What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

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Roy
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by Roy » 15 Oct 2019, 11:10

As a practical matter, LDS priesthood is the delegated authority to perform certain important community rituals. For some other communities priesthood may also contain some hidden knowledge or recipes. But for us it is only authority (no secret incantations, languages, or herbs and spices).

Priesthood service is a visible position of authority, honor, and respect. I have three examples that doctrinally do not require the priesthood. 1) The bishopric sits on the stand. I understand this is in the handbook. Not doctrinally required but emphasizes the visible position of authority, honor, and respect. Even when an individual outside of the bishopric presides, the bishopric still sit on the stand. 2) The YM pass the sacrament. Again there is not a doctrinal reason for this. Passing the sacrament is not technically a ritual or priesthood function. It is a practical matter of getting the bread and water to everyone in the congregation. Yet we have cordoned off this task as something that only priesthood holders may perform. We also have placed strong guidelines on the "uniform" or color of shirt to be worn when doing this task. 3) Until very recently, only priesthood holders were allowed to act as witnesses. For my temple wedding the fathers on both sides acted as the witnesses and it was a visible position of honor and respect.

So for practical purposes - we could cordon off any important visible task and say that only priesthood bearers may perform that task. Speaking in SM, teaching in SS, offering public prayers, these and many other tasks can be and have historically been (at some time or another by some group or another) reserved for men (and men with certain levels of authority).
Walls wrote:
15 Oct 2019, 07:01
It felt to me that he DID admit that women have the Priesthood, at least access to its power, but we can’t use it within the rituals and rights of the church, just to bless and nurture.
Yes, this is strange. I am hopeful that this is a precursor to giving women the priesthood (as in visible roles of authority, honor, and respect) some time in the future. DW told me about this after the women's session. She told me that Pres. RMN had said that women already have access to priesthood power. My immediate thought was - "That's great. What do they get to do with this power?" She responded that women could do things like pray and receive revelations for their family. So essentially, Pres. RMN is saying that women use their access to priesthood power to do things that we never thought of as requiring priesthood power before.

It can be like walking. Almost everyone walks and it is an unremarkable thing. Doctrinally the case can be made that we use the priesthood to walk. The priesthood according to LDS definition is the power of God delegated to man. It is God's power that organizes and maintains matter in a useful form. It is God's power through the "breath of life" and light of Christ that powers all living things. Therefore, when you send messages to your legs to walk and they walk you it could be said technically that you are using priesthood power to do so. Congratulations! :mrgreen:

Looking back at the talk of Pres. RMN, he also says that the authority by which women in the church perform their callings is also priesthood authority. "You are given priesthood authority to function in that calling." This again seems to go back to my example about walking, "You didn't know that you were already using priesthood power to do regular ordinary stuff every day!" Yet it completely sidesteps the elephant in the room - that we reserve the performance of many of our most important rituals and visible positions of authority, respect, and honor for men.
Walls wrote:
15 Oct 2019, 07:01
So I ask, what is the point of Priesthood Ordination then? Is it only authority to administer in the church? If everyone has the power (at least endowed members), then why give it to those who are unendowed (boys), and why are we not giving it to women?
Yeah, great questions. This gets confusing because priesthood can mean very different things depending on our definition. 1) is the authority to lead, administer, make decisions, and sign checks in the church. 2) is the authority to perform community rituals. In the kingdom of Israel under the law of Moses the king was anointed to be in charge and the prophet and priests had purview over the rituals. Our church tends to combine these roles under the same umbrella term of priesthood. It is these roles that require priesthood ordination, male genitalia, and for over 100 years the absence of African ancestry was also required. 3) Then there is the broader priesthood definition of the power of God delegated to mankind generally and that does not require priesthood ordination, membership in our church, or even really a belief in God to access. Women have that last definition of priesthood power (and also the power to perform specific delegated tasks relevant to her church assignments).
"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
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by Roy » 15 Oct 2019, 11:29

My answer above may indicate the I do not believe that priesthood is real. That maybe it is just a fancy word that we use to make certain club members more special than other club members. That is not fully accurate of my feelings. I do believe that there is real power in priesthood ordinances. I also believe that historically, we have used very human prejudices, racism, and discrimination to restrict who can perform said ordinances. God appears to have allowed these artificial restrictions to continue for centuries and/or generations without stepping in to correct this.
"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
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by nibbler » 15 Oct 2019, 11:31

It's really hard for me not to make the following translations out of these phrases because it's how I feel leaders use the phrases:

What is said: Women have access to the priesthood.
Translation: Women can find a man and ask them to perform a priesthood function.

