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