Women and Priesthood

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Post Reply
Roy
Posts: 5768
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Women and Priesthood

Post by Roy » 28 Jun 2019, 14:47

Elder Ballard spoke on this topic at BYU in 2013
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... r?lang=eng
I have some concerns about what seems to me to be a tone deaf response.
There are those who question the place of women in God’s plan and in the Church. I’ve been interviewed by enough national and international media to know that most journalists with whom I have dealt had preconceived notions about this topic. Many have asked questions implying that women are second-class citizens in the Church. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I would be very, very careful in talking about a woman's place. Women are not second class citizens in the church. Nice to know. How can you demonstrate that exactly?
Let me suggest five key points to ponder and think straight about this important topic.
Wonderful. A methodical approach.
Point 1)
Surely, if our eventual exaltation is Their essential goal and purpose, and if They are omniscient and perfect, then They understand best how to prepare, teach, and lead us so that we have the greatest chance to qualify for exaltation... Surely we must agree that our Heavenly Father and His Son know which opportunities the sons and daughters of God need to best prepare the human family for eternal life.
... begin with the willingness to believe that our Father in Heaven does indeed know best.
This seems odd to me. I am not quite sure if he is saying that individual spirits are assigned to become male or female based on the experiences/opportunites that they may need to have the best chance of exaltation or that in order for the human family to have the best chance there would need to be a mixture of both males and females in the world. This reminds me of the divine right of kings where it was theorized that God created the class distinctions and we cannot tinker with it unless we unwittingly thwart God's divine purpose. Also, "Father … does indeed know best"? Really? In a talk intended to rebut the insinuation that women are second class citizens in our church? He does not even seem to understand how tone deaf that is.

Point 2) Priesthood keys. This point was not entirely clear. Starts by saying both men and women serve in the church under the direction and authorization of priesthood keys. He reshares a comparison between procreative power and priesthood power that he had given in that years (2013) recent GC. IOW women can have babies. Asks why only men have the priesthood offices and goes back to essentially "God said so." He gives examples of women serving and teaching and being useful and needed. He takes a moment to chastise women involved in councils "not to assume a role that is not" properly theirs. They are welcome to give requested input but once the man with the keys has made the decision then they need to shut up about it. This warning, given exclusively to sisters and "sister leaders", strikes me as oddly incongruent with how this point will support the central message that women are not second class citizens in the church.

Point 3) Men and women are (seperate but) equal in God's eyes. Men and women are different but neither gender is better or more important than the other. He also talks about how he learned long ago to listen to his wife when she had strong feelings on a matter "pertaining to the family". See! We listen to our women!
"Women come to earth with unique spiritual gifts and propensities. This is particularly true when it comes to children and families and the well-being and nurturing of others.
Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. Let us be careful that we do not attempt to tamper with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives."
Serious question here. If women were to recieve the priesthood, would such a change be tampering "with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives?"

Point 4) Everyone has equal access to the blessings of the priesthood. Men and women have equal access to priesthood blessings. Some examples of the blessings of the priesthood are: "to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness of the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has."

Point 5) The church needs the voice and faith of women ... to ... defend our Father in Heaven and His plan.
"Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan. We do not have time for that. It is a pointless exercise to try to determine how to organize the Lord’s Church differently...Sisters, your sphere of influence is a unique sphere—one that cannot be duplicated by men. No one can defend our Savior with any more persuasion or power than can you—the daughters of God who have such inner strength and conviction. The power of the voice of a converted woman is immeasurable, and the Church needs your voices now more than ever."
Suffice it to say that I am underwhelmed with Elder Ballard's points. This seems very apologetic to me - defending the status quo for the sake of defending the status quo. Have the church talking points regarding women and the priesthood evolved at all since 2013?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

nibbler
Posts: 4150
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by nibbler » 28 Jun 2019, 19:09

Surely, if our eventual exaltation is Their essential goal and purpose, and if They are omniscient and perfect, then They understand best how to prepare, teach, and lead us so that we have the greatest chance to qualify for exaltation... Surely we must agree that our Heavenly Father and His Son know which opportunities the sons and daughters of God need to best prepare the human family for eternal life.
... begin with the willingness to believe that our Father in Heaven does indeed know best.
Here's a progression of my thoughts while reading that quote:
Oh, he's talking about a woman's role in the church. Hey, it sure is odd that he capitalized the word They, like he's referring to deity. Oh cool, he must mean Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Nope, he meant Heavenly Father and His Son. Two males. Swing and a miss.