What is said: Women already exercise the priesthood in their callings.
Translation: A man with the priesthood asked a woman to do something and the woman did it.

At best they feel like phrases that placate and buy the traditions of fathers a little more time.

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SamBee
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by SamBee » 15 Oct 2019, 12:03

I consider confirmation and the endowment both to be forms of priesthood ordination. There is also evidence in the Bible of women being treated like prophets.

There is also some evidence that JS was moving RS towards being a priesthood auxiliary.

Women bring a different kind of energy to things but as far as priesthood goes, I've always thought women have it, if some leaders would take their blinkers off.

If there was more acknowledgement of it, it would be a good thing.
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DarkJedi
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by DarkJedi » 15 Oct 2019, 15:13

nibbler wrote:
15 Oct 2019, 11:31
What is said: Women already exercise the priesthood in their callings.
Translation: A man with the priesthood asked a woman to do something and the woman did it.
I get what you're saying, BUT, IF you believe the priesthood keys stuff we're almost all in that boat - the bishop (key holder), SP (key holder) or to a lesser extent quorum president (key holder) asks most men to do something and they do it. Every ward calling and every stake calling acts under the priesthood keys of the person who holds them. In that respect men are no different than women.

"Ordinances" (some of which involve keys and some of which don't) are a whole different story.
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Minyan Man
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by Minyan Man » 15 Oct 2019, 19:35

There are other questions that I have. For example: Why does anyone need to be "set apart" while accepting a
calling in the church? I don't want to hijack the topic. If I am tell me & I'll go away. But, it seems to be similar.
Just curious.

AmyJ
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by AmyJ » 16 Oct 2019, 06:42

Minyan Man wrote:
15 Oct 2019, 19:35
There are other questions that I have. For example: Why does anyone need to be "set apart" while accepting a
calling in the church? I don't want to hijack the topic. If I am tell me & I'll go away. But, it seems to be similar.
Just curious.
This is a question of mine too please.

I was "called" to be a R.S. teacher officially - but honestly, I view that as icing on the "calling cake" and mostly necessary from an organization perspective so that everyone knows they don't need to call a R.S. teacher.

I have not been set apart and do not intend to be set apart for this calling. I don't think that having someone lay their hands on my head and give a blessing will change anything about this calling for me and I don't want to mentally deal with the bopping-the-skeptical-side-of-me-to-behave-during-the-custom scenario right now. I guess another way I look at it is that any advantage that would be available from this custom is lost on me because of my current faith narrative - it's not their fault I am where I am, but it's not worth it to me to be set apart.

I accepted this "calling" before it was formally issued because I determined that it was worth it to me to spend some of my resources thinking about what to present to the sisters, researching talks and topics, pulling it all together, presenting it and dealing with my feelings of fraud, disconnect, and discomfort to get there. [OK, for those who would call me on it - some of dealing with my feelings is shoving them into the back corners of the spiritual closet. But I examine my shoved feelings more often then I get the Christmas decorations out of my physical closet, so we're good.]

But there is a good chance that I missed something...

SIDE NOTE: If the leadership ever brought it up, I would probably follow the cultural tradition - but they haven't, so I won't.

nibbler
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by nibbler » 16 Oct 2019, 07:52

It depends on the person.

For me, being set apart in a calling has more to do with pageantry than pragmatism. For others being set apart can be like a faith booster shot - something to give people a little more confidence and determination to handle their calling. Plus there's always tradition.

