08 Feb

The Awakening: Priestesshood

Posted by Jenna, Under Personal

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.

 

145 Comments


  1. Dear Jenna, I want to share these Bible verses with you: Galatians 3: 26 – 29. Obviously I’m not Mormon and according to the Bible I don’t believe men carry priesthood. Jesus is the only high priest. However if you have faith in Jesus, then you have authority in Him to do all those things you just mentioned! Men, women, children, everyone of all ages. Great post.

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  2. A friend and I were just discussing this exact issue. I think it’s very interesting and quite thought-provoking. I’m not 100% sure where I come down on it, simply because I haven’t really thought about it in great depth.

    In some ways, I think that women already have these powers – except for the obvious laying on of hands. I pray together with the sisters that I visit teach, I pray with my husband when he is ill, I imagine that I’ll offer prayers for future children at the time of life events. I can’t say that I have felt a strong desire to lay hands on others – again, simply because I haven’t thought about it. That being said, when I have participated in giving ordinances to women in our church, it has been a profoundly moving experience. I really can’t imagine feeling anything but welcoming of the opportunity to participate in an organization that would theoretically exist under this model.

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    Jenna Reply:

    I certainly don’t feel a strong desire to take on more responsibility (I’m inherently lazy), but when I think about my friend who is about to give birth, I feel this really strong desire to be the one to lay my hands on her and minister to her, instead of calling a man who could never possibly understand what she is about to go through (there’s a reason they call it “a walk through the valley of the shadow of death”). And what about T1 being really sick (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen), it would be so wonderful to share in the responsibility of blessing him and seeking out the inspiration of God as I search for the words to say.

    When men say that the words “come to them” when they are laying their hands on another… I have no idea what that means. And I would like to.

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    Senora H-B Reply:

    I can definitely see your point with these situations. I just hadn’t thought about it – but I guarantee you that I will be!

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    AmyLynne Reply:

    I also understand what you’re saying, Jenna, but since when is being able to understand exactly what one is going through a prerequisite to being able to give a blessing? The LORD knows what we are going through, and so, in theory, any man close to the Spirit should be able to say the right things. Both times I’ve been in labor, I’ve asked my husband for a blessing and felt sufficiently comforted. It’s also been a true testimony of the Spirit when I’ve asked someone that doesn’t maybe understand what I’m going through to give me a blessing, and then being told exactly what I need to hear. Because it reminds me who the blessing is coming from in the first place.

    On the other hand, prayers can be especially meaningful when someone understands what you need, specifically. So in that regard, I do see what you’re saying. I’m sure you could meet with your friend, and have a wonderful prayer together.

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    TB Reply:

    I liked this comment.

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    emily kate Reply:

    This is a really great point, Amy.

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    Rebecca Reply:

    Yes, I agree. I think that developing faith is such an important part of what we are here to learn and receiving blessings that have really hit home by a priesthood holder who could have no other way to know what I needed except through divine inspiration, has really strengthened my faith in Jesus and Heavenly Father and has helped me to know that my prayers are often answered through others who are trying to live their lives close to God. These blessings have made me feel how loved I am and how aware God is of me.

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  3. I guess I’m confused.

    Because even though I didn’t grow up knowing anything really about any church or really the Bible..I was always under the assumption that God works through all of us, giving each of us the power to do the things you mentioned in your post. Not just a select few.

    So are you saying that the only person who can bless your son (for example) are those who hold a priesthood, as of right now? If so, that just doesn’t sit right with me.

    What kind of movement needs to happen in order to get this rolling? Do you think it is something you’ll see in your life time, or even your children’s?

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    Jenna Reply:

    We rely on what are known as Priesthood blessings to provide comfort, healing, and as a way for God to talk to us through the voice of another. For instance when someone is very sick, a priesthood holder will anoint them with oil and lay their hands on their head and bless them. Sometimes they will say the person will be healed. Sometimes they say the person will be comforted.

    For now in the LDS Church, only men can do this.

    Women can certainly pray, and do, but it’s a different experience altogether to be the one who is administering.

    There is also a tradition before each school year for father’s to give a blessing to their children by laying their hands on their head and speaking about the coming year. I would like an avenue to do the same.

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    TB Reply:

    you have that avenue. It’s called Prayer.

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  4. I’m not Mormon, so our beliefs are very different.
    But I believe in what the Bible calls the Priesthood of the Believer… that’s me, that’s my husband, that’s our son, and I pray that one day it will be our daughter. We ALL have the power of Jesus in us, and He speaks and tell us how and when He wants us to use it. I absolutely lay hands on my children and pray for them when they’re ill. My prayers are just as powerful as my husbands, and I’ve every bit God’s child… just like he is.

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    Jenna Reply:

    I don’t think God values men and women any differently either :)

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    Chelsea Reply:

    I will point out… because I don’t think any one has said this… I believe Men & Women are equal in the sight of God, but not that we’re MEANT to do the same jobs. I have the exact same power of the Lord in me that my husband does, but God has made men & women different, and therefore better suited to different leadership roles in the church. We can approach Him the same, pray the same, bless the same, heal the same. But the way we’re meant to interact with OTHERS is different… or at least, the way that I interpret the Bible, I believe our leadership roles to be different.
    “Equal but different” has always been hard for humans, I think. If we’re different than someone, it’s easy to assign a “better or worse” mindset to those differences. But I’m so SO happy to read that you’re recognizing that your power in the Lord… although different than TH’s… is no less.

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    Senora H-B Reply:

    Chelsea, I really liked this comment. That’s all. :)

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    Katie Reply:

    I’m not LDS, although I do read quite a bit about it (and other relgions). I have never understood the argument that women’s roles are “different, but equal” within the Church. Then what is the female equivalent of a bishop, or Church president? Women only ever hold authority over those under them- possibly other women, and children. Never men.

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    Jenna Reply:

    There is none.

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  5. Does LDS doctrine teach that your prayers and blessings that you give right now (without an “official” preiesthood calling from the LDS church) are null and void? Do you think that any prayer that you have prayed over your son up until now hasn’t been heard unless TH has given an official, priesthood holder’s blessing? What is the difference you are expecting to feel in the power of your words (in the form of a blessing) that an “official LDS” sanction of the priestesshood would give you?

    It saddens me to think that your relationship with your Heavenly Father is dependent on a group of LDS men that must give an official appointment to a man-made office of “priestesshood” for you to feel that you blessings over another would be heard. I’m sure you’re thinking, “but it’s not a man-made office…it’s an office designed by God and established by His men on earth.” Isn’t there a possibility that it’s not? Isn’t there a great chance that the reason you feel you need an official appointment to a “priestesshood” is because you have been told by men this is the case?

    Within the Scriptures, Jesus Christ intercedes on our behalf. Period. Not interceding for male priesthood holders only, but for all who accept His sacrifice as sufficient, and follow with repentence and belief in Him.

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    Chelsea Reply:

    YES. If this was on Facebook, I’d “like” it. A lot.

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    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    LIKE

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    Senora H-B Reply:

    You know, Amy, I think this might be why I haven’t really thought about this. I haven’t ever felt like my prayers and blessings weren’t answered because I don’t have the priesthood.

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    Katy Reply:

    This is how I feel too and why the issue of not having a formal priesthood has never bothered me. Now, if in some future time God reveals that He wants to give us some additional priestesshood of our own, that will be great, but it’s not going to happen..until it happens. Does that make any sense?

    If priesthood was something given from the men in the church and largely up to *them*, I’d hope and petition that women who want it, could get it, but seeing as how it comes from God, I just don’t worry about having it because maybe it’s just not time yet. If/when it should happen, it will, and I don’t plan on worrying about it until it does. I know that if I want to bless my family, children, and others, I can and don’t feel like God hears me less.

