Mormon women and the priesthood, what do they want?

Mormon women and the priesthood

First, I want to be respectful of other views. Some LDS women want to be ordained to the priesthood and they have formed a group called “Ordain Women.” These Mormon women have asked for tickets to the Priesthood General Conference session for Saturday, April 5.

Last conference, “Ordain Women” voiced their desires at Temple Square, and this year they are planning to do it again. The LDS church has responded with a letter asking them to reconsider, but if the women choose to go forward, the church gave them location and guidelines. The women were invited to view the live broadcast of the priesthood session online at

I have looked at this from several perspectives. I have tried to put myself in these women’s shoes and consider their point of view. I want to sincerely understand their desires. But I do not feel compelled to join their group. I think they are good sisters, but may be seeing this from only one perspective. (As do those on the other side of this request.)

My initial reaction to women wanting the priesthood revolved around the conclusion that men and women are different, and thus we have different roles and callings in life.

But I have pushed my thinking further and tried to understand why women are not ordained.

I believe that women and men are equal in many ways, and are capable of fulfilling many roles. I appreciate women’s suffragette and equal pay and particpation in the workplace. I love to see men more involved in parenting and cooking and cleaning — teaching nursery and Primary. I like to have my babies with women doctors. I believe women in the church have valuable input in ward leadership meetings. Women are capable.

The “Ordain Women” supporters indicate that God wants everyone to have this power and spiritual authority of the priesthood. And they believe that it comes with ordination to the priesthood. I do not.

Wanting power is probably the wrong goal — be that men or women.

As long as it is God’s nature and character we are striving to emulate, and not His power and glory, we are on safe ground. As the apostle Peter recognized, the ‘precious and very great promises’ given to us are that we ‘may become participants of the divine nature.’

(Fiona and Terryl Givens, The God Who Weeps, p. 105)

That Divine nature is love and charity. It can be achieved without being ordained to the priesthood. I believe that endowed women have been given priesthood keys. Women cannot dispense the priesthood as men, but women can be endowed with power in the priesthood. What exactly does that mean? Perhaps this is what we should learn. Joseph Smith taught that the temple was necessary, for men (and women) to receive all the keys:

There must, however, be a place built expressly for that purpose, and for men to be baptized for their dead. It must be built in this central place; for every man who wishes to save his father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, must go through all the ordinances for each one of them separately, the same as for himself, from baptism to ordination, washing and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the Priesthood, the same as for himself.

(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p.362)


As a woman, what do I want to attain?

Like the brother of Jared, I want to see the Lord, receive the second comforter, to know that I am accepted.  Joseph Smith, as well as other leaders admonished us to seek the face of the Lord.  Must I be a man priesthood holder to obtain this great blessing? No.

I am not joining with these women because I do not want to put my ladder up against the building of the administrative Church on earth. I have put my ladder against the wall that will lead me to the veil, and into the presence of my Father and His Son.

Women are not excluded from these steps — baptism of water,  baptism of fire, seeing the Lord, receiving the second comforter, calling election made sure, translation, and celestial glory.

I want to help build Zion, and therefore I must become a Zion person. I believe I can do this without being ordained to the priesthood. I have entrance to the temple. I listen carefully to the endowment in the temple, I hear words that give me comfort and guidance for seeking the Lord’s presence. This is what I am seeking. I want to be like God in nature and character.

When Eve partook of the fruit, she chose to become like the Gods — knowing good and evil. This was the first step to become “as He is.” As far as we understand, Eve was not ordained to the priesthood, but shared in all the blessings of the priesthood as seen in the temple.

Where do women fit in?

Eliza R. Snow seemed to believe that Zion was the name of Eve before mortality — as Michael was the name of Adam before he awoke in the garden. If this is true, then the name “Zion” implies a character and nature of woman, beyond and above this crappy telestial world in which we live. (Women of Mormondom, pg 177)

women of mormondom

(Women of Mormondom, pg 177)

I believe in roles — and see this in the scriptures. Jehovah and Michael who helped design this earth became Jesus and Adam in mortality. Zion the godly woman became Eve. She fulfilled her role as did Adam. I believe she helped in the formation of this earth as well as other daughters of God.

When Jehovah was born as Jesus, He did not get to come in His glory and claim His Kingdom.  He had to fulfill his role, be spat upon, and wait until Zion.

