There was a time not so long ago when only priesthood holders could offer sacramant meeting prayers. Priesthood blessings were said unequivocally to be more efficacious than ordinary prayer. And the priesthood may have even enabled those who held it to more appropriately interpret scripture and other sacred text than non-priesthood-holders.
For some, that time has never ended. But in many stakes women now pray in sacrament meeting, and it is frequently asserted that a woman’s desperate plea is surely as efficacious as a priesthood blessing. Suggestions to the effect that spiritual promptings come more abundantly to priesthood holders may sound like so much silliness.
Nevertheless, there’s a certain logic to all such doctrine: if priesthood ordination is meaningful, why would it not entail the bestowal of increased spiritual gifts and better access to heaven? Why should a woman’s prayer effectively call on the powers of heaven with equal force to that of a priesthood holder?
What’s changed is obviously that it can no longer be taken for granted that women are not full members of the community. Has this shift in thinking resulted in an attenuation of our concept of priesthood, in an effort to make the situation appear more “fair”? Does priesthood mean less than it used to in order to downplay the now less explicable fact that spiritual authority is restricted by sex?
And will this trend (if such it is) continue into the future? Rather than ordaining women, will the Church instead one day indicate that the priesthood has little significance as women are called upon to fill roles and administer ordinances previously restricted to priesthood holders?
- 4 May 2008