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    AmyLynne Reply:

    I completely agree.

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    Danielle Reply:

    Katie, I think the problem with this is that things often haven’t changed or evolved in the church towards greater perfection and equality (which are Godly qualities) without agitation. Because the prophet is a human intercessory between God and the church as a whole and he is necessarily fallible in his human condition. So within a system like this you can’t contend that agitating for answers from the leadership isn’t necessary. I’m hard pressed to think of examples where God just handed things down without questioning from Their children.

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    Rebecca Reply:

    same! amen.

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    Jo(ke) Reply:

    Amen to your comment and especially your last paragraph.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Oh I don’t think anything about Church doctrine implies that God doesn’t listen to your prayers, no matter your gender or belief system. Within the current LDS guidelines, I am free to pray for my son as often as I’d like, but I am never allowed to pray *over* him. (Barring some extreme circumstance where a priesthood leader is unavailable and I act in the name of the Priesthood to save a life or heal someone at a time when it must be done immediately).

    Within the Church the Priesthood is passed down from one man to another, typically given at the age of 12, in an unbroken chain. Emphasis is placed on being worthy, of growing closer to the Lord, of the great power that can come as acting as an instrument for the Lord for those in need.

    I want a similar experience for women.

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    Zoe Reply:

    I’m sorry, I missed the difference…what does it mean to pray “over” someone vs praying for them?

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    Jenna Reply:

    Using the Priesthood men lay hands on a person, use specific words and phrases. Women are not allowed to do this.

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    Zoe Reply:

    And by “not allowed,” do you mean in the Church? In public? Are you breaking some kind of LDS law if you were to pray over someone? Or does it just not have the merit/efficacy as a man with the priesthood?

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    Jenna Reply:

    I would say yes, I am breaking an LDS rule if I lay my hands on someone and bless them, because that’s something I’m supposed to seek out a man for. I could certainly do so in private, but if it were to become public knowledge, based on the Church’s past actions relating to women doing “feminist” things, I could be punished in some way. This punishment would including the withholding of privileges, like going to the temple, or possibly even being excommunicated (kicked out).

    The more I talk about this though, the more I realize that there are women doing these things. They are just afraid to admit it. We need to stand up together and say we believe there is nothing wrong with laying hands on our own children and communing with God over and about them.

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    TB Reply:

    Jenna, I think this would only be a problem if you were doing it thinking you had some authority such as the Priesthood. If you were just laying your hands on your child and just praying I don’t think the church would “punish” you. Heavenly Father listens to our prayers just the same as anyone elses so why can’t you just gather your sick child in your arms and say a very heartfelt prayer. You can have words and thoughts come into your mind and heart just the same as any other faithful person.

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    Liesl Shurtliff Reply:

    There are many stories in the church of women laying their hands on someone and blessing them with healing or other blessings, to great effect. My own mother is one of them and she speaks of the experience openly and thus far has not received any kind of chastisement or discipline. This practice, though unconventional, is not specifically against church doctrine unless a woman were to use the phrase “by the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood” which is a power that must be conferred upon a man from a man holding that priesthood, as it is the power of God, who is a man. Sometimes I think the priesthood has some kind of physical aspect to it that is incomprehensible to our minds at present.

    With that in mind, I often think how amazing it would be for women to hold the power of the [insert female Biblical name] Priestesshood, which is the direct power of our Heavenly Mother, who is a woman. Because I have to believe that there is some female deity that we are connected to, and yet not fully aware of Her nature and presence, if only because no one has taken the time to fully question, ponder, pray, and receive revelation on the matter. (At least not from the highest officials of the church-and that likely because they are all men.) But that itself is an entirely new topic with several topics and controversies connected. Maybe we already possess that power and it needs no official term or confirmation other than “Womanhood.”

    I love this topic. It’s something I’m very passionate about and love to hear other people’s views on the matter.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Thank YOU for sharing. Without stories like yours and the others that have been shared, we can easily feel alone.

    Thank you.

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    Amy Reply:

    To me, this continues to drive home the point that it is never about the “stuff” we do in an effort to prove ourselves worthy by following the letter of a man-made law. It is solely about the faith behind our actions. Yes, we are absolutely called to live in a way that is Christ-like, with our actions following our hearts accordingly. But, I will never believe that it matters whether or not the hands that are laid on someone for a blessing, or to pray over a child or the sick, are male hands or not. The Lord hears those who call out to Him – whether they be male or female, widow or orphan…He hears the cry of His people. How sad to think that you, the child’s mother, aren’t allowed to lay hands on your child and pray over him if he is sick because it doesn’t have the power that Bishop So-and-so’s hands do because he is a priesthood holder, by LDS definition! We are all humans in need of the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice. No one person needs that any more than another, male or female. No male has any more special power in his hands than any other in which to give a blessing. It’s is only tied to the power of Christ.

    I completely agree that there are different responsbilities that men and women are called to within the body of Christ. (Excellent comment, Chelsea!)

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    Anne Reply:

    I love your responses, Amy! Very eloquently put, and so true.

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    claire Reply:

    Where did LDS doctrine come up with the idea of the priesthood? Is it in the Bible or BOM?

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    Jenna Reply:

    You can read more about the Priesthood here: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/84?lang=eng
    6 aAnd the bsons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the chand of his father-in-law, dJethro;

    7 And Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb;

    8 And Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu;

    9 And Elihu under the hand of Jeremy;

    10 And Jeremy under the hand of Gad;

    11 And Gad under the hand of Esaias;

    12 And Esaias received it under the hand of God.

    13 aEsaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him—

    14 Which aAbraham received the priesthood from bMelchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till cNoah;

    15 And from Noah till aEnoch, through the lineage of their fathers;

    16 And from Enoch to aAbel, who was slain by the bconspiracy of his brother, who creceived the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father dAdam, who was the first man—

    17 Which apriesthood bcontinueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without cbeginning of days or end of years.

    18 And the Lord confirmed a apriesthood also upon bAaron and his cseed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and dabideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

    19 And this greater apriesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the bkey of the cmysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the dknowledge of God.

    20 Therefore, in the aordinances thereof, the power of bgodliness is manifest.

    Basically we believe that the Priesthood was given to Adam, and has been passed down in an unbroken chain since then.

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    Jackie Reply:

    But do you ever ask a friend to pray for you? What about the apostles who laid on hands in the book of Acts?

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  6. All I could think of while reading this was the post on my RS Facebook page earlier today reminding us to bring $5 to tomorrow’s activity if we want to take the class that makes this incredibly ugly plaque. Like, really? The RS and women’s role in the church are far more inspiring and influential in church history and literature than we manage to trivialise it to in current culture.

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    Senora H-B Reply:

    Hailey, I’m in charge of activities for our ward and we have almost completely eliminated crafts. We did make a nativity at Christmas, but it was simple. This year we are focusing on being self-reliant. For example, in January we learned to make homemade cleaning products. Our next activity will get the women in our RS certified in CPR and will teach basic first aid. We also have plans for teaching classes on financial preparedness and spiritual/mental/emotional health, among others.

    I have definitely felt like we are better fulfilling the purpose of the RS as we teach women to take care of themselves and give them the tools to take care of others. As you said, there are so many examples of strong, powerful women in church history. I think our world could benefit from many more women like those.

    I do feel like the general RS presidency is aware of the tendency to trivialize the role of women with silly craft activities – hence the publication of the new manual teaching about the history of the RS. I hope that this will spark a general trend toward encouraging women in the church to refuse to be trivialized.

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    Jenna Reply:

    First, your RS has a Facebook page? This is a good idea. I’m going to start one in our next ward if it doesn’t exist already (we have a listserv via Yahoo, but a Facebook page would be much better).

