I think God can do whatever pleases him, whether I think it’s fair or nice or not. (I’ve written about that numerous times).
I would, however, like more than tradition to go on, more than a selective, undefined reading of when “man” is mankind and when it is just males, and some real, honest discussion and thought about how women are impacted by this stark underrepresentation — and how to remedy it within the confines of what God has actually required.
I agree. However, reading history of education, it seems to me that much of what you now see is not the result of long-term educational bias toward women but, rather, the results of an overcorrection from a long-held bias toward men.
Having very anecdotal experience homeschooling for 18+ years, I think education methodology that addresses individual concerns isn’t really that tough. One of the biggest problems, in my relatively uninformed opinion, is simply that having an atmosphere of RESPECT for students and SUPPORT for inquiry and learning is the key item missing in problematic systems.
In other words, giving students a chance to speak without condemnation and/or ridicule, allowing exploration without making mistakes a point of embarrassment, and without gender assumptions and putdowns, would make much greater strides than all the new programs. (My sister, for example, at Orem HIgh was told that teaching her calculus was a waste of the teacher’s time, because she was just going to go home and have babies. BTW, she has a master’s in math.)
Meldrum the Less (#83):
“Another story to illustrate a couple of points” or a fabricated story?
The way you write this supposed encounter between your daughter and her bishop, makes her look like an arrogant, judgmental creep. And the bishop, the wise, calm sage. (How do YOU know he “smiled meekly”?)
Did you intend that, or did it just come out that way? (Or is your daughter really that obnoxious? In all my years serving in YW, I’ve never seen even the most precocious girl who would be so overbearing and hateful.)
My response to your story is as follows:
(1) If you daughter really is that way, she’s incredibly out of the norm and her approach isn’t remotely symbolic of what most LDS women do.
(2) She isn’t that way and you used hyperbole to try to illustrate a point — and it fails on that count.
And isn’t it weird how apparently God only has that “higher love” in mind for women? I know, we need to rejoice when our husbands have sex with other women because we are so much more spiritual and nurturing. Or something.
I agree with you on #1, part of #2, #3, #5.
You continue to use similar phrases, but I’m not sure what you mean by this. Why would giving women a voice in church leadership be “more corporate”?
Of course it’s “bigger than that,” but in our church structure, priesthood absolutely encompasses management.
You stated that women aren’t ready for the priesthood in context of how much crafting they like to do. I now very few adult LDS women who aren’t miles more “ready” (by just about any criteria other than gender) thany single 12 year old boy I’ve ever known.
Then women and crafting isn’t relevant. Right?
Asking about female exclusion from the priesthood IS asking asking about female structure.
Cameron (96), I feel your comment shows a more dangerous attitude than extrapolating doctrine. That’s lovely you are content. I’m sure our Heavenly parents would never condemn you for contentment. But would they be condone that you enjoy your contentment idly while a percentage of your brothers and sisters are oppressed, and suffering? This discussion can bring about needed change, if nothing else, in opening our hearts to each other’s perspective. I feel there is room for improvement in Zion. Since we are not all yet lifted up to join Enoch’s city, I’m concluding the our Heavenly Parents may agree.
TMD on March 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm (Edit)
I don’t think this is a bad idea, but I will note that the “understanding” I got from the temple the first time I went through (in 1985) and in later ceremony revisions is quite different, particularly in regard to gender issues. Still, not equal (in the endowment and sealing), but MORE equal.
My response would be that it’s a step, but still an unexplained distinction. Why would women be deemed incapable or unworthy or unqualified to bless a man or preside over a man?
Tali (#91), thanks for the thoughtful post:
As I sit watching GC, and waiting for the second obligatory female speaker, I agree that this is an odd thing that has bothered me.
The “final word” in all general women’s meetings (both YW and RS) is always a man. Apparently we need the male voice to wrap things up. But the general priesthood meeting NEVER features a woman, in any speaking role.
Again, women are SO inherently different, but men don’t need to hear from us or learn our perspective?
I am a single, twenty-something, college-educated female. I don’t feel that I’m slighted because I don’t hold the Priesthood. I glory in my womanhood and the blessings I inherently possess as a daughter of God. As a Relief Society President, I am able to see just how much the men in the Church need the women, regardless of our lack of Priesthood authority. I am grateful to the men in the Church for their service and for their upholding of Priesthood Authority, but I don’t envy them that responsibility. The fact is gender roles DO exist, and they are divinely appointed. That we so often see an abuse of the differentiation between men and women is further proof that we as a people do not have the insight and knowledge that our Father in Heaven possesses. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. I understand why some people would compare the differences between men and women in the Church as an instance of a “separate but equal” philosophy, but ideas that don’t work while enacted under a worldly perspective can be beautiful in their truth and effectiveness when properly and divinely instituted. Although most of us are opposed to a dictator-lead communist society, we believe that one day we will be lead by Christ in living the Law of Consecration. Our inability to properly live divine law makes the law no less divine.
