Another note: I intended to reply to several comments on my last post, but I want to be very thoughtful in my responses and school has left me little time to devote to my blog. Again, I’m reading and considering all of them, but these posts are quite time intensive to write, edit, etc, and so I’m not going to be able to address as many comments as I’d like. Thank you to all those who are taking the time to add to the discussion. It’s been a wonderful experience thus far.
The topic of women getting the priesthood in the LDS church has come up quite frequently on my Formspring page. Questions related to this issue can be found here, here, and here. As I change, it’s hard not to want to feel embarrassed about what I said, but back then I really believed it and felt it was right. I think what I said here was key:
But for me, this is never an issue, because I feel like it’s asking “Why can’t I have more responsibility in life?” I don’t know about you, but I have more than enough responsibility. There are a million areas that I want to be better at already, and heaping the job of cleaning the church each week isn’t going to make me feel happier or draw closer to God. That will happen through praying, reading scriptures, etc.
I didn’t understand those who wanted women to have the priesthood, because in my mind they were saying that they wanted to be the bishop. Why would anyone want that? If God wants someone to lead one of His congregations that is certainly a great honor, it’s time-consuming, emotionally exhausting, and makes spending time with family difficult because you’re working full-time at your job while simultaneously managing a church congregation.
One day I clicked over to Feminist Mormon Housewives, and it all clicked with this post. These women aren’t asking for the priesthood, they want the priestesshood. They want something of their own, a direct way to conduit the power of God for righteous purposes. It was brought up on that site in 2010, and way back in 2005.
Wow. This is something I can believe in. A Heavenly Father and Mother who are their own Beings, separate, but truly equal. During our time on earth, my husband would be a priest, and I would be a priestess. We would exercise the power of God in our own ways bringing about good works and changing the world for the better.
An article in Sunstone titled “A Gift Given: A Gift Taken” helped me finally come around to my new position of advocating for the priestesshood. I was shocked to realize that advocating for the priestesshood isn’t introducing something new, it is asking for women to be given back what they already had.
Imagine, you are in labor. The contractions are coming fast and strong, and you’re experiencing some very intense back labor. Instead of calling your home teacher, a man you are only mildly comfortable with anyway (least of all when sweating and panting while half-dressed through the pain) you call your visiting teachers. Quickly, an group of women is assembled. They visit you, these women who understand your pain, and lay their hands upon your head and bless you. You feel uplifted, supported, and strengthened by the collective wisdom and empathy in the group.
During the time of Joseph Smith, women did this. And when he was asked how he felt about it, he replied:
“there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing . . . there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water.”
In the Sunstone article referenced above, Linda King Newell writes:
There is considerable evidence within the minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society Meetings to suggest that Joseph Smith seemed to envision the Relief Society as an independent organization for women parallel to the priesthood organization for men.
When I study this idea out (by reading within the documents published about such meetings), take it before God and try to puzzle out what He might be trying to tell me about it, I feel good. This idea of a parallel organization is beautiful to me, and I believe it is beautiful to God as well.
Imagine the uproar that would commence in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today if women were laying their hands on the sick and calling down the power of God for them to be healed. Such acts are certainly not equated with wetting the face with water anymore. But not that long ago women were speaking in tongues, laying their hands on the sick and healing them, and using their own form of God’s power in the temple.
Regarding my previous statements made on Formspring and elsewhere about this topic: I personally still don’t want the priesthood. However I have come to agree with the Catholic who suggested that women being excluded from the priesthood is a product of patriarchy rather than divine ordinance, which is also evident in the history of the Mormon church. I don’t want the priesthood, but I do hope that God does again restore the priestesshood to His church:
I hope to lay my hands on my husband’s head and speak to God about what he needs.
I hope to lay my hands upon the heads of my children, blessing them before school, big events, when they are ill.
I hope to be called to visit teach women who I will commune with and bless.
I hop a group of women surround me before I give birth (walk through the valley of the shadow of death), a group of women who have been what I have been through and can reach out to God pleading for what I need most.
I hope to gather my family around me before I die, bless my sons and daughters and grandchildren with the power of the Priesesshood, bear testimony to them of the things I hold most dear, and leave this world for the next, where I know my Heavenly Parents will be waiting.