Wanting Women to Receive the Priesthood is an Inherently Misogynistic Idea
Note: My views on this topic have evolved and changed. But I’m not deleting it.
“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah
When I initially approached the thought of sharing my opinion on women receiving the Priesthood, I wanted to reply with one word: NO. However, after more consideration, I thought I should explain why I, a very adamant and active feminist, am beyond annoyed with the idea.
Thinking that women need the Priesthood is not only a fundamental misunderstanding of doctrine, but it also demeans the position and influence that is held by women within the church. Because we live in a world where strength and power have always been defined by men, many think that they must be the same as a man to be strong and powerful. The idea implies that only what a man does is of worth, and therefore, if a woman wants to be of worth, she must become like a man. This is wrong. Women should be valued for what they contribute based on their own individual and differing strengths, not based on how much like a man they may have become.
First, let’s talk doctrine. What is the 4-fold mission of the church?
- Perfect the saints. While it is true we need Priesthood ordinances to eventually attain perfection, the necessity is in the receiving of the ordinance, not the giving. We, as women receive all necessary ordinances for the attainment of salvation.
- Preach the gospel. Don’t need the Priesthood to preach. I’m preaching now!
- Redeem the dead. Again, we don’t need to hold the Priesthood to do our genealogy. The research I have accomplished while in college is huge, and puts my mother to shame (She told me to say that).
- Care for the poor and needy. Yeah, we have that one nailed.
Women have been called of God to lead his people for a long time. If you are having a hard time recalling examples, then I suggest you campaign to have better Sunday School teachers. There’s Eve (that’s a whole other blog), Esther, Mary, for whom I need not expound, Anna, who prophesied of Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem, and the list goes on. Perhaps my favorite example is Deborah, a prophetess, judge, and military advisor in Ancient Israel. “Known for her wisdom and respected as a leader, Deborah is introduced in the biblical record with no indication that the fact of a woman’s holding of such influence was inappropriate or surprising.” Camille Fronk Olson, Women of the Old Testament, pg. 107. Women are not denied title or rank because of their lack of Priesthood. This is as true in modern times as it was in Ancient Israel.
Eliza R. Snow is probably my favorite example of a modern day prophetic woman. To quote her official church profile, “A profoundly wise and revelatory woman, she left behind some 500 poems—many of which provide tremendous comfort as well as doctrinal insight.” Go learn more about her if you don’t know about her contributions to doctrine.
Next, may I direct your attention to a picture from a campaign by UN Women.
Hey. Look at that last one. I’ve been speaking from the pulpit since I was 12 years old. In General Conference, women preach doctrine as well as men. Their words should be heeded with as much respect and reverence as the men’s. If you are ignoring the multiple talks from women every General Conference, that is a problem I suggest you quickly reevaluate. Women are to teach, lead, and serve alongside the men in this church. In fact, there are callings in the church requiring a man to be married; however, there exists no such requirement for women.
Recently, female leaders (The General Relief Society, Young Women’s, and Primary Presidents) have been making major innovations in the church and how it functions as a worldwide entity, becoming the first organizations to have international boards. I will not be surprised if all other organizations in the LDS Church will soon follow their new changes. The general boards of the church have women sitting on them, and many organizations are run by women. Beverly Campbell, author of perhaps one of my favorite books, Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, was the head of the church’s International Affairs Department for 12 years. Sheri Dew is the CEO of Deseret Book (owned by the church). Oh wait… did I just mention Sheri Dew? Time to listen to the woman herself.
Women are powerful forces for influence within the church. Insisting that women go about making change or being leaders in the exact fashion of a man is ridiculous and frankly degrading. Women do not need to become as men to have value added to what they do. There may be instances of unrighteous dominion happening within wards or stakes, with a male leader not listening to female leaders, or allowing them to function properly; however, this is not true to how the church is supposed to run. If this is the problem, it is a local problem, and the answer is not to give women the Priesthood, but to evaluate the leader in question, so that all may lead and contribute to Zion.
This was recently made by the church.
These are all amazing women who have followed the example of the women who came before them, and are leading in God’s church and in the world. Now tell me again why I need to be more like a man to be of worth? I intend to shape this world I live in for the better, and I shall do so as the woman I have become, a woman who knows she need not become like a man in order to believe in her own inherent worth and power.
UPDATE: I love discussion, and I love hearing people voice their opinions, so I don’t wan’t to shut of the comments on this. However, the last time I had a really popular post I got a little exhausted from moderating and responding to so many comments. So with that in mind, I will be mostly be doing quick skims of comments to make sure they don’t contain profanity, and then approving them. Please don’t be offended if I don’t respond. But keep up the discussion! It’s always good to lear from other people’s perspectives.
CLARIFICATION: Based on some of the comments I’ve seen here and other places I just wanted to say a few things.
One: While I clearly do not agree with the desire to ordain women to the Priesthood, I respect the Ordain Women movement, and their desire to start this discussion. I do think there is sexism in the church (I wrote a post called Modest Is Not Hottest calling out some of the sexism I’ve seen.) but I do not believe the gospel is sexist. I think there are changes that should be made, I have simply never seen anything to make me think giving women the priesthood was the answer. But however much I disagree with that idea, I do not think it is acceptable to condemn these women for making their voices heard. Calling for their excommunication is not ok (in reference to the members, as this is not a matter that random people who do not know these women get to weigh in on), and I would ask those of you who are, to try and take a second to at least understand where they are coming from. You don’t need to change your mind, but all sides could do well to see each other with more empathy. Disagree with ideas, but do not condemn people.
Two: Some have felt this is a straw man argument, but I would like to remind you that this is an opinion piece on my personal blog. It is shaped by my experiences and dealings with others. This was written based on very real issues I have personally dealt with, however I realize they are not a perfect example of the whole church, but neither is any one experience. In response to my post about modesty, I had similar comments, those saying that they have never dealt with any of the issues I brought up, so they must not be real. As I said, I think this is a good discussion, and this is my contribution to it. If you have have different ones, feel free to write about those.
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