    Second, my ward is (happily) more like Senora described. I am actually on the Activities council (I can never remember what they are calling it now since they change it all the time) and I love our ideas for the next few months. Our first activity was a “welcome dinner” aimed at introducing everyone to each other because we have such high turnover. The next was a Chicago Winter Survival night, with ideas for things to do and a silly but practical fashion show with long-time residents sharing what they wear in the cold. January a re-boot theme, where people talked about ways to better yourself spiritually, financially, physically, etc. This month we are doing a service auction, where people bring an offering (like babysitting or photography lessons, and take an offering home). April is going to be relationship seminar night, where http://www.finlayson-fife.com/html/homepage.html is going to come and answer our questions about relationships. I’m SO excited for that one.

    Third, I want to share a phrase with you that someone recently said to me. “Make your church experience what you want and need.” Speak up if you want things to change. And don’t go if you don’t think that the activity is the appropriate use of your personal time!

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    Rebecca Reply:

    I totally agree! I think those planning the activities are doing their best to plan activities that will bring women together to form bonds of friendship and love and service. There are lots of times I don’t attend activities because I have no interest, but I don’t think it in any way is making a statement about the lack of importance in other areas. I think the Relief Society organization as a whole and on local levels strives to be well rounded and fit the needs and interests of many different types of women.

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  7. Did you know that priestesshood is one of the main plot points of the later seasons of hbo’s big love? I think there are parts of that show that are too racy for you and yes I realize they are FLDS which is not LDS, but they have some really I interesting discussions about this subject. It’s actually critical to how the entire series ends particularly in terms of healing like you’re talking about.

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    Sam Reply:

    Yes to this! I’m NOT equating the two religions, but I feel like Barb’s struggle is exactly what Jenna is talking about. Fascinating.

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    Angela Reply:

    I was thinking about Barb too! :)

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  8. This is why I love doing Initiatories at the temple so much. I won’t go into detail online, but I think that is the way it is supposed to be done and is being done. Also, I have a female LDS cousin who has laid her hands on a sick child in her husbands absence and blessed and healed him, also on her car oddly enough. God will not disregard an ernest, faithful, plea for healing just because the words are not uttered out of the mouth of someone with the priesthood. Faith to heal or have prayers answered extends beyond that.

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    Stacy Marie Reply:

    I like this–if you feel that strong desire and pull within you, what is stopping you from going for it? God will not disregard and earnest plea just because the direct authorization has not been handed down. You are a child of God, I feel like the right to lay hands is already yours, you know?

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  9. MM-Genealogy says:

    Is there anyone who practices Judaism who can clarify this claim I’m about to make?

    I recall reading in Dr. Margaret Meeker’s book (Fathers & Sons), that part of celebrating Shabbat is to have fathers AND mothers lay their hands on their child’s head and profess God’s blessings.

    What a beautiful idea and loving concept. It really spoke to me even though I don’t know much about Judaism.

    It would be beautiful to bless ones’ children on the Sabbath.

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    Em Reply:

    I’m not Jewish (Evangelical Christian) but my husband and I do this every Sunday to our sons. It a soothing time for us and them, and helps us model faithfulness on and reliance on Christ for our kids…and now that this has been brought up (I did not know much about the LDS priesthood, despite growing up in Mesa, AZ!) it models to my sons that women can communicate with God and have God speak through them just like men.

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    Jess Reply:

    It depends on the family, but it can be both parents (usually more liberal Jews–Reform, Conservative, etc.). Traditionally, it was the father. It’s a separate blessing for each child, depending on gender, because the blessing asks G-d to make the children like specific biblical figures worthy of admiration who are divided along gender lines.

    Jewish woman do light the candles on Shabbat, though, and pray to G-d on behalf of the entire household. There’s no question that they are speaking to Him directly. Some (most?) also offer up a silent prayer for their families. I don’t know quite how to put it, but it’s a “good” time to do that. I think there’s a sense that G-d’s especially receptive.

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    MM-Genealogy Reply:

    Thank you Em! What a lovely way to model a strong Christian woman!

    Jess, thanks for the explanations. I love that the Jewish women have a specific role to play in Shabbat celebrations.

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    Molly P Reply:

    In addition, on Friday night, part of the Kabbalat Shabbat service is the song “lekhah dodi,” which welcomes the sabbath “bride”. In the last verse, we rise and bow to the “Shabbat Queen.”

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    Molly P Reply:

    I don’t quite fit the mold- I’m Jewish and my husband is a non-practicing Catholic (actually, he considers himself atheist), but we are raising our children Jewish. So yes, I bless my children every Shabbat. The tradition asks the parents to bless- so it can be the mother, father, or both together.

    A rabbi is not a priest in that he/she is more of a leader, teacher, and facilitator- but he/she has no more authority to perform rituals than any other member of the community. Anyone can lead the service, recite blessings, etc. For example, everyone sings the blessing for the sick together.

    There used to be a very limited kind of priest in Judaism, related to the temple (esp. animal sacrifice)- these were the Kohanim (referring to lineage, descendants of Aaron)- but when the temple was destroyed, the role of Kohanim ended.

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  10. Shaylene Carter says:

    I saw an article on feminist Mormon housewives about this and my thought was that I have enough responsibility in my life and don’t need or want more. Funny that we thought the exact same thing about it!

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    Emily Reply:

    I am sure there are some women who didn’t have a want or desire to vote either. But aren’t you glad that many woman fought for the right to have a voice in a vote? Even if you, yourself, don’t choose to participate in our democracy, at least you have the choice. As your female friends have just as much of a say and a right as your male friends?

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    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    I honestly have no opinion about the issue. I am very uninformed and don’t care to spend my time learning more about it. I don’t think that the church is going to come out and change something like that unless inspired by God. And since God is all knowing, I will let him handle it.

    I hope that didn’t sound rude or self righteous. I am by no means looking down on those who want women to have the Priestesshood, I just am not concerned about it personally at this point.

    Reply

    Christiana Reply:

    I guess my big question is “how would you know when it it is inspired by God?” Couldn’t women wanting a priestesshood be inspired by God? Wouldn’t these women who want the recognition that women are powerful and faithful in their own right? Is this something that can only come from the prophet?

    Reply

    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    With the way the LDS church is organized it would have to come from the prophet. I am not adding any opinion about that, that is just how I understand the LDS church works.

    Reply

    Christiana Reply:

    Thank you, that is exactly what I was asking :)

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  11. This makes me think about a time when I was out of the country with three other girls from BYU. One of the girl’s had just found out that her mother was having emergency surgery to remove a growth they had found in her brain. She was in shock after watching her dad battle cancer for 5 years, and was so worried that her mother would have the same fate. She sobbed as she told me she felt so alone, and wished she could be home with her family. I asked if she wanted me to go get one of the guys in our group to give her a blessing for comfort, but she said no, it was too personal to share with the boys she didn’t know well.

    Long story short, the girl, me, and one other girl went and found a quiet spot outside and knelt together. She asked me to pray, because she couldn’t get the words out through her tears. This was three years ago, but I still vividly remember feeling as though I was being prompted to know what to say in my prayer. To be honest, as someone mentioned above, I believe things are done the way they are at certain rites and rituals in the temple for a reason. Thinking about those moments of temple participation coupled with my own experiences with prayer I do not doubt that there are more power and privileges that await the women of the church. I am not sure what form that will be or how it will be carried out, but I believe there is more…and to be focusing on making wood block letters for our homes while ignoring the eternal and weightier matters of the gospel and our roles as women is selling ourselves short. I especially struggle with this among the wards here in Utah :(

    Reply

    Tara Reply:

    I love this^^
    I do not think that in order to ‘bless’ our children, we have to necessarily lay our hands on their heads or use consecrated oil. I think Heavenly Father will give us the same powers, and guide us as He guided you praying for your friend. Obviously there are deep meanings and purposes in oil, laying on of hands, professing priesthood calling, etc. However, Heavenly Father expects us to bless and protect our children and those around us, and will give us the tools and power to do so, whether male or female.

