Who was the first LDS leader to pair motherhood and priesthood? What else has changed about priesthood over the course of LDS history?

Welcome back, AMG readers, to my ongoing personal study session on the question of priesthood ordination.  Last week, I left you all with two questions. Here’s the first:

  1. 1.    Can anyone find evidence in A) canonized scripture B) canonized revelation C) the words of Jesus Christ or D) the words of Joseph Smith that indicates the value of gender roles in the plan of salvation? (And yes, we all know that temple marriage is required for exaltation–but marriage does not necessarily mean gender roles.)

Commenter Matelda22spy wrote:

Female prophets in the Bible:
Luke 2:36-38.
Acts 21:9
Exodus 15:20
Judges 4:4
2 Kings 22:14
Isaiah 8:3

Female deacons:
Romans 16:1

Female apostle?
Romans 16:7

“Apostle” has its own meaning in the LDS Church. Maybe we best not count on its biblical meaning being exactly the same? In the Bible it appears to have been more synonymous with “missionary” than “leader.”

For example, in Romans 16:7, a woman named Junia is called “prominent among the apostles.” Meaning she was a missionary, i.e. an apostle? Some editors have changed it to the masculine Junias, but the original text contains the feminine.

Maybe other women have been similarly edited out of the scriptures, and restraints upon them edited in. Joseph Smith himself expressed concern that the Bible had translation errors and corruption, did he not?

Yet if men truly do play every role and serve as every voice/writer in the Bible, I see that as a point against religion, not a point against women. I’m not about to take anyone’s or any Church’s word for it that God expects nothing from me except procreation.

James 1:5

Commenter Michael S. went to the Joseph Smith papers, where he read notes from the Relief Society organization (http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/nauvoo-relief-society-minute-book?dm=image-and-text&zm=zoom-inner&tm=expanded&p=19&s=undefined&sm=none)

“[Prest. J. Smith said] that the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood, hence there should be a select Society separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous and holy— Said he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day”.

This is fascinating evidence to consider given the contemporary LDS emphasis on the priesthood-motherhood dyad / division of labor. The scriptures do not talk about a gendered division of labor in such terms.  They do talk about female prophets, apostles, and deacons.

It also appears that Joseph Smith did not talk about a gendered division of labor in such terms.  He did talk about the Relief Society as a “kingdom of priests” to whom he turned “keys.”

The priesthood-motherhood dyad / division of labor seems to enter  LDS discourse in the middle decades of the twentieth century.  Sonja Farnsworth’s classic study “Mormonism’s Odd Couple:  The Motherhood-Priesthood Connection” finds that “A survey of Mormon writings indicates that motherhood and priesthood were first officially linked in the 1954 revision of Apostle John A. Widtsoe’s book Priesthood and Church Government.” (Please read the entirety of her essay here: http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=975)

Of course, the motherhood-priesthood dyad takes its most formal and commanding shape with the Proclamation on the Family in 1995.  In asserting the eternal nature of gender as we know it on earth in twentieth-century European and Euro-American contexts as a basis for division of church responsibility in church leadership, the Proclamation actually innovates perspectives on gender that are not present in scripture.  The Proclamation has not been canonized as scripture.  Is it a revelation? This is a very sensitive subject because any statement issued by the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles must be regarded with great seriousness. It is also a fact of record that when Elder Boyd K. Packer described the Proclamation on the Family as a “revelation” in an October 2010 conference talk, that language was edited out prior to the talk’s publication in the Ensign.

Is a division of spiritual labor and authority founded in mortal biological differences an eternal principle?  Neither the scriptures nor the words of Joseph Smith appear to suggest so; the Proclamation on the Family does.

(As I was writing this, the phrase that kept coming to my mind was that the essential spiritual significance of mortal biological gender differences must be “hazarded with great diffidence.”  That’s a phrase straight out of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1784) from the section where Jefferson attempts to locate essential significance in mortal biological differences of race. Jefferson attempted to use eighteenth-century science to argue that differences between blacks and whites went deeper than skin tone and indicated essential differences in human capacity.  Science since the time of Jefferson has troubled the idea that “racial” differences are substantial or essential.  Contemporary science also complicates the picture on gender as an essential and dualistic or dyadic difference.  We now recognize that gender differentiation in the human species takes place along a spectrum that includes ambiguously sexed and intersex individuals.  What significance if any is to be assigned to this spectrum of human variation is not clear.)

And now, here’s the second question I asked last week:

2.  How can we know what really counts as priesthood?  Which of the functions we group under the broad umbrella term “priesthood” now are really priesthood-limited responsibilities?

