Why are women not ordained? Does their lack of ordination make them an oppressed population?
I have been thinking about this topic for some time now, even before I decided to start this blog. I’ve been from one end of the spectrum to the other, puzzling it out in my mind. Before I delve into my thoughts and things that I’ve learned in the past months but especially the past week, let me first say that I don’t know. I don’t know why women do not hold priesthood keys or authority. That being said, let me share what I have learned on this topic, especially in regards to equality.
I should begin by saying that much of what I will say was at least influenced by one or both of two sources, though in some cases they simply put into words what I was already thinking. The first, is my older sister, who has done a lot of research and discussion with the Lord. The other source is a talk given by Sheri Dew at Time Out For Women 2012.
I said before that I do not know why women do not hold priesthood keys or authority. It should be noted that I did not say “the priesthood.” Women have every bit as much access to priesthood power as men, especially those who are endowed. Women are barred from no spiritual gift that men can enjoy. The power of the priesthood is no exception. The only requirement for using this power is that you be righteous. Gender does not matter. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said it this way: “Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness…-in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord.” Despite this truth, many men and women fail to properly recognize it. Men sometimes can feel that they are in a position of superiority, and women sometimes believe them. Not so.
What I say now, I offer as my opinion, and is not Church doctrine. The rest of the priesthood- specifically keys and authority- are meant to help men get to where women already are. Think about this. Why is it that men must hold the priesthood in order to enter the temple, while women need only be worthy to enter? What does that tell us about the role of the priesthood for men? I’ll tell you that for me, priesthood keys and authority have never made feel superior to women. However, they have made feel like I might be able accomplish as much as women. All the women in my life are naturally organized, charitable, and willing to give of their time and talents. They are some of the best people I know. I and I daresay most men, lack these qualities naturally. They can be obtained learned, and one doesn’t necessarily need the priesthood to learn them. However, when I was serving in my home ward in the presidency of the various quorums (understand, I am not tooting my own horn here- these were not positions that I aspired to), I, and my fellow presidency members often were shown what the presidencies of the young women classes were doing. Often I would see these presidencies reaching out to other young women, and loving them. We had a really hard time doing this with our young men. I had a really hard time doing this. I had a hard time caring. I found that by the time I was a priest, I had learned, though not quite enough yet, how to reach out to other young men and… fellowship them. I could at least help them feel wanted, which is more than I could say when I was a deacon. But I did, and still have a long way to go to get to where my female contemporaries were when we were 12.
What I’m saying is that the priesthood is a means for men to learn how to do things and BE things that women inherently are. It forces us to look beyond ourselves, since we can only use it to benefit others. It forces us to learn how to love and how to organize, how to look for the needs of others, and do what we can to help them. Women, you are born with these traits! Yes, they still have to be developed, just as all talents and traits have to be, but it is a gift that you are given. I’m not suggesting that women have it better than men, or that men are victims of some sort. No, men also have their strengths that they are born with. We just need a little more help it our quest to have Christlike love, and achieve exaltation. The priesthood is not to make men better- its to help us be equal with women.
Okay, that all was definitely my opinion, not Church doctrine. I struggled to find the right words there, and none of it was meant to offend anyone. My opinion has been influenced by many people, and I’ve had the above opinion for some time, though my sister and the talk by Sheri Dew helped to put it into words.
Sheri Dew used a quote in her talk that I thought was particularly relevant.
“The blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone. These blessings are also poured out upon…all the faithful women of the Church…The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by His sons.” -President Joseph Fielding Smith
I thought that these quotes were excellent and informative. Both of these men who are prophets, seers, and revelators, are prime examples of how the Priesthood of God views women: Equal.
In conclusion, I will reiterate in short terms what I’ve been getting at with this whole post- men and women are equal in God’s eyes, and in the eyes of the Church, and the priesthood is what makes it possible for men to be on equal footing with women.