    Reply

    Rebecca Reply:

    I totally agree.

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  12. Out of curiosity, is the concept of having a Heavenly Mother an ‘orthodox’ Mormon one?

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes

    Reply

    Em Reply:

    and to expand is it that your perception of God is that there are two of them? A Mother God and a Father God?

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes, that is my belief, and I think the belief of the LDS Church as well.

    Reply

    april Reply:

    I agree– I think the majority of people in our Church feel like we do have a Heavenly Mother– nobody I know *prays* to a Heavenly Mother, like we do God– our Heavenly Father. I’d like to clarify that, because I’ve had people ask about that when I’ve mentioned it.

    Reply

    Em Reply:

    I should maybe clarify my question, because most evangelical Christians don’t assign gender to God (we refer to “Him” for brevity’s sake) and instead understand that there is one God with feminine and masculine qualities, one God that embodies the entire spectrum of what we as humans understand to be “gender” and everything that goes with it.
    From your responses I am getting that people of the LDS church believe rather that there are 2 Gods, a mother god and a father god. The mother god being more sacred to you and not much discussed and the father god being the “face” of the religion if you will…correct?
    I find this to be really fascinating, while it doesn’t line up with my beliefs at all it’s really interesting to learn about how others approach God!

    Reply

    Alicia Reply:

    I found this interesting article about Heavenly Mother in regards to ancient Judaism, though the title doesn’t necessarily express what’s discussed. It’s a very interesting read: http://www.mormonmayday.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/How-to-worship-our-mother-in-Heaven-without-getting-excommunicated.pdf

    Our first article of faith (13 tenants of our religion) states: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” We believe that those three make up the Godhead but are separate and distinct beings. Where Heavenly Mother fits in is, generally, speculation.

    I believe that she is something we are to learn about on our own, as the Lord teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept, and I’ve found that’s true in my case. I feel somewhat of an understanding of who She is and how She is a part of my life, but I wouldn’t say that is true of all or most Mormons.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    You may know this Alicia, but the title to that article comes from the excommunication of a woman in 1193 who said publicly that she prayed to Heavenly Mother. The Church kicked her out for this.

    Reply

    Alicia Reply:

    Yes, I am aware of this. I am not sure how I feel about it all, as I have recently felt a significant connection to Her and can understand the desire to pray to Her- I am not sure how to reconcile it all, to be honest, as I have feel I have had an awakening and wish there were more “official” information readily available and taught.

    I find it extremely exciting that there was an article about Heavenly Mother published in BYU studies last year- I would love to have Her spoken of more often. Here is a thorough review of the article, if you don’t want to purchase it: http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPaulsenPulido.html

    Long-winded aside: Lately I have been having a bit of a problem with the way she is avoided; we are encouraged to look to the future, that we will be like God someday, and we don’t know what it will be like for us as women. For men, the future seems much more obvious, though interactions directly with Heavenly Father, not Christ, are few, they are still there. Even then, Christ speaks for Heavenly Father and I think it’s safe to say that, for men, they will be like them. I know that we are striving to be more Christ-like as women as well, but as far as our role in eternity? The future is pretty vague. Though I have prayed for peace about it and received assurance that at some point I will understand, I am continuing to study and ponder (a lot of that) our future and wonder. A quote that has made me feel better (although still vague) is the following:

    “Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny.” (Glenn L. Pace, “The Divine Nature and Destiny of Women” (devotional address, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, March 9, 2010), available at http://speeches.byu.edu )

    I am also of the impression that the whole “protecting her” mindset is mistaken. I think it is a relationship that is somewhat privately discovered (though She is mentioned many times in my patriarchal blessing- surely she shouldn’t be so hidden?); I just wish she wasn’t a bit of a taboo.

    I just wanted to share that the article I referenced above included a lot of fascinating information beyond simply finding a way to worship Heavenly Mother and thought most people with an interest in Her should read it. :D

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Thank you so much for sharing, it’s something that is so rarely talked about that I kind of crave interaction on this topic, you know? I should have access to the BYU studies article when I get to campus, and I plan to look it up.

    Lately I’ve really been focusing on “Ask and ye shall receive.”

    We must ask. We cannot wait passively and expect God to give us things. He wants us to seek them out.

    Reply

    Alicia Reply:

    Yes, this is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. I’m glad that I responded to my “doubts” (if you could even call them that) in a way that’s allowed me to continue learning more instead of feeling alone and disgruntled. I think They know when we need a kick in the pants on our spiritual growth. ;)

    And I love this series so, so much.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I am lately starting to side with those who believe the suppression of Heavenly Mother is actually based a bit more in public relations than the Church would like to admit. Worshiping the Feminine Divine is often seen as pagan, and a church striving to draw in more members would want to avoid seeming too radical.

    We as Mormons like being different, but not *too* different.

    Reply

    Rachel Reply:

    I loved this whole section. Alicia’s comments sum up my feelings so well. I have tried bringing this idea of a priestesshood and knowing our Heavenly Mother with my 5 sisters but they shy away from talking about it. I was starting to feel odd for thinking about it.

    Reply

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  13. I agree with some of the comments that we already have these powers, whether we tap them by our faith and prayers or by actual laying on of hands. What merits advocation is for women to realize that they already have these powers. I was taught about this in the temple during my own sealing to my husband. I’ve also heard of women using the priesthood to administer by the laying on of hands, by the power in the priesthood that their husband or father holds. I don’t know that ‘priestesshood’ was really taken away, if you think about all the temple ordinances we participate in.
    (And to Blythe above, I’ll add that yes, the concept of a Heavenly Mother is doctrinal, though not widely discussed.)

    Reply

    Gwendolyn Reply:

    Without going too much into it (I’ve had several very sacred experiences I just won’t ever be sharing publicly or online)…I know that all woman are BORN with the power of womanhood and just like the priesthood given to men it must be used righteously.

    Reply

    Rachel Reply:

    I was discussing this with my husband and we feel that perhaps it’s an innate power with women unlike men who have to become conduits. Perhaps it’s more for our next step than for our life on earth. Here, perhaps it is a more need based power. It’s accessible when we need it. Men’s priesthood isn’t there for them to use whenever. It’s God’s power to be used at His discretion. It makes sense to me that ours would be like that as well. I was just sealed in Dec. and I was so surprised during the initiatory. I was not expecting the women’s role to be so prominent if you understand. It just solidified my belief that we will know more of these things in the fullness of time.

    Reply

    Rebecca Reply:

    I agree 100%

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  14. While I feel that most of what I would like to say about this is too sacred to discuss, as it would involve talking about temple ordinances–but I know that as we go to the temple, we are definitely given more light and knowledge about our relationship with Heavenly Father as women. I’m not sure I feel that I’m withheld any blessings or answers to prayers just because I’m a woman. My prayers about my children are heard and answered. And honestly, I think women are closer and more sensitive to the Spirit to begin with–so I’m not sure giving someone a blessing would somehow help me understand the Spirit better.

    I understand what you’re saying about wanting women to have a similar rites-of-passage experience as men do, starting at age 12. I know this sounds trite, but I believe this through and through–men NEED that experience. I honestly think women would naturally be better at running the Church, holding the priesthood/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, overcoming the “natural man.” I feel like it would almost de-masculinize men and take away from their motivation to stay worthy and righteous to be able to act officially in the name of Christ. Because we already know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Relief Society is possibly 100 times more efficient than the Elder’s Quorum. I feel like the men need a few things that are just “their own” in order to learn the life experiences that they need to and draw closer to God. Why would they sacrifice and go give blessings if the women could do it? It’s sort of not fair, but I really think it’s true.