And to be honest, "Why should women have the priesthood? Obviously god wants it that way and obviously god knows best" doesn't really satisfy. That's not really god's position, that's your position on god's position. A position held largely because of upbringing, environment, tradition, privilege, and a spirit that finds more comfort in established territories than in exploring the unfamiliar.
"Women come to earth with unique spiritual gifts and propensities. This is particularly true when it comes to children and families and the well-being and nurturing of others.
Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. Let us be careful that we do not attempt to tamper with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives."
Gender roles mixed with a veiled jab at gay marriage. Family is however a person defines it. If it's a grandma and her grandson, fine. If it's a man and a woman with no children, fine. If it's a single person and their pets, fine. Can family be any small group where someone can feel safe and loved or does a family always have to be one male and one female so they can have babies and make bodies for god... who lost the sheet of paper that held the formula for turning stones into Abraham's children.
"Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan. We do not have time for that. It is a pointless exercise to try to determine how to organize the Lord’s Church differently...Sisters, your sphere of influence is a unique sphere—one that cannot be duplicated by men. No one can defend our Savior with any more persuasion or power than can you—the daughters of God who have such inner strength and conviction. The power of the voice of a converted woman is immeasurable, and the Church needs your voices now more than ever."
We don't have time for that? Maybe if they gave women the priesthood and leadership positions it could free up some of his time. :twisted:

I think it comes down to someone in a position of power not having much incentive to find ways to share that power. I know Joseph Smith was a bit rare on this front, sharing the priesthood with all males... but he also got kinda agitated when real threats to his position of power surfaced. It's human nature.

The whole argument seems to boil down to men and women being different and their differences compliment one another other. You could say that about any two people though, male or female. Get any group together and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Gonna bring back polygamy :crazy: ?

But the idea is that each person is different and that people compliment one another. Does whether or not someone has the priesthood make a difference in that equation? If two male missionary companions have differences they bring to the table do those differences not strengthen the companionship because both people in the companionship hold the priesthood?. Would it be better if one of them didn't hold the priesthood so they could really leverage their differences? Why couldn't men and women both hold the priesthood and still have their differences compliment one another? What prevents that?

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3987
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by mom3 » 28 Jun 2019, 20:18

Don't get me started on this topic.

I wasn't an Ordain Women supporter. I see a whole crap load of trouble when change comes through massive agitation. I also see a crap load of trouble with mass agitation. It's just as damaging as this piece is.

From there on I am opposed. Not only tone deaf, but dodgy, gas lighting and slight.

I am taking my ball and going somewhere else on the playground. I may even sit in a corner and hold my breath until they give us back the power for laying on the hands blessings.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by SilentDawning » 29 Jun 2019, 08:08

mom3 wrote:
28 Jun 2019, 20:18
Don't get me started on this topic.

I wasn't an Ordain Women supporter. I see a whole crap load of trouble when change comes through massive agitation. I also see a crap load of trouble with mass agitation. It's just as damaging as this piece is.

From there on I am opposed. Not only tone deaf, but dodgy, gas lighting and slight.

I am taking my ball and going somewhere else on the playground. I may even sit in a corner and hold my breath until they give us back the power for laying on the hands blessings.
They sure have boxed themselves into a corner with their recent statements indicating women will not have the priesthood.

Consider this excerpt from Ben Franklin's auto biography. In his autobiography, he had previously commented that the Quakers had really boxed themselves into a corner over their stance against war. When the revolutionary war happened, the Quakers appeared to have seen the wisdom of the war, and wanted to support it. But they had to do gymnastics in order to make donations of grain and other supplies to support the war. This was so as not to appear to be violating the "no war" part of their faith.

And then he goes on:
These embarrassments that the Quakers suffered from having established and published it as one of their principles that no kind of war was lawful, and which, being once published, they could not afterwards, however they might change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me of what I think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us, that of the Dunkers. [SD note -- Ben Franklin needed a tutoring session with me. What a long, run on sentence!]

I was acquainted with one of its founders, Michael Welfare, soon after it appeared. He complained to me that they were grievously calumniated by the zealots of other persuasions, and charged with abominable principles and practices, to which they were utter strangers. I told him this had always been the case with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagined it might be well to publish the articles of their belief and the rules of their discipline. He said that it had been proposed among them, but not agreed to, for this reason:

"When we were first drawn together as a society," says he, "it had pleased God to enlighten our minds so far as to see that some doctrines, which we once esteemed truths, were errors; and that others, which we had esteemed errors, were real truth. From time to time He has been pleased to afford us farther light, and our principles have been improving, and our errors diminishing. Now, we are not sure that we are arrived at the end of this progression, and at the perfection of spiritual or theological knowledge; and we fear that, if we should once print our confession of faith, we should feel ourselves as if bound and confined by it, and perhaps be unwilling to receive farther improvement, and our successors still more so, as conceiving what we their elders and founders had done to be something sacred, never to be departed from."

