Zelophehad’s Daughters

Ten Reasons for Women to Hold the Priesthood

Posted by Lynnette

Times & Seasons has been having a very lively conversation about women and the priesthood (see here, here, here, and here. I’d like to add my two cents (or ten cents, as the case may be), by proposing some reasons why I think it would be good for women to be ordained.

1) I often hear the concern that there isn’t enough priesthood leadership in many places to sustain a lot of church units. If women held the priesthood, that could help with the situation.

2) Women with families who had non-Mormon or inactive husbands (or no husbands at all), could have the priesthood in their home. If a mother, for example, wanted a blessing for her child in the middle of the night, she could do it herself.

3) Single women, who currently don’t have much of a place in the church set-up, could have more of a role.

4) Women would have more opportunities to develop their spiritual gifts.

5) One of the problems with an all-male leadership at the highest levels of the church is that they invariably miss things that are more likely to occur to women. Take, for example, the emphasis on modesty (a problem from a male point of view) versus body image and eating disorders (problems from a female point of view.) Which one gets more airtime?

6) We know from D&C 121 that once men get a little authority, it’s likely to go their head, leading to unrighteous dominion. I’m not at all suggesting that this wouldn’t be a problem for women as well–but in the current setup, women bear the brunt of unrighteous dominion.

7) If priesthood makes men into better fathers, couldn’t it also make women into better mothers?

8) Young Women wouldn’t have to discuss personal sexual issues with male leaders. In addition, women dealing with church courts wouldn’t be dealing with an all-male council judging them.

9) Women are regularly praised for their special qualities, such as compassion, empathy, and spirituality. Why wouldn’t we want people with those gifts in leadership positions?

10) Having women in a position to act in the name of God would underscore the doctrine that women, too, have a divine nature. It would also be a powerful image for girls growing up in the church.

 

20 Responses to “Ten Reasons for Women to Hold the Priesthood”

  1. 1.

    The quoterator quote next to this post as I’m reading it is “In the end, as usual, I’m in charge.” -Lynnette

    This just seems apropos.

  2. 2.

    You know me well. Give me a little power, and I’ll take over the world. And demand pie from my subordinates.

  3. 3.

    Okay, a few comments:

    1) Agree

    2) This one I’m not convinced — are we sure there’s a quantifiable difference in results between a “priesthood blessing” and a simple prayer of faith from a mother praying fervently for her sick child? If we’re dependent on the grace of God to begin with (that is, laying hands on the head and using the word “priesthood” isn’t an ancient, mystical incantation that magically leads to better results) then I’m not sure giving women the priesthood is going to equal “more healed children” (if that’s the point you’re getting at).

    On the other hand, if you’re thinking of this as a placebo for the woman, so she’s more comforted and confident that her child will be okay (even when the odds are the same), then that’s another issue entirely…

    3) I don’t understand this one — single women already have more of a place in the Church than single men (who are largely treated as pariahs unworthy of respect, despite having the priesthood). What ‘roles’ are you thinking of here?

    4-7,9,10) Agree

    8) Young women wouldn’t *always* have to discuss personal sexual issues with male leaders, but unless you’re advocating replacing the all-male leadership with an all-female leadership, many young women are still going to have male priesthood leaders.

    And of course, many young men will now be expected to discuss their personal sexual issues with their new female priesthood leaders. Won’t we have the same complaint from them, or their parents? (“I’m not allowing *her* to query my son about the details of his masturbation problem in private…”)

    Since priesthood leaders are always going to have to handle the young men AND young women in any ward or branch, adding female priesthood leaders doesn’t actually solve this problem — it just transmutes it from something that only young women today face into something that half of young women and young men will face, depending on the gender of their bishop.

    (And it’s not just the young men — would a man with a pornography problem feel comfortable talking about the details with a female bishop? What if he wasn’t? And if we’re telling the men in the church with a female bishop to “just deal with it”, then shouldn’t we be telling (young) women with a male bishop to do the same? What’s the difference?)

    I think #8 is a larger issue that just giving women the priesthood doesn’t exactly address.

  4. 4.

    KMB–Regarding #3: I agree that women can offer up powerful prayers. But if there’s no quantifiable difference, why would we ever ask for a blessing? Is it like a flow chart: Is the person sick? If no, stop. If yes, is there a man present? If yes, is he a priesthood holder? Then he should administer a blessing. If no, he should grab his home teachers for a blessing. If there is not a man present and only a woman present, then a simple prayer will carry the same power.