    I’m sure not every relationship is the same, but I know I’m much better than my husband at multi-tasking. I think all day long about how our family can be better and what we need to do better–and because of that, maybe I would be better at “presiding” over our home. But you know what? My husband NEEDS that. He NEEDS the experience of keeping his priorities in line and it sort of gives him the experience of being “in tune” with the family when he has to remember to call us in for family scripture study and prayer (with gentle, “loving” reminders from his wife, of course… hahaha). I don’t NEED it the way he does, in order for us to function.

    I understand what you’re saying though about not wanting the “priesthood” but just wanting more of an earthly experience with “priestesshood.” And again, trite-sounding as it may be–we already do. We create and grow life within us. We raise beautiful children and are interested in creating beauty all around us. I don’t believe this just because the LDS Church has brainwashed me to believe so. I’ve prayed and studied as you have. The key is understanding our own divine nature–and not forcing it to mimic the priesthood, because it isn’t. It’s different.

    It would be a lovely bonding experience to give my child a “mother’s” blessing. But you know what? Those are some of the most wonderful memories I have of my relationship with my father specifically. I loved that it was something special just he could do. My mom and I had PLENTY of things to bond over. I hope my children feel the same about my husband some day. I’ve already bonded spiritually with my children 100 times more than my husband has–that’s just part of being a mom. I don’t need to take that away from him, too.

    I am intrigued, however, about the whole ministering before the birth of a child. I had read about and thought about that before, and that does seem like something very womanly and beautiful that DOES seem more like something women should do. Although, like a previous commenter said, I don’t understand why it would be any different to have your close girlfriends pray with you in that situation? Why does this need to be called a priestesshood blessing? We can already do this.

    Anyway, interesting things to think about on a boring Wednesday afternoon! :)

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Wow. You’re views on men are really sad to me. Not to mention the fact that they just don’t bear out in regards to the men in my life.

    Also, motherhood is not analogous to the priesthood. That is faulty on so many theological and logical levels.

    I think your question about why women laying on hands and offering priestesshood blessing need to be characterized as such is a good one and an interesting one. For me, the answer is in the authority and the calling to God’s work that is connected with the offices of priesthood/priestesshood. I don’t see why that should be denied to women.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    *your

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    I did not mean to come across that I have a horrible view on men at all. (I can see how you interpreted it that way though. My bad.) My husband is a wonderful man, and a wonderful example to me in many ways. I have a wonderful, happy, and enriching life. I just know that men and women are different, and that they have different strengths and weaknesses (with obvious exceptions within the gender). So it would make sense then that the lessons each needed to learn here on earth would be a little bit different.

    I think that motherhood not being analogous to the priesthood is actually exactly what I was trying to say. They don’t need to be the same–they’re different roles. I’m also not interested in trying to defend that point through logical or theological means.

    I see your point in your last paragraph, and I think, in short, I just have to say agree to disagree.

    Thanks for reading my comment. :)

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Fair enough, on the last point. :-)

    I will say though that it makes me very frustrated and sad to hear with alarming consistency LDS women talk about men as being less spiritual, less in tune with God, less in tune with the needs of their families, requiring the priesthood to turn more readily to the Lord, requiring it to be servants in their communities, and/or needing it to be “men”, whatever that means. I think that not only is this kind of talk inaccurate, it is damaging to both men and women in a lot of ways. One being that it sets men up with lower expectations for what they are expected to achieve and be capable of. And it sets women up with higher expectations for expression of spiritual traits (selflessness, humility, etc.) that actually traits that women have to work on developing against just as much natural human reticence as men. They should get credit for that hard work and not have it written off as “natural.” These are just two of many downsides to this kind of talk and belief that I can think of.

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    I see what you’re saying. I’m speaking in very general and broad terms, as not all men and women have the same strengths and weaknesses as a whole group. I just know that in most wards in which I have served in leadership callings, it is harder for the men to find more worthy men to accept and fill callings (for one example of sort of what I’m talking about) than it is for us in the Relief Society, generally speaking.

    And I do agree–we as women DO deserve credit for all the hard work we do to become the selfless, humble creatures we generally are. I’m definitely not meaning to “write it off” at all. So good point.

    I also agree with what you’re saying about not wanting to lower men’s expectations. I actually have extremely high expectations for my own husband–and so I completely agree with what you said. I wish more men DID step up and fill callings and do what the Lord asked of them as much as the women do. I’m lucky to be married to someone who does. But the sad truth is, that is not always the case.

    We women ponder a lot, trying to figure out exactly what it means or should mean to be a daughter of God. We were created to be a help-meet for our husbands–our Heavenly Father’s crowning creation. But I think men should also be allowed to consider exactly what it means to be a son of God. I think those two things are different, with different responsibilities for each–otherwise why would God create two genders in the first place? Asexual reproduction is obviously possible… so that can’t be it. So it seems like, to me anyway, that the two might not be synonymous

    I choose to believe this way based on my own upbringing and life experience–it works in my relationship and in our family. If it ever wasn’t working, I’m sure I would re-look at some things. I still can respect your differing opinion and appreciate the time and thought you put into the Gospel. We all contribute in our own ways.

    I actually have no problem at all if the Lord sees fit to “evolve” certain aspects like this in the Church, and it heads back a little bit to the roots of the Relief Society–where women did these things. I’ve worked as an Initiatory worker, and cherish those sacred experiences. I get what you all are saying. Line upon line, precept upon precept. I know, from the temple, specifically the washing and anointing ordinance, what my potential role is in the next life–if it turns more into that in mortality–great–if not, I’m sure no matter what “priestess” means in the next life will be perfect in all of our eyes. So much to look forward to!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Thanks for yours!

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  15. Stacy Marie says:

    Jenna, this is really powerful. I can’t help but think that the strong yearning you are feeling to lay hands is a sort of calling from a higher power in and of itself. Is there any course of action you can take with this, or is it something you need to wait for the church to come around on?

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    I think if Jenna ever feels compelled to administer that way she should go for it, since like you said, that is a calling from a higher power. But I might be a little more radical than Jenna, in terms of feeling the need (or not) for more “official” sanctioning.

    I don’t think there is anything inappropriate in responding to those promptings, though.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I will write these posts, and pray, and wait. :)

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  16. The thing I find most interesting about this post is that what you are describing (in general) already exists within the LDS church (especially within the temple). It’s just not bound by a rigid “priestesshood.” I love what is said in previous comments about earnest prayer, and I think as women, we have just as much power to call upon the Heavens for blessings… and to speak through divine inspiration while doing so.

    To me, the difference comes to the topic of anointing with priesthood authority. And that is something women don’t have because we don’t need it. Men do. As Latter-Day Saints we believe that we can become Gods in the afterlife, that we can have the same power that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have. And on this earth they have given us a way to be like them. For women, our ability to create life is how we are like them. To create and grow a human being and to bring forth life is a godly ability. Men do not have that ability. They provide the seed, but cannot bring forth life. That is where the priesthood comes in. The power to act in God’s name is their godly ability.

    And I think that just how important the LDS church views women and their role in the eternities is lost on the general public not because it isn’t there, but because of the sacredness of it. As women, our roles are diverse and far-reaching and not always apparent because the “world” has a tendency to mock and adulturate things. It’s for that very reason we do not speak of or know very much about our Heavenly Mother. She is much too sacred to risk ridicule. For me, going through the temple is how I learned of the vast potential I have as a woman in this Gospel. And perhaps this knowledge is one of the reasons we’re so strongly encouraged to go to the temple. (as opposed to the more talked about reason of worthiness)

    (And a disclaimer: I’m just touching on one very small part of a very deep and complex Gospel and this little bit is not an end-all answer for every question about women and the church.)