Yes, it did play out one sided but that isn’t my position or what I was saying. Joseph practiced plural marriage before he announced it. Joseph also facilitated the practice of polyandry by marring women who were already married. Why? Joseph died, had he lived would he have announced polyandry? That is what I suspect.
This line of thinking is so irritating to me. The idea that it’s “dangerous” to talk about problematic issues and that we should, rather, shut up and go back to our seats until God zaps something is so contrary to the teachings of the church and the pattern of revelation.
But, Cameron, just like psycho, I’ll ask you to let us know when you stop praying for help, stop giving blessings, etc. Remember, if God doesn’t care enough to do something, it must not be time. That should be “enough” for you.
I respect your opinion and am happy you feel content. My mom did, too, and she was a brilliant educated women, whom I love and admire. I hope you also respect the fact that many don’t feel the same contentment.
I agree men need women. But I don’t think our church structure reflects that.
I’m always curious why this is generally stated in such a way. When a boy is excited to become an elder, is he said to be “envious” of those of higher priesthood rank? When a man looks forward to becoming a deacon, does anyone say, “What?! Why do you want to be a bishop? Why are you seeking position?”
As I type, Elder Hales is talking about how preparing the sacrament makes the Aaronic Priesthood holder more Christlike. Why not couch this in the frame of a woman wanting to be more Christlike?
Given the further imbalance in plural marriage, what WERE you saying about how it makes us more selfless?
I know way more about plural marriage in the church than I need to. I realize he practiced polyandry, but I think the documentation is so scanty that it’s not remotely something that we can understand or explain.
If you want to say that you suspect we’re all supposed to live in some kind of marital united order — sharing with each other so everyone can get what they “need” while we all stand by dancing and singing about how happy we are that spouse x is getting the goods — then whatever.
You might be right, but there isn’t enough documentation to support anything like that.
And before you get in a huff about how I phrased that, think about the content rather than the tone. I don’t talk in a hushed whisper about my own sex life, so I will tend not to do it about sex in general either.
Allison, I’m sorry if I came across as callous or disrespectful of those who aren’t content with the current status of women in the church. I agree that we can’t be complacent and simply trust in blind faith to erase any misgivings we may have about doctrines or the church. The need for change and adaptation in the church and its members is evident by our dependency on continuous revelation. Joseph Smith’s struggles and questions about doctrines and the church led to its restoration. I thank you for bringing up issues that receive far too little attention. Maybe my ward is a little different than some, in that it is a singles’ branch far from Utah, and we tend to discuss things in our Relief Society lessons like our feelings about the Priesthood and women’s roles or how our views compare with traditional feminism quite often, but I’m sure some people don’t feel so comfortable discussing these issues in a Sunday setting, which is why these very sorts of discussions are so very important. :)
Let’s take the misogyny out of it by assuming both polygyny and polyandry. I’m saying to successfully live this way and be happy doing it you will need to transcend jealously and become much more selfless and loving. It’s a maturation process. Perhaps this sounds impossible to you but some people have done it. Your distant and apparently skeptical wording suggests you either don’t believe it is possible or you don’t just get it.
You didn’t seem disrespectful at all. I would love to hear some of your discussions. I would say that in many places, things like feminism and polygamy aren’t really welcome in Sunday meeting discussions. The possible contention and controversy aren’t the desired direction.
I’d say that’s probably true of the church administration, too. The manuals certainly tend not to address such issues head on.
Howard, I agree that living the way you suggest would require transcending jealousy, but I’m not sure it’s a more “mature” perspective.
Why don’t you think of something YOU think is immoral. Then hear someone tell you that you just need to “get over” your “selfishness” to live happily with it. For example, let’s say a 40-year old wants to “marry” your 10-year-old daughter. Is it more “mature” to get over your protectiveness and sense of propriety?
Back to polygamy, I can’t take the lopsidedness out of it. Because that’s what our doctrine (even current sealing doctrine) includes.
I’m going to shut this thread down in the next hour or so. I don’t have time to monitor it. If you have something you’d really like to say, do it now! :)
Alison surely becoming more Christ or HF entails becoming selfless.
Your point is? That men need to become Christlike by getting sacrament trays ready and women need to become Christlike by rejoicing when their husbands have great sex with other women?
I’d just like to say thank you. :)
No. Your #118 makes no sense, I asked you to assume BOTH polygyny and polyandry
Howard, after the reference of being Christlike from Hale, it appeared that’s what you were referring to. As I said earlier, you can assume both of polygyny and polyandry, but we don’t have enough on the latter to make it worth discussing as a doctrinal issue. In LDS history, the “selflessness” required to rejoice in apparent infidelity requires not only overlooking obvious moral teaching, but doing so with complete gender disparity. Again.
Ruth thank you for the kind words and your great comment (#105). I couldn’t agree more. :)
Thanks everyone for a great discussion.