I received a wonderful message from reader Ronda, who reached out to a major historian of modern Mormonism.  His response is here:

 I spent a decade immersing myself in every primary and secondary source I could find that touched on priesthood in order to write Power from On High, and I have continued to ponder the subject in the 18 years since the book was published.  I have not changed my mind on a single, significant point in the process.  Here is my current synthesis:

There were no institutions in ancient times that bore any resemblance either to Aaronic Priesthood or Melchizedek Priesthood as we now have them within the LDS Church.  There are similarities, to be sure, in some names and some functions; but to say that LDS Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood represent a one-for-one restoration of anything ancient does not hold water.

That said, there clearly was a priestly class, sometimes delineated by inheritance, sometimes by individual calling, through which some semblance of order was imposed on whatever structure there was at the time and place—because even at a given time during the New Testament period there were different churches in different areas behaving differently.  Hence, the letters of St. Paul.

In addition to the “called and ordained” priesthood, there was what St. Paul referred to as the “priesthood of all believers.”  More about this a little later.

Both the concept and the form that priesthood took within the LDS tradition were evolutionary and somewhat arbitrary.  For example, the notion of “authority” was what took Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery away from the translation process and to the waters of baptism.  For another two years the word “priesthood” was not even employed with reference to that authority.  Consider the fact that we have only three ordinance prayers (outside of temple rituals, which came much later) that have stipulated wording, and all three pre-date the formal founding of the Church in 1830: the baptismal prayer and the two sacramental prayers.  These are the earliest ordinances and they are the only ones that do not invoke, by name, the priesthood of the officiator.  Why?  Because there wasn’t a thing called “priesthood” at the time the prayers were formalized.  The over-arching names of Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood were not introduced until 1835, and what they meant then was not a one-for-one relationship to their predecessors.  This is why the notation in the History of the Church that the June 1831 General Conference was “the first time the Melchizedek Priesthood had been given” was so problematic—problematic for the dual reasons that it was written in 1838 and applied anachronistically later terminology to an earlier period; and that what we recall as the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood (a similar anachronism) occurred in 1829 and not 1831.  See the problems emerging? 

Likewise, the offices within each priesthood umbrella were patched together somewhat haphazardly and over several years; and the very definition of a priesthood office is arbitrary. That is, we designate offices by tradition and not by function.  (In a circular definition, an office is whatever we say an office is.)  Thus, bishop is an office, but stake president, regional representative, area authority are not, even though functionally they all behave the same way.

The “complete” priesthood did not emerge in 1829.  What emerged then was the “authority” half, the legalistic part.  Sidney Rigdon provided the impetus for the other half shortly after he joined the Church late in 1830.  He traveled to New York to meet Joseph Smith, and within a few weeks was the scribe for a revelation (now LDS D&C 38) that called for the fledgling church to move to Ohio, where the elders would be “endowed with power from on high.”  Rigdon was drawing on Luke 24, wherein the resurrected Christ told the apostles whom he had already ordained (i.e., given “authority”) that they were not yet permitted to take the gospel to the world.  To do so, they needed a second element, which was “power from on high.”  They were told to tarry at Jerusalem until they received that endowment—an event known as the Pentecost that occurred a short time later and is described in Acts 2 (same author as Luke).  Rigdon’s break with Alexander Campbell (Rigdon had been a bishop in the Disciples of Christ movement that Campbell started) came over this issue, with Campbell acknowledging that gifts of the spirit had been part of the ancient church, but denying their legitimacy in the contemporary church.  Rigdon argued the opposite, that gifts of the spirit were essential to the True Church that he was seeking.

It is essential to differentiate between the non-contingent half of priesthood, which is legal authority that holds regardless of the worthiness of the officiator; and the contingent half (“power from on high”), which is the power through which the extraordinary can occur.  Put differently, a baptism performed by a bearer of the requisite priesthood will be recognized by the Church as valid even if he was an adulterer or murderer at the time he performed the ordinance.  But a blessing of restoration of health will be contingent upon the ability of the officiator to tap into the “power from on high.”  It is not automatic, and I suspect you have seen instances where great damage has been done by men who promised, in the context of a priesthood ordinance, something that they could not deliver.

Now, in light of the above statements, consider the following editorial that was published in the Improvement Era in 1931:

“Can any one, without the Priesthood, pray and have his prayers answered?  Or receive the Holy Ghost, with its gifts and manifestations?

The answer is Yes.  Men, women and children who do not hold the Priesthood have had their prayers answered millions of times in the history of Christianity the world over and in the history of this dispensation.  Men, women and children also receive the Holy Ghost after baptism through the laying on of hands.