    Reply

    Gwendolyn Reply:

    Jax, thank you! These are my thoughts exactly!
    Women absolutely have divine power! And the abilities to use it righteously.
    I didn’t want to share personal things with the group because I want to keep it sacred and personal…and yet I didn’t know what to say without sharing it all. Thank you again.

    Reply

    TB Reply:

    I Loved this!

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    The problem with this extension for me, is the implication that Heavenly Mother’s role in the afterlife is to endlessly bear children. While Heavenly Father’s role is to preside and create worlds. This doesn’t sit well with me.

    And obviously Joseph Smith had a different vision.

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    But why is this a problem? An “eternal increase” has to come from somewhere… I’m sure it’s something eternally that largely depends on how people choose to have their relationship function in the first place. But since we know our bodies are patterned in the manner of our Father in Heaven–wouldn’t it make sense that the woman would still be bearing children? It doesn’t mean it still can’t be an equal partnership.

    Also I don’t know if it’s “obvious” that Joseph Smith had a different vision.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Well, I don’t think it makes sense, actually, that the way that intelligences are organized into spirits by glorified, resurrected beings (God) would resemble at all the way that bodies are created for spirits to inhabit during mortality. I think it is quite a leap to assume that Heavenly Mother is eternally bearing children in some kind of similitude to pregnancy. I don’t think that gives us any information at all on what her role is.

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    I agree–I’m sure the process is different. I have no idea how Celestial bodies produce spiritual beings. We obviously all have our own theories on this, and luckily having the “right” answer isn’t key to our exaltation. Interesting stuff to think about though! :)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Because bearing children is presented to Eve as an equivalent to Adam earning his living “by the sweat of his face”. I think it’s great that we can see glory in our afflictions, but I don’t think God intends to subject us to being eternally pregnant as some kind of reward.

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    I agree- the celestial way of actually creating life might differ from the pattern here in mortality. Pregnancy is an affliction in many ways- motherhood, overall, is not. And even though men work by the sweat of their brow in this life, they will still be working hard in the next, too, just in different, more celestial ways.

    None of really have a clue what we are talking about though. The concept of “heaven” is so different for everyone. Some women actually really enjoy being pregnant. Some women do not. It will be interesting to get to the next life and solve all the mysteries of God.

    Reply

    Jax Reply:

    I think it’s odd to assume that women will only “endlessly bear children”in the next life while the men do all the “work.” I believe if my husband and I are worthy enough to achieve the highest glory I will be right there by his side as his help-meet. After all, it is not my role in this life to simply bear children. While my husband may be the priesthood holder I work just as hard as he does (both spiritually and physically) as we move through this life.

    But regardless of all that, my point about our godly attributes applies to MORTAL life. We know very little about the afterlife and I believe our spiritual abilities will be magnified 10x. (and I know that our Heavenly Mother had a role in the creating of worlds… there are some things on this earth a man, no matter how glorified, could dream up) And I imagine what you are describing could very well be part of that.

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    “(and I know that our Heavenly Mother had a role in the creating of worlds… there are some things on this earth a man, no matter how glorified, could dream up)”

    I loved that. Good point! I think it will be really interesting to move on to the afterlife and see just how little we understood. I’m sure we won’t be disappointed with however things are set up!

    Reply

    Jax Reply:

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is that in the next life (if we attain that glory) we will no longer need to be LIKE them because we will, essentially, BE them. And we really have no idea what that’s like because we know nothing about our Heavenly Mother. Does that make sense?

    Reply

    AmyLynne Reply:

    It’s also interesting to consider that the way our Heavenly Parents function, might not be exactly how we do it, so it all might be a moot point anyway! I respect my own earthly parents greatly, and they did everything right. But our personalities are different, and so there are small differences here and there as to how my husband and I do things, and how they do things. It will be interesting to see how much “wiggle” room for personalities there is in the next life as far as roles in an eternal marriage function. Or, who knows, maybe there really is only one way!

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    Sarah L Reply:

    I’ve read through a few comments and I agree with you quite a bit Jenna. I don’t necessarily want the priestesshood or be able to give a blessing; I love having to rely on my worthy priesthood holders for that. That is something that is special for me. I just went to the temple and did some initiatory and if you think about what is going on with that it makes complete sense to me that women at some point had the priestesshood or will have it again. Now whether that is on the Earth or in my kingdom I’m not certain but I feel like it is something that we are going to be given/granted.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    One reason I want to write this post is so I can be connected with other women who feel the same way. I think we will only see change if we speak up.

    God gives things to those who seek.

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    Lisa Reply:

    I am not Mormon, so keep that in mind as you’re reading, but if you’re equating the ability to give life with that of “priestesshood,” then what about women who cannot have children or who are unmarried? I don’t see how you can equivocate the male “priesthood,” which is spiritual, with motherhood, which is part spiritual, yes, but also part physical.

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  17. This post was So good. I am friends with a friend of your friend Coco, and am LDS and have been studying Heavenly Mother and women issues since 2008. For BYU’s philosophy department and for myself.

    I think the best thing you said was that the women who desire the priesthood don’t want the priesthood, they want the preistesshood. I also appreciate your words because it demonstrates that the church is big and has room for many voices and many desires. When I was in my first grad school program and was in a difficult romantic relationship, I wanted my visiting teachers to be able to bless me. I couldn’t trust my home teachers to reveal all of the reasons why I needed help, but I could trust women.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Hi Rachel.

    You are popping up on my internet all over the place these days. It’s nice to see you. :-)

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    Jenna Reply:

    Your comment made me think of something I hadn’t considered before. What of women who are sexually abused? They need to be able to feel the power of God without having to rely on someone who belongs to the sex that defiled and abused them.

    And yes, the Church is wide and broad and I believe it can be a home for all. We just can’t get caught up in lists and thinking that salvation is found in reading the Ensign and monthly trips to the temple.

    There is so much else that needs to be done.

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  18. Jenna! I felt sad reading this post! As a Catholic Christian one of my greatest privileges is praying over others, especially over young people who are wanting to accept Jesus for themselves for the first time… The holy spirit gives the words to pray and would for you because you are obviously friends already :-)

    I hope all those hopes for you too.

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    Jenna Reply:

    This made me smile. We are friends :)

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  19. hummmm, interesting.

    I think this is a very sacred topic.

    Men and women are created with divine purposes but they are different purposes. If Women say “why can’t I have the priesthood?” Then whats to stop a man saying “Why can’t I bear children?”

    God created us with different purposes I truly believe that just because women don’t hold the priesthood doesn’t mean that they can not act with Gods power we just manifest it in different ways.

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    Sophia Reply:

    Jessica, the problem with this is that it’s not a logical equivalency. Some women cannot bear children, some women never marry. Also, men get to co-create children *and* bear the Priesthood, or, if they never marry or are infertile, they can still bear the Priesthood. The two are not, in my opinion, equal. As long as a man is worthy, he can hold the Priesthood. If a woman is worthy, she still may never marry, or if she does, may never bear children.

    Reply

    Jessica Reply:

    You have a point…good food for thought!

    Reply

    Hannah Reply:

    But all women do get that opportunity. That’s what the Savior is for. To make up for our physical and spiritual inabilities. We will be perfected. Those who lived a righteous life WILL have the chance to be married and to mother. So yes…it is logical. Just think about it from an eternal perspective.

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    Sophia Reply:

    Ok, I’ll go with your eternal perspective. When one attains Godhood:

    Men: Will be co-creators of spirit children to inhabit the world that they created.

    Will hold the priesthood (of course)

    Will be worshipped, prayed to, and looked up to as Heavenly Father

    Women: Will be co-creators of spirit children who will never pray to them or worship them directly. Will probably hold the priesthood in conjunction with their husbands.