This modesty in a sect is perhaps a singular instance in the history of mankind, every other sect supposing itself in possession of all truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong; like a man traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, tho' in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them. To avoid this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers leave of late years been gradually declining the public service in the Assembly and in the magistracy, choosing rather to quit their power than their principle.
I think a religion that hopes to survive the assaults of time should have minimal fixed doctrine. What doctrine exists should be general enough to allow adaptation of other principles as circumstances or inspiration suggests. In a way, we kind of have that in our church, as no one is really sure what our doctrine is, and what our policy is. But these statements by GA's in conference tend to create the perception of doctrine, and paint the leadership into a corner.

Even if they do expand the priesthood to women in the future, reversals of the statements of past GA's puts the inspiration of current leaders in question. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. But the damning is far less the older the GA statement. Someone once said "it's easier to believe in a dead prophet than a live one". I would argue that it's easier to overturn the statements of an old, dead prophet, than a current prophet.

If I were leading the church now (a STRONG possibility, as I'm sure you've often thought!), I'd mandate no talks or lessons on the roles of men and women in the church. This is given all the uncategorical lines drawn in the sand on roles of men and women in the past; I'd want those slowly forgotten. Let us beat our swords into plowshares, slowly, so as not to cause unemployment.

Thinking like our current leadership with face to save, I would allow a couple decades to pass, and then lighten up. I personally see no reason any longer for women not to have the priesthood, but politicially, egoistically, and otherwise, the leadership can only make partial changes to our problems with gender equality. Otherwise they may be afraid of losing membership.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3514
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by hawkgrrrl » 01 Jul 2019, 15:46

"The past is a foreign country. Its customs and cultural assumptions are different from ours." And that's where our church leaders live. Not in the world we live in.

We have a lot of information about the past, though, even if it's not the world we inhabit. The way men & women were viewed in the past was a complementarian view, not an egalitarian view. This has been changing over time, but for those who are much older, particularly if they lived in a place where patriarchy flourished (Utah's not exactly the most progressive place), these ideas may have gone unchallenged even longer. According to this complementarian thinking, each gender had completely different strengths and roles, and as such they had their own sphere of influence: women in the domestic world held supremacy in personal moral matters and the family, and men in the public sphere, the workplace, politics, and the world at large. One way early feminists fought for the vote is by pointing to the obvious flaw in this logic: if women were morally superior, not including them in the vote meant we had lost their morally superior priorities and thoughts. And you can't have gay marriage, obviously, because then the children are going to get either a too masculine upbringing or a too feminine one. They are only going to get what one sex brings to the table.

It's ridiculous to most women I know who are my age or younger (and most men, too) because we don't see a "gender" as all behaving monolithically. We see men and women having more in common than these stereotypes, and women in our era haven't been raised on the idea that they are only fit for the domestic sphere and can't do important things outside the home. Men likewise have been raised to believe women are as capable as men and that everyone deserves equal opportunity and equal pay and shared parenting as partners, not just saddling the wife with everything. Both men and women are responsible for providing and for nurturing.

Roy
Posts: 5768
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by Roy » 02 Jul 2019, 12:28

SilentDawning wrote:
29 Jun 2019, 08:08
I think a religion that hopes to survive the assaults of time should have minimal fixed doctrine. What doctrine exists should be general enough to allow adaptation of other principles as circumstances or inspiration suggests. In a way, we kind of have that in our church, as no one is really sure what our doctrine is, and what our policy is. But these statements by GA's in conference tend to create the perception of doctrine, and paint the leadership into a corner.

Even if they do expand the priesthood to women in the future, reversals of the statements of past GA's puts the inspiration of current leaders in question. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. But the damning is far less the older the GA statement.
The news out of the church is not all bad on this subject. There is an article on formerly lds.org written by BYU Professor Barbara Morgan Gardner that strikes a much better tone. I don't know when it was written but she quotes Elder Ballard's 2013 talk and a 2016 talk so it must have been later than that.
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... r?lang=eng
Do not give “authoritative” answers to questions the Lord Himself hasn’t answered.
President Oaks has cautioned Church members to avoid answering questions the Lord has not answered: “Don’t make the mistake that’s been made in the past, … trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that’s where safety lies.”22
President Ballard gives a perfect example of this: “Why are men—and not women—ordained to priesthood offices? … The Lord has not revealed why He has organized His Church as He has.”23 President Ballard also warned us “not to pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine and practices from the past. It is always wise to make it a practice to study the words of the living prophets and apostles; keep updated on current Church issues, policies, and statements through mormonnewsroom.org and LDS.org; and consult the works of recognized, thoughtful, and faithful Latter-day Saint scholars to ensure you do not teach things that are untrue, out of date, or odd and quirky.”24 Remember that sometimes “I don’t know” really is the best answer. We must search diligently in the light of faith to learn divine truth.
Notice that the quote from President Oaks is refering to the priesthood and temple restriction against people of African descent. In the bottom qoute Elder Ballard is quoted here warning CES instructors against teaching questionable and somewhat kooky Mormon teachings of years past. Justifications for the priesthood ban certainly fit into this category. Also polygamy related stuff like you need at least 3 wives to reach to top tier of the celestial kingdom or that Jesus was married to both Mary and Martha, that sort of stuff is probably left out of CES classrooms. Probably rumors and urban legends like bigfoot and the three nephites also fit the bill of something Elder Ballard is warning CES instructors not to "pass along".
President Ballard gives a perfect example of this: “Why are men—and not women—ordained to priesthood offices? … The Lord has not revealed why He has organized His Church as He has.”23
Sister Barbara Morgan Gardner is cherry picking that quote from Elder Ballard's 2013 address and completely ignoring the fact that in the same talk Elder Ballard offered several rationales for only men having the priesthood (including the common, women have babies justification). Then she sandwiches it between the quote from Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard taken out of context and she makes it appear that the official stance of the church is "we don't know". (I felt that spliceing the two Ballard quotes together was particularly skillful because, without being strictly dishonest, it will likely lead the casual reader to assume that the two quotes came from the same conversation and were in relation to the same topic)
SilentDawning wrote:
29 Jun 2019, 08:08
Even if they do expand the priesthood to women in the future, reversals of the statements of past GA's puts the inspiration of current leaders in question. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. But the damning is far less the older the GA statement. Someone once said "it's easier to believe in a dead prophet than a live one". I would argue that it's easier to overturn the statements of an old, dead prophet, than a current prophet.