Some women want to be ordained to the priesthood in this hell of a telestial world, but Eve may have agreed to take this role — of living on the telestial earth without priesthood ordination, like Christ’s first appearance — He came as Jesus, a man, not in His Glory as King. When Zion is built He comes as a King. Women’s role and glory may belong to Zion — that time and place may be the apostolic age of women. This world is too wicked for Zion — Zion the city and Zion the godly woman. It is too wicked for Christ to walk here. It’s a thought.

Who should be in charge in the telestial world?

Hypothetical: If I was in a pre-earth council and men were given the role and responsibility to head up the telestial world by holding the priesthood and acting as messengers and angels, and women were  saved from this custodial job until Zion and the terrestrial world is established  — should I complain? Would I request to be the custodian? Just a thought.

I’m willing to wait for a better world when I’ll be able to learn directly from the Lord.

In the symbolism of the scriptures, Christ is the bridegrrom who will come to Zion, the bride. Women represent Zion. Perhaps women, in their small earthly perspective miss the big picture — they want to serve as “priesthood holders” in this lowly kingdom instead of waiting for the second coming and Zion.  Perhaps that is the time and place.

This world is not good enough for that higher order of Enoch — where Zion will flourish — Zion the city and Zion the woman. I am content to let men be ordained to the priesthood in this bottom kingdom of wickedness. I appreciate their role to be holders of the priesthood in this mortal life. Maybe I should be more thankful. (Even though some abuse priesthood authority.)

After all, I am the recipient of all that the priesthood has to offer me to become like God.  I hope to be one of those people who are Zion in character and nature. Maybe as women, that should be our focus and perspective — to become Zion in character, seek the face of the Lord, commune with Him, build Zion and await our Bridegroom. Some things are beyond our understanding in our very mortal, wicked world.


Op-ed: Changing the church: How Ordain Women gets it wrong

As far as we know, scripture records men as the messengers and providers of the priesthood in this (bottom) telestial sphere:

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receive the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist


Receiving the aaronic priesthood

The High Priest

The high priesthood

Angel Gabriel appears to Zachariahs

The angel Gabriel appears to Zachariahs

  • u2Brutus

    I understand. Women want to wear the cool looking beast plate, with the jewels. Priesthood keys are needed to give the keys to others. However, women don’t need priesthood authority to use the keys. The fact that the church, as a whole, tends not to understand and/or pursue the “fullness” of the Priesthood is no reason that thoughtful women ought to seek to follow in mens footsteps. In my opinion, both men & women would do well to seek to use the priesthood keys as a source of personal power (to open the heavens, etc.) You have been taught the true order of prayer, use it. Those men who have the responsibility to administer the earthly affairs of the Church — also carry the weight of the responsibility for teaching correct principals. To the degree that — both men and women — are not fully instructed to exercise priesthood power (personally), there is potentially a price to pay.

  • Colleen

    It is interesting to note, that the link you give above, “Zion was the name of Eve before mortality,” says the following. Pg 29 of the book The Women of Mormondom, referring to Eliza Snow and Mother Whitney: “These are high priestesses! These are two rare prophetesses! These have the gift of revelation and ‘tongues!’ These administer in ‘holy places’ for the living and the dead.”
    I’d never seen this reference before.

    • I love that quote — thanks for pointing it out, how interesting that it came up like that on the link — a little confirmation and further light for us. The reference about the name Zion being the name for Eve is on pg 177 of that same book. I’ve had a hard copy for about 30 years and always heard that Eliza R. Snow was behind it. Claudia Bushman wrote a paper about the author that is interesting.

  • Adam Sorensen

    Power, position, authority and the honors of men are the vain things that the BofM warns us against.

    3 Nephi 6

    15 Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, TEMPTING THEM TO SEEK FOR POWER, AND AUTHORITY, and riches, and the vain things of the world.

    I like what you said here: “Women are not excluded from these steps — baptism of water, baptism of
    fire, seeing the Lord, receiving the second comforter, calling election
    made sure, translation, and celestial glory.”

    This is true. Woman are entitled to all these blessings from the Lord. I have seen these fruits in my life and I praise and thank God for great woman of faith. My mom was able to see the face of the Lord and was commanded by the Lord to share it with her children as they were prepared to receive it. Her faith and testimony has been a great strength to me. It has given me confidence that I too may obtain those blessings.