May one have revelations and visions of heavenly beings, without the Priesthood?

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did so.  In May, 1829, John the Baptist appeared to them, and that was before either of them had been ordained.  It was John, in fact, who conferred the Priesthood upon them.  This function of having visions, of course, was exceptional in their case.

If, then, one may pray, may have his prayers answered, may have the Holy Ghost bestowed upon him, and may exercise many of its gifts, without holding any Priesthood, what is the place of Priesthood on the earth?

Chiefly Priesthood functions in connection with organization.  That is, the greatest need of Priesthood is where there is a service to be performed to others besides ourselves.

Whenever you do anything for, or in behalf of, someone else, you must have the right to do so.  If you are to sell property belonging to another, you must have his permission.  If you wish to admit an alien to citizenship in our government, you cannot act without having been commissioned to do so by the proper authority.

Now, a religious organization, or the Church, is in the last analysis a matter of service.  You baptize someone, or you confirm him, or you administer to him in case of sickness, or you give him the Sacrament or the Priesthood, or you preach the Gospel to him–what is this but performing a service?

Now, when it comes to earthly power to perform a definite service, we call it the power of attorney in the case of acting legally for someone else, or the court and the judge where it is a question of acting for the government.

But in the Church of Christ this authority to act for others is known as Priesthood.”  (“Priesthood Quorums–Why Priesthood At All?” ["All Melchizedek priesthood material is prepared under the direction of the Council of the Twelve"]; Improvement Era 34(12):735, Oct., 1931

I encountered this article while doing a deep search for the priesthood book.  I’ve never seen anyone else refer to it, perhaps because they don’t like what it says for today’s rigidly patriarchal church, and yet it speaks clearly to me what the possibilities are for today.  On the one hand, it acknowledges that women are entitled to the gifts of the spirit, something that was obvious to church members in the 19th century but has been pushed into the shadows beginning in the early 20th century.  On the other hand, it focuses on priesthood as being essentially legalistic.  The overall tone of the article is consistent with women’s exercise of “power from on high,” the spiritual side of our understanding of priesthood, and leaves unanswered the question of women acting in the legalistic aspects of priesthood.

Where does that leave us as we move forward?  In my opinion there is no canonical obstacle to the ordination of women in the LDS Church.  However, I see the situation as analogous to that of blacks and priesthood ordination, in the sense that while exclusion of both groups from ordination has been a matter of policy rather than canonical doctrine, the status quo is so firmly entrenched that it will require a revelation to move the Church to a new position.  In this vein, I find it interesting that William Critchlow, an Assistant to the Twelve, broached the subject in the October 1965 General Conference:  “When He whose business priesthood is wants the sisters to have it, he will let his prophet know, and until then there is nothing we can do about it.”  While that’s clearly not enough to hang one’s hopes on, nonetheless it is significant that he did not slam the door shut. 

And that’s the end of his letter.  Setting aside his final conclusions, the major take-away here I think worth noting is that the organization of priesthood offices and their relationship to administrative offices in the LDS Church has changed over time. Underscoring this point is a wonderful bibliography BYU has compiled of studies on the emergence of priesthood organization published on-line here: http://rsc.byu.edu/es/archived/firm-foundation/28-mormon-administrative-and-organizational-history-source-essay Even a quick glance at this bibliography reveals that the current understanding of priesthood which lumps together priesthood offices, priesthood keys, administrative offices, and institutional authority and then positions these all as the essential complement of motherhood is particular to late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century Mormonism.

The correlation movement in the twentieth-century encouraged LDS people to view our theology as a set of fixed and stable terms.  This was a good way to organize a curriculum that could be taught to a rapidly growing membership around the world.  It does not necessarily tell the whole story of a changing and evolving system of spiritual and institutional administration that our faith’s most careful scholars—like those acknowledged in the BYU bibliography—have richly documented.

In summary: the way it is is not the way it has always been.  It has not always been the case that priesthood is the name under which spiritual and administrative offices are referred to men alone as a complement to the biological function of motherhood.

Which leaves me hungry a) for a semester off from work to read the entire BYU-published bibliography and b) for a clearer understanding of how to differentiate the fullness of the priesthood, the offices of the priesthood, and the keys of the priesthood and what relationship they bear to positions of authority in administering spiritual power and institutional power.

And that is where I’ll leave it for this week, friends.  I await your thoughts.

I hope you will dig into the Sonja Farnsworth essay and, better yet, into the BYU bibliography, and report here what you find.

Parting question:  fullness, offