In the years that I have been engaged in openly and publicly advocating for female ordination in the LDS church, one of the most common responses from men and women in the church comes along the lines of, “if you want extra meetings on Sundays, I’d gladly trade you,” or “I don’t know why you would want even more responsibility, women already do everything!” Never mind these statements are contradictory (do women in the church have more free time or less free time than the men, exactly?) it has never stopped being remarkable to me that this is what the Power of God on earth is reduced to when I express a desire to access it.
It’s funny because when I listen to or read talks from the “priesthood” session of conference, there is a different theme:
Brethren, our ordination to the priesthood is an invitation from the Lord to walk with Him. And what does it mean to walk with the Lord? It means to do what He does, to serve the way He serves. –Eyring, April 2017
Many things may help strengthen our younger brothers to rise up in the priesthood, but nothing will be more powerful than our helping them develop the faith and confidence that they can draw on the power of God in their priesthood service. – Eyring, October 2016
Think of this: the priesthood conferred upon us is the very same power and authority through which God created this and numberless worlds, governs the heavens and the earth, and exalts His obedient children. – Nelson, April 2016
Let’s please decide once and for all what being a Priesthood Holder ™ really means. It either means you have access to the Power of God and this edifies you and everyone around you, or it just means you have access to leadership positions in the church that take a lot of time and effort.
Maybe both? But then one or the other cannot be used to dismiss my desire to be a part of it.
To be clear, I’ll continue to advocate for access to it either way. Women need to stand with men shoulder to shoulder both spiritually and within the hierarchy, if the church is ever to achieve full gender parity. But, you should get your story straight.
I found it rather astounding that Elder Oaks response to OW was essentially that all callings are through priesthood keys that leadership graciously lets us borrow. It cheapened the idea that just having the priesthood is supposed to mean something to every worthy male. It strengthened the position and power of church leadership in the name of placating the feminists.my heart felt sad at the lengths we go to cheapen our basic doctrine so it won’t seem so obviously inequitable to women.
I agree with both of you
I am thoroughly convinced that the LDS priesthood is a social construct used to bring order to this Body of Christ. In and of itself it is powerless, a la D&C 121.
I support your desire to have the opportunities that men do, but I do NOT find it confusing that many of the men that do have access are wondering why? If you go beyond the flowery/beautiful descriptions of the priesthood seen in general conference (great examples in your post BTW), you will find that the roles and responsibilities that the priesthood generally bring are frustrating and bureaucratic. Meetings upon meetings with little action, discussing home teaching over and over, quorum meetings where you sit next to the same guy every week (don’t really know who he is) and listen to a teacher lecture you on the same stuff over and over. That is the day-to-day priesthood to your average priesthood holder.
Most of the time we are not so much a brotherhood of men called to make a difference, but a bunch of bored guys sitting next to each other and being preached at.
With that being said, the priesthood does open a lot of potential for ministry with its blessing and ordinances. It also has the structure to do many great acts of service and could be the mechanism by which we truly save one another. Those flares of spirit are few and far between, but they do happen on occasion. That is when the Power of God is made manifest, not because we have the priesthood, but because we acted as Christ would have us act.
My favorite article on the subject, while now dated, expresses what the Priesthood is quite clearly, Organizational Authority:
“…If, then, one may pray, may have his prayers answered, may have the Holy Ghost bestowed upon him, and may exercise many of its gifts, without holding any Priesthood, what is the place of Priesthood on the earth?
Chiefly Priesthood functions in connection with organization. That is, the greatest need of Priesthood is where there is a service to be performed to others besides ourselves.
Whenever you do anything for, or in behalf of, someone else, you must have the right to do so. If you are to sell property belonging to another, you must have his permission. If you wish to admit an alien to citizenship in our government, you cannot act without having been commissioned to
do so by the proper authority.
Now, a religious organization, or the Church, is in the last analysis a matter of service. You baptize someone, or you confirm him, or you administer to him in case of sickness, or you give him the Sacrament or the Priesthood, or you preach the Gospel to him — what is this but performing a service?
Now, when it comes to earthly power to perform a definite service, we call it the power of attorney in the case of acting legally for someone else, or the court and the judge where it is
a question of acting for the government.
But in the Church of Christ this authority to act for others is known as Priesthood.”
-Improvement Era, March, 1831, p.735
May our heavenly parents hear your plea. It’s about damn time.
I’m trying to think of way of expressing my thoughts without coming off as completely sexist, and not in the way you imagine. To give a little background, I am indeed LDS, I am a 44yo female active duty military Army LTC Anesthesiologist, speak fluent Spanish and German, have served in the Peace Corps, have 2 biological children and have 4 nieces& nephews living in my home, and my husband is the primary homemaker right now. I would consider myself a feminist, I am almost daily annoyed by gender inequalities at work; I would consider myself a feminist, however I DO NOT want the priesthood! Most of the people I consider friends are NOT LDS. I live in a small non-affluent community where “white” is not the dominant racial ethnicity, and there are plenty of weeds and empty lots and potholes, and every house looks different. Many women from all walks of life, whether single or married, with or without children, struggle with their relationships with MEN, specifically finding GOOD men, men that will be faithful to them, men that will do basic things like, be polite, not do drugs, not get drunk, not get arrested, not beat them, provide for them & their children. There are so many good women, and so few good men it seems. It is my belief that the priesthood gives men a purpose, something to strive for, it makes them better people, so this is the one thing I will not compete with them for. (Basically, because I know I don’t need it—-that’s the part that sounds sexist on my part. I think like most wives secretly know, I know that I can already do all those things that they “need the priesthood for.” Just as I believe that Heavenly Father answers the prayers of all good faithful people regardless of whether they are Mormon.)
Hope I haven’t offended all the priesthood holders with my explanation, I usually keep it to myself.