    The Lord has told me that woman, along with the men, will perform great miracles in the days to come. God’s power will be poured out on men and woman of faith.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, and that of your mom’s — what a great blessing for you and your family. It’s reassuring to know that these blessings are obtainable in our mortal life — I feel an excitement in the air for those who have ears to hear.

      • Adam Sorensen

        Yes, great and marvelous things are about to take place

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  • Jeffrey Richardson

    One thing I have studied is how/where do we obtain priesthood? I think ordination by man is a part of it, but historically this has not always been the case.

    Lehi, for example, was not a Levite, and therefore was not “allowed” to offer up sacrifices. But, he did. How so? In the first chapter of 1 Nephi we also learn that He came into the presence of God? How so, if that requires priesthood?

    I believe because Lehi came into contact with God directly he was given Priesthood in his own right. Joseph said:

    “All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion that brought Moses to speak with God face-to-face was taken away, but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All prophets have the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God himself.”

    In the JST of Gen 14 we read:

    “27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
    28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
    29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.”

    This says it came “not by man” but was delivered directly by “the calling of his own voice.”

    We see the same thing again in modern times when we read in DC 84: 42:

    “42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.”

    Like JST Gen 14, it came by “mine own voice out of the heavens.”

    And lastly, Helaman 10: 3-10 tells of the Lord, again speaking from the Heavens, giving Nephi priesthood power.

    So it seems that it’s one thing to be ordained by man and it’s another to receive the actual power directly from God. Sometimes, this can be done independently of an institution.

    But what of women?

    Another way to view priesthood besides “the authority to act in Gods name” is by seeing it as a personal relationship. When we think of a brotherhood (or sisterhood) we think of interaction, speaking with one another, seeing one another. So, priesthood is like a brotherhood (or sisterhood) but priestly.



    I say it can be viewed as a personal relationship, but Joseph specifically calls it a “channel”:

    “There are two Priesthoods spoken of in the Scriptures, viz., the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical. Although there are two Priesthoods, yet the Melchizedek Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, and is the grand head, and holds the highest authority which pertains to the priesthood, and the keys of the Kingdom of God in all ages of the world. . . and is the CHANNEL through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven.”

    Is not a “channel” a personal relationship?

    Mary, Jesus’ mother, communed with angels. Is that then a relationship with the other side of the veil? Mary, Jesus’ companion, was the very first person Jesus visited with. Is that then a relationship with the other side of the veil? Would that be priest-hood?

    To officiate in the Church, women do not have priesthood in that sense. But with the other side of the veil, which is how real priesthood power is obtained, is another story.

    ** One last thought. God gave Adam AND Eve coats of skin, which in the temple is the garment of the Priesthood. And in Moses 5 we read:

    “4 And Adam AND Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and THEY heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto THEM, and THEY saw him not; for THEY were shut out from his presence.

    5 And he gave unto THEM commandments, that THEY should worship the Lord THEIR God, and should offer the firstlings of THEIR flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam (Adam being both Adam and Eve) was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.”

    • Jeffrey — I appreciate you sharing these scriptures and insight with me. It seems quite clear from those references. Hugh Nibley has said this about the temple ordinances — “The ordinances are mere forms. They do not exalt us; they merely prepare us to be ready in case we ever become eligible.” And I would say that they are not for when you are dead so you can pass your way to the celestial Kingdom — but they are for now, as the temple is supposed to connect us to God while we live down here.

      It seems that priesthood ordination is like all the other ordinations — performed here on earth, but activated by God Himself. Which is a little sad to realize that few there be that have actually receive this from God (or Jesus Christ, as I believe He oversees this — but actually, this earth is a telestial one, and the Holy Ghost seems to be the one designated for this type of kingdom for most communications, but that’s another topic.) Anyway, thanks for pointing this out.

      You quoted Joseph about the priesthood — “and is the CHANNEL through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven.” I thought about that channel and it may be more than inspiration (although I dont discount the HG at all) — but could it be like the personal urim and thummim we can receive along with our own portal (channel) that connects us to God? Just stretching my mind here. Good points all around. I wrote a post about the coat of skins — did you read that one?

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