    I’m just saying, if the radio silence on Heavenly Mother is any indication, even your “eternal perspective” doesn’t look very appealing. Men still get the opportunity to co-create spirit children, but they actually get to be Gods. Women bear endless spirit children and, despite having been righteous enough to attain Godhood, are then promptly ignored as Heavenly Mothers.

    Honestly, the earthly perspective sounds better because at least women get to actually have relationships with any children they might bear…

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    TB Reply:

    Men cannot attain the highest glory in the priesthood in the eternities without his wife. so I think It totally makes sense with Jessica’s original comment.

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    Danielle Reply:

    Priesthood and motherhood just aren’t theologically or logically analogous. So that’s just a non-starter.

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    Alice Reply:

    I completely disagree. But I think the difference of opinion here centers on whether or not you think motherhood is a calling – not just something that happens to women physically. I personally do view motherhood as a calling. And as such I have responsibilities towards my children as well as the ability to receive revelation in their behalf. Just like a priesthood jurisdiction. It has never bothered me that I can’t receive revelation for my neighbors children, etc. just as I’m sure it doesn’t bother many men that they can’t receive revelation for the entire church (like the prophet). We all have our own sphere of influence and calling.

    Also as a side note I want to mention that the church talks a lot about women who don’t physically have children. They are still mothers to those around them. And they are promised that all the blessings they don’t receive here on earth (like physically bearing children) will be theirs later on. Many men didn’t receive the priesthood for a long time (like blacks) and some still don’t (those with disabilities, etc.) It becomes a matter of faith, and a matter of believing that God loves us all and will bless us with the experiences we need in this life to return to Him.

    Sorry to go on and on. Its a pretty deep subject, and very sacred as many have mentioned, so it’s hard to discuss.

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    J Reply:

    Men with disabilities can’t receive the priesthood?! Still? What the what?? On what theological basis could that possibly stand??

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    Alicia Reply:

    I was curious what the answer to this is, so I looked up in the Handbook online (Handbook 2) and found this: “Providing Ordinances- When considering whether to perform ordinances for a person who has an intellectual disability, priesthood leaders follow the guidelines in Handbook 1, 16.1.8.”

    I have not read Handbook 1, so I don’t know what it says, but here it mentions intellectual disabilities, not physical. I know of men who haven’t had arms (cannot technically “lay on hands”) who still have the priesthood and administer to the sick or become patriarchs.

    Mormons believe that those with severe intellectual handicaps receive automatic entrance into the celestial kingdom, no ordinances necessary. I think that is why- it may simply depend on the severity. Here is a good talk about disabilities and how we (should) view them: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1991/04/the-moving-of-the-water?lang=eng&query=intellectual+disability

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    Jenna Reply:

    Yes, I think Alicia said it well. “Disabilities” in this case doesn’t refer to someone in a wheelchair or missing a leg. More like severe intellectual handicaps that impair their ability to properly understand the ordinance.

    My cousin has Downs Syndrome and regularly visits and works in the temple. I don’t know any males with Downs personally, but I imagine someone with the same capacity as hers would have the Priesthood as well.

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    Danielle Reply:

    Not all women are mothers. I think it is silly to say that. We don’t say all men are fathers, whether they have children of their own or not. There is nothing to be gained by broadening the definition of motherhood so that it loses all substantive meaning. I have enormous respect for what mothers do. I will not pretend this term applies to me even as I spend many of my days nurturing children. It devalues the specific nature and importance of what a mother is doing. And if the aim is point out that women can act caring and nurturing and serve others, children or no, then we should talk about it in terms of a call to follow Christ (which happens to apply to women and men). Why appropriate and redefine the term “motherhood?”

    Theologically, there are specific ordinances connected with receiving priesthood authority and in utilizing that power and authority. This is not true of motherhood. The counterpart to motherhood is fatherhood. Motherhood isn’t a calling that one must qualify for, the way that one must be qualified to hold the priesthood. What’s more, many worthy, capable women will never be mothers. All worthy, capable men can hold the priesthood.

    Is motherhood a calling, or rather, can it be? Of course. Just like fatherhood. But no, not like the priesthood.

    Reply

    Hannah Reply:

    First, read this: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/are-we-not-all-mothers?lang=eng&query=motherhood

    Second, all women — if they are righteous — will have the chance to mother. Just like all righteous women and men will be blessed with a righteous eternal companion, even if they couldn’t be married here on earth. We aren’t all equal here on earth — physically, mentally, spiritually, our circumstances, or what have you. We can’t compare our lives to another and use that as a basis if something is “fair” or “equal.” That’s WHY we have the Atonement. That’s why Christ died and was resurrected. To make up for those differences, to balance justice and mercy. So yes, it is absolutely just to compare motherhood and priesthood. Worthy women, no matter their circumstances, can be blessed to be actual, physical mothers. Worthy men, no matter their circumstances, can be blessed to be actual priesthood holders.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Hannah, bearing children was actually a responsibility given to Eve in response to her choice to eat the fruit. Though we don’t view what she did as a sin, God still gave her a consequence for her choice. I equate having and bearing children with Adam being told “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”.

    Do we tell men that their reward in heaven will be to suffer and toil to feed themselves, even if they didn’t have to during life? No. So why would we tell women the same thing?

    Our reward in heaven will be progeny, not the physical act of carrying and bearing children.

    Reply

    Hannah Reply:

    What makes you think that in heaven we won’t have to exert effort of some sort? And by actual, physical mother, I mean we will be physical beings mothering and nurturing. Do I know how we will go about becoming a mother? No, I don’t. But I also don’t really get how it’s possible that we can be resurrected, but I have faith that it’s possible. I also don’t understand how the priesthood works, or how inspirations from the Holy Ghost can be heard…but I still know it’s there.

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  20. I always struggled with this when I was LDS, because I always thought I should have the priesthood and nothing drives me crazier than saying our heavenly mother should be kept secret and private, that old trick has been used by men for years to keep women oppressed. It seriously makes my blood boil, and it is no different than saying women stay quiet because you are a fragile woman that I, as a man need to protect. I personally would envision a heavenly mother as a strong woman.

    Obviously, I don’t see Jesus Christ as my Savior so all of this is really null and void for me, but I love the idea of women praying over each other during birth. I think that is beautiful. I believe that as women, when we are our highest self, can be this incredible force for good and nourishment.

    I relish that one day if my daughter wants to be a rabbi she can be and that I will be able to raise in her in a household, religion and community that does not limit her abilities…well I am not letting her go to law school.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    You sound like a woman in a podcast I was listening to. “Heavenly Mother is a Goddess. She is powerful and all-mighty. She doesn’t need to be protected by a man!”

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    Amen!

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  21. I’ve heard your former view many times and always found it missed the point. Because one person ‘doesn’t want’ something doesn’t exclude the wants, needs, or talents of others in that group. I’ve also been saddened by the response priests in my church have given me regarding female clergy – that women are wrong in believing they have the ‘right’ to do anything because it is a ‘calling’ from God. The thing is, that’s why I believe women should be priests and deacons in my church and have the priesthood/priesthood in the LDS church. I have met many women who have very strong callings to take on these positions/serve in these ways, and they have been given gifts and talents for these purposes. But I feel that humans – men and women – and institutions are holding women back from exercising their God given gifts. And I have to say – I think that is a sin. I don’t really think God cares about a number of things that it is popular for religious people to think God cares about nowadays…but I do think that God cares if gifts and talents were given to certain individuals, and in the name of God these individuals are prevented from serving through these gifts. It actually hurts all of us and the Church as a whole for half of the membership to be prevented from serving and using their gifts because of one’s sex. And having just gone through giving birth two weeks ago, your idea of women surrounding a labouring woman in prayer with the power of the priesthood/priestesshood is an incredible image. :)

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    Danielle Reply:

    This is so true and well said.