If I were leading the church now (a STRONG possibility, as I'm sure you've often thought!), I'd mandate no talks or lessons on the roles of men and women in the church. This is given all the uncategorical lines drawn in the sand on roles of men and women in the past; I'd want those slowly forgotten. Let us beat our swords into plowshares, slowly, so as not to cause unemployment.

Thinking like our current leadership with face to save, I would allow a couple decades to pass, and then lighten up. I personally see no reason any longer for women not to have the priesthood, but politicially, egoistically, and otherwise, the leadership can only make partial changes to our problems with gender equality. Otherwise they may be afraid of losing membership.
This article may be doing exactly as you suggest SD. Making it appear that current church leaders have been less dogmatic on this subject and warning others against going too far to defend the status quo ... lest it change at some point in the not too distant future. I suppose an important question is whether or not Sister Gardner's efforts are reflective of a new direction in church leadership. If Elder Ballard were to give a talk on Women and the Priesthood today would he take some ques from Sister Gardner's article or would he undercut her efforts by retreading the same rationales from his 2013 speech. Is Sister Gardner part of a coordinated effort or is she acting on her own?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Roy
Posts: 5768
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by Roy » 11 Sep 2019, 10:35

nibbler wrote:
28 Jun 2019, 19:09
The whole argument seems to boil down to men and women being different and their differences compliment one another other. You could say that about any two people though, male or female. [snip] Does whether or not someone has the priesthood make a difference in that equation? If two male missionary companions have differences they bring to the table do those differences not strengthen the companionship because both people in the companionship hold the priesthood?. Would it be better if one of them didn't hold the priesthood so they could really leverage their differences? Why couldn't men and women both hold the priesthood and still have their differences compliment one another? What prevents that?
hawkgrrrl wrote:
01 Jul 2019, 15:46
We have a lot of information about the past, though, even if it's not the world we inhabit. The way men & women were viewed in the past was a complementarian view, not an egalitarian view. This has been changing over time, but for those who are much older, particularly if they lived in a place where patriarchy flourished (Utah's not exactly the most progressive place), these ideas may have gone unchallenged even longer. According to this complementarian thinking, each gender had completely different strengths and roles, and as such they had their own sphere of influence: women in the domestic world held supremacy in personal moral matters and the family, and men in the public sphere, the workplace, politics, and the world at large. One way early feminists fought for the vote is by pointing to the obvious flaw in this logic: if women were morally superior, not including them in the vote meant we had lost their morally superior priorities and thoughts. And you can't have gay marriage, obviously, because then the children are going to get either a too masculine upbringing or a too feminine one. They are only going to get what one sex brings to the table.

Rereading your comments I am impressed that there doesn't appear to be any scientific or evidence based approach to support this complementarian theory that "Women come to earth with unique spiritual gifts and propensities. This is particularly true when it comes to children and families and the well-being and nurturing of others."
I am also thinking that there might not be many scriptures to support this theory. Outside of the Family Proclamation, is this even doctrinal?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16614
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Sep 2019, 15:01

No, it is a remnant of benevolent sexism - the incorrect traditions of our fathers.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Gerald
Posts: 404
Joined: 29 Sep 2011, 04:57

Re: Women and Priesthood

Post by Gerald » 06 Oct 2019, 06:06

This thread is interesting particularly in light of President Nelson's talk yesterday at the Women's Session of Conference. I'm just not sure how I feel about this issue and the Church's response to it.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

Post Reply