The church obviously believes it is important. The church's MLS program keeps track of:
  • A person's calling.
  • The date the person was called.
  • A checkbox for whether the person has been set apart in that calling.
A rite, like the rite of setting people apart, is more easily remembered. It stands out from the daily routines.

Maybe it's similar to a new year's resolution. There's nothing stopping people from making a resolution on October 16th, but lots of people make their resolutions on January 1st. It's a new year, it's easier to remember, there's a clearer line of delineation between before and after which helps people with their resolve.

A setting apart could be similar. A memorable line of delineation between before and after.

Roy
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by Roy » 16 Oct 2019, 10:10

DarkJedi wrote:
15 Oct 2019, 15:13
nibbler wrote:
15 Oct 2019, 11:31
What is said: Women already exercise the priesthood in their callings.
Translation: A man with the priesthood asked a woman to do something and the woman did it.
I get what you're saying, BUT, IF you believe the priesthood keys stuff we're almost all in that boat - the bishop (key holder), SP (key holder) or to a lesser extent quorum president (key holder) asks most men to do something and they do it. Every ward calling and every stake calling acts under the priesthood keys of the person who holds them. In that respect men are no different than women.

"Ordinances" (some of which involve keys and some of which don't) are a whole different story.
You are correct in that functionally we all do tasks that are assigned to us from those above us. Except for three main points. 1) Women are prohibited from the positions that hold the keys. They never get to be in charge or see another member of their gender to be in charge. 2) We have over time reserved many tasks of visible honor and respect for the priesthood. From witnessing ordinances, to passing the sacrament, to praying in GC, to a mother holding her baby during the baby blessing - we have restricted women from many honorific duties. And we are not even talking about actually performing ordinances. 3) Our tradition and discourse is thick with honor and deference to the priesthood. I believe that this sets up a culture where a woman can have authority over children and other women but never over a man. Likewise even the authority that a woman can wield over the women and children is still under the direction of a man. (tell me again why some priesthood holding brethren are required to hang out at girls camp.)

I am happy, happy, happy that we are starting to say that endowed "women, married or single, can have priesthood power in their homes regardless of a visit from a priesthood holder." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... r?lang=eng Because I believe that it will lay the groundwork for more important shifts in the future. However, whenever I have heard about how important it was to have the priesthood in one's home, it was always in the context of performing blessings of comfort, blessings of healing, and father's blessings.

President RMN recently said “What could possibly be more exciting than to labor with the Spirit to understand priesthood power — God’s power?”
… “So, I invite you to study prayerfully section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants and discover what the Holy Ghost will teach you. Your personal, spiritual endeavor will bring you joy as you gain, understand, and use the power with which you have been endowed.”

Can a single mother who has "priesthood power in their homes" and who has been invited by President RMN to "use the power ["priesthood power - God's power"] with which you have been endowed" give a late night blessing of comfort or healing to their sick child? Why or why not?

There is something fishy going on when we say that women have priesthood power but cannot use it to do anything that we would normally associate with priesthood power.
"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

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Heber13
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Re: What IS the Priesthood and why is it needed?

Post by Heber13 » 16 Oct 2019, 16:27

Roy wrote:
16 Oct 2019, 10:10
Can a single mother who has "priesthood power in their homes" and who has been invited by President RMN to "use the power ["priesthood power - God's power"] with which you have been endowed" give a late night blessing of comfort or healing to their sick child? Why or why not?
I would say, absolutely yes.

In fact, if someone wanted to try to do a study...you could have several mothers bless their children, and another set of mothers call ministers to their home to give blessings...track both sets of outcomes...and I would put money on it that the outcomes would generally be the same.

I don't think God cares about some of these administrative details as we seem to in the church. I don't know how one would know the difference.

My guess is it comes down more to the faith of the individuals. Do they want to pay respect to the priesthood authority as outlined in the church and respect that, or do they have faith that God will hear the prayers of the honest in heart and mothers who are told by RMN they have the power within them.

It comes back to the questions that started the thread, which seem to be that it begins to fall apart why the priesthood is so necessary after all, when there are so many exceptions provided to allow the honest in heart to receive their just opportunities for God's love.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
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