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  22. I’ll offer my Catholic perspective because the religions are structured similarly and I relate/don’t relate.

    I think that women should be able to be priests. There are many examples of female leadership in the New Testament. In Galatians we hear that there is no such thing as women and man, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. We are equal. There are even prophetesses mentioned in the New Testament! (Anna, Luke 2). I think that women got pushed to the back when Christians realized Jesus wasn’t returning tomorrow and the Church would have to last, and it probably would’ve been seen as extra crazy if they had female leaders. Biblical scholars suggest too that the oft quoted as evidence women shouldn’t be priests 1 Cor 14:34-35 was added in significantly later.

    So I think women should be able to be priests. So I can relate there.

    On the other hand, in our religion not all males are priests – it’s only the ordained. So my husband doesn’t have any power that I don’t have. I think I would take more issue with women not having the power if it was all men who could have it and women who don’t.

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  23. Wow- I have known you for a while now and one thing I know is that you love controversy. I’m not even sure if half the opinions on this blog are really yours. Though I am greatful to see that you are no longer condemning people who don’t fit into your beliefs. I have a hard time this post because I think men and women are made so inherently different. I am content knowing that I ultimately gave life to my child. Yes it took me and my spouse, but I was the one who kept her alive and growing. I was the one who had to think about what I put into my body to nourish her. To me, there is no nobler calling, including the priesthood, than being the bearer of human life.

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    If you’ve “known her for a while” does that mean in real life? If so, I’m not sure why you didn’t leave your real name instead of a handle that simply reinforced your judgment of her and your questioning of her motives.

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  24. I think this is a very very sacred subject, one that we are blessed to be exposed to within the walls of the temple. I believe those powers do exist in the women of the church- perhaps in different forms. Maybe we cannot lay hands and anoint, but we certainly have the powers of God, most especially in creating, carrying, and birthing children. We minister to sisters through rs, vt, teaching young girls, etc. perhaps we will be given every right as priestesses later on, when Heavenly Father feels it necessary. In the mean time, I’ll leave it to the RLDS church to ordain women apostles, etc. If this is something you really want, would you be willing enough to look into that avenue? Just curious, seeing as how many of their organization/beliefs are still the same, but so many are different, including women holding the ‘priesthood’…

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    They are called Community of Christ now, just fyi.

    Reply

    Tara Reply:

    yes, i do know that, there is actually one a block away from my LDS meetinghouse. however, most people know them more readily (especially LDS people) as RLDS- it makes them easily identifiable in the sea of churches and congregations of Christ…

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  25. First, I think this is a topic that is best explored/learned inside the walls of the temple. It’s no secret, however, that the priesthood isn’t complete without the women. A man can’t reach his fullest priesthood potential without entering the marriage ordinance. If that’s the truth, it stands to reason that women do, in fact, hold the priesthood.

    It’s interesting to me though, that women also can’t produce life without a man. Crazy how everything fits perfectly, huh? It’s almost like it happened on purpose.

    My point? Men and women are different. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re supposed to be different. We fit together like a puzzle piece — ying and yang. We compliment and complete each other. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

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    Hannah Reply:

    P.S. That was obviously supposed to say yin and yang.

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  26. It’s taken me a couple of days to figure out what I wanted to say in response to this post- even now I’m not sure I’ll make a lot of sense.

    Personally, for me there have been no times in my life that I felt closer to my Heavenly Father then when my son was born and later, as my father died. Both were profoundly moving experiences for me that spiritually shook me to my core.

    Before my dad’s death I lamented to him how very much I was going to miss him. For my whole life he had been my confidant, my best friend. He just smiled at me and said “honey, do you really believe that something as insignificant as dying could sever the bonds between a parent and his child?” All I could think at the time was “well… yeah!”

    When I was carrying Michael and later as I was giving birth I came to understand what my father meant by what he said. I have a connection with my son that my husband, loving father that he is will never have. I can’t explain it, but I think it’s one that all mother’s recognize. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a different bond between father’s and their children (there definitely is), just that it’s different. As I was scanning the comments that had been left before this I noticed that there were several that mentioned how powerful the image of women praying over a laboring mother is. I believe that there is power in that image because there is power in the act of giving birth. You’re acting as the bridge between the spirit world and this world- during labor and birth you are at your most vulnerable, and during that period of intense weakness and vulnerability, you are ultimately at your most strong.

    I think some things are inherent in us. The power that comes with being a women, capable of giving life is one of those things. I think that’s why that image resonated so strongly. I also believe that the laying on of hands creates a connection between the priesthood holder, the recipient of the prayer, and our Heavenly Father. A bridge, if you will. Perhaps women are not ordained because, for us, it isn’t necessary. Maybe we are inherently capable of it.

    I think it’s possible to debate endlessly if this power that I believe is inherent in women exists *because* we are mothers, or if it extends to women without children, or to lesbians, etc. My answer to that is simply that I don’t know. I only know what I believe in my heart to be true from my own personal experiences.

    In my heart I believe that you can lay your hands on your children in prayer and be heard. I don’t believe that you need the priesthood for that. Having said that, how much more powerful would that prayer be if you shared it with your husband. How much more powerful would it be for you to act as your husbands partner in that prayer? For you both to lay your hands on your son?

    As for the priestesshood- I guess it boils down to whether you believe that being formally recognized as having that power (ordained) *grants* you that power. Like I’ve said in the past, it’s a question of whether you view religion and spirituality as synonymous.

    I think that finding your voice and recognizing the power and strength that has been in you all along is an incredible thing. Personally, I appreciate your sharing in this with us. As a side note, have you ever read the Desiderata? It remains one of my very favorite pieces of writing. You may enjoy it as well.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Thank you for introducing me to the Desiderata. I loved it instantly.

    Thinking further on this I realized that I want official recognition because of the way it would empower EVERYONE. I can certainly do whatever I feel is right according to my own conscience, but how much powerful are we when we are organized and working together? That is one of the reasons I love the Church, because of the way it is organized and how this organization can work for good.

    Reply

    Rachel Reply:

    Oh, I loved this comment.

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  27. I have to agree with the first commenterr. I am a non LSD woman and believe that Jesus is our high priest. He alone intercedes with our Father on our behalf and everyone has equal access to Jesus.

    Jesus’s love for us is simple. Why does church doctrine have to complicate matters?

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  28. I guess my main thought is that we live in a fallen world. Things are not perfect here. The closer I feel to God, the more fully I am able to feel His love for me. Despite the imperfectness of our world or the incorrect ideas that our societies may embrace, the best way to feel God’s purpose for me and His love is to draw near unto Him. At least that has been my personal experience. For me, living the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been the best path for me to feel the closest to Him.

    As a Mormon (obviously Jenna you already know what religion I am:) I do not feel underprivileged because I don’t have the priesthood. I feel like I am very valued as a woman in the LDS church. I feel like Heavenly Father and the LDS Church see women and men as equals…and if anything that the LDS church leaders see women as better than men! My current assignment in my congregation is to teach the adult Sunday School class. Both men and women are very gracious and respectful and thankful for the role that I play which humbles me greatly because I am truly the least among them. One woman in my congregation is a graduate of Oxford University and is a professor. Among my class members there are many surgeons and other professionals whom I consider my mentors. I feel like a huge blessing in the LDS church is to be able to have these opportunities to serve in ways that stretch me and help me to learn and grow.

    Unfortunately our society doesn’t see men and women as equals…it seems like Tongans are the ones who have it right with their very matriarchal society! ;-) Jenna, have you studied much about Tongan society? It is very interesting!

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  29. I feel passionately about this and daily think about (and give gratitude for) those women who participated in those events. As an LDS woman, my desire is to pass down this important knowledge and power to my children. Thanks you for your post. There are more of us out there than you may think who believe this way, and who are excited for the day when it is seen throughout the world.

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