    You do bring up an interesting point about men having to confess to women. Could this be solved by keeping things same-sexed? Women discussing with women, men with men?

  5. 5.

    KMB, thanks for the feedback! I think some of my reasons are better than others, so it’s helpful to have someone else chime in.

    This one I’m not convinced — are we sure there’s a quantifiable difference in results between a “priesthood blessing” and a simple prayer of faith from a mother praying fervently for her sick child?

    I’ve wondered about that one too. On the one hand, it seems odd for God to give special recognition to priesthood blessings, as opposed to a prayer of faith—as you say, we’re all dependent on grace. But on the other hand, if there really isn’t a significant difference between the two, why bother with the priesthood?

    I don’t understand this one — single women already have more of a place in the Church than single men (who are largely treated as pariahs unworthy of respect, despite having the priesthood). What ‘roles’ are you thinking of here?

    That’s a really good point, that single men are judged much more harshly than single women, and having the priesthood hasn’t ameliorated that. I think this was coming out of my frustration at being told over and over that I have the special power of motherhood, which is why I can’t have the priesthood—except that as a single woman, I have neither. But I need to think through that more, in terms of what it would mean on a practical level.

    Since priesthood leaders are always going to have to handle the young men AND young women in any ward or branch, adding female priesthood leaders doesn’t actually solve this problem — it just transmutes it from something that only young women today face into something that half of young women and young men will face, depending on the gender of their bishop.

    Yeah, I agree that this female ordination on its own doesn’t really get us anywhere, at least in terms of this problem. I think I was imagining some kind of situation where you had a couple serving in a bishop role, so people would have the choice of which person they felt more comfortable with. Or maybe just having the RS president play that role for women would be an option (though that wouldn’t require ordination, so it’s not really the strongest point on my list.)

  6. 6.

    I love this, Lynette. Well done.

    And #7 is the biggie for me. When men use the priesthood as intended: to love and serve their brothers and sisters, they become more frequent partakers of what are traditionally “female” qualities. If women were also offered the priesthood, they would become partakers of traditionally “male” qualities: social and cultural religious leadership position, real authority and decision-making power within the church.

    Shared priesthood has potential to help bring us all into greater one-ness with Jesus Christ via his power and purpose.

  7. 7.

    I don’t want the priesthood, but I don’t care if you guys do.

    Matt Bowman’s book talks about women giving blessings and how that was lost in the LDS progressive movement, I think that was it. It just sounds so lovely.

    I love the washing and anointing for that reason. There’s something so nurturing and kind about it.

  8. 8.

    Good stuff.

  9. 9.

    Thanks so much for such a simple, undiluted explanation here of some of the benefits. This is all just common sense.

  10. 10.

    In conjunction with 2/3, female ordination would be a serious perk for gay sisters, too. I still don’t know which side of the discussion I’m leaning towards, but since there’s not really going to be any male priesthood in my home any time soon, that argument could sure sway me.

  11. 11.

    1. Along the same lines, baptisms for the dead would be easier if women could also perform and witness the ordinances (though why it requires the priesthood to make check marks on little pieces of paper is another question). There would be a huge increase in missionary work if women were included in the group with a priesthood duty to serve missions.

    3. It seems likely that a husband and wife would be called together to serve in leadership position (as mentioned in comment 5). In that case, the actual role of single women might not be affected much, though getting rid of the problematic idea that men get priesthood and women get motherhood would be great.

    Often I hear sexist rhetoric or policies from earlier errors attributed to the prevailing culture (rather than being actively directed by God). For example, I was taught in a lesson that Paul’s position on the role of women in the church was comparatively progressive, and we can’t expect him to have radically departed from the cultural practices of his time. This argument can only be true if church policies continue to be progressive, or at least not lag behind, the culture in which they exist. Now American culture generally recognizes the value of equal representation of men and women in leadership positions. If the church doesn’t go along with this shift in culture, then it will send the message that God has always wanted women to be subordinate. In other words, maybe Romney should take some of those binders of his to Salt Lake City.

  12. 12.

    I have always asked myself this question when there is a court held (Bishopric or High Council courts) shouldn’t there be a woman present? A woman may have an in sight or inspiration much different from a male’s perspective. I maybe more inclined to go talk out my serious trangressions if there was a female (with authority) present.

  13. 13.

    Very nice list. OK, here’s a suggestion for #11. Today I sang with a male quartet in sacrament meeting. The bishopric counselor thanked the priesthood for the musical number. I’m not sure what my holding the priesthood had to do with my singing, but I guess we could conclude that if women had the priesthood they could sing in sacrament meeting too. Sheesh!

  14. 14.

    Re: #8 – This is the main reason I support a dual-track “Relief Society with Priest(ess)hoold” model.

    The fundamental reason women need to counsel/confess to men is because of the priesthood/Judge in Israel framework. Acknowledging/formalizing women’s priesthood roles outside of the temple would empower RS Presidencies to serve as judges (Deborah, anyone?) and have the same sacral roles as bishops/stake presidents.

    Bishops/Stake Presidents/First Presidents would then “co-preside” the Church with Ward/Stake/General Relief Society Presidents under the same model we seem to be pushing within families. And it would also make wives explicitly “spiritual co-equals” with their husbands (both have priesthoods), so that they can formally co-preside as well.

  15. 15.

    Excellent list — I agree with you on every point.

  16. 16.

    This is the main reason I support a dual-track “Relief Society with Priest(ess)hood” model.

    The problem with this idea is that it works against the unified aspect of having a unisex priesthood in the first place.

    The best and most powerful argument for female ordination is the “we’re all in this together” aspect. That is: it’s everyone’s Church, and both men and women should work together in all things to lead, preside, and enlighten their families and congregations regardless of gender.

    However, believing in the idea that men are not capable of being counselor and judge over women because they Just Don’t Understand (and vice versa) isn’t “We’re All In This Together” any more, it’s “Us vs. Them” / “Mars vs. Venus”, which undercuts the primary argument for giving women the priesthood in the first place (a unified and gender-neutral Church).

    If men and women are equally capable of being leaders over other men and women without regard to gender, why shouldn’t this apply even to personal issues like the repentance process?

    The “dual-track” idea is enticing, but I believe it is a trap — something that will create a more segregated and divided Church than a unified one. Perhaps one of the “sacrifices” women will be asked to make if/when they receive the priesthood is to put aside the Men Just Don’t Understand complaints and be more fully accepting of men as their own personal priesthood leaders when circumstances dictate, even when it makes them uncomfortable. (Since, of course, they will be expecting the men to do the same with their new female leaders).

  17. 17.

    KMB, I’m going to hazard a guess that you’ve never been a young woman sitting on the other side of a bishop’s desk, where said bishop is much older, and gruff, and considers most of the youngish women in his ward “hormone-driven temptresses” to his righteous priesthood holders (and probably to himself).

    There’s not a lot of “repentance process” that gets worked out in a scenario like that… it’s more like “condemnation process”.

    The way things are currently set up is already too often “Us vs. Them”. The oppressors just don’t recognize the oppressed as such.

  18. 18.

    […] General Conference actually worked!! Since women are now keeping the missionary force afloat, can priesthood for women be far behind? Some of the obstacles hard to get […]

  19. 19.

    There really is a precedent for “dual track” in the Priesthood, and it’s shown in the Temple. There are separate workers for the sisters and brothers, yet the service they perform is equal. Actually, in my mind, it is also that example which tells me that perhaps the only thing actually holding women back from holding the Priesthood otherwise may be that the membership/society has not shown itself ready for that step…or maybe has not asked and knocked in sincerity, looking for an answer. It seems we are doing that now. Just my opinion, of course. Thoughts?

  20. 20.

    Dear Lynette and all~

    This is wonderful news! I think you are definitely on the right track. I applaud your strength and wisdom to fight the “male run” organization known as the LDS church. I left many years ago for lots of reasons, but mostly the male run church, their high ideals (sometimes are not spot on) and the way they “rule” over the members (esp. in times of crisis for families). They are not God, and never will be…period. Many of the decisions they make would be softened or perhaps much different with a female influence. We are behind them all the way anyway — if we are their spouses, parents, siblings, right? We can serve our country in the military, we can serve the church in missions all over the world, but we cannot partake of the many important positions that rule our daily lives as Mormon women. I wish you the very best of luck in winning this challenge. A few things to remember…when I was young the church would never allow black members, that has since been changed to allow for more countries to be served by missionaries and to broaden the church membership. That was a tough one to win, but no tougher than this awesome challenge…God bless you all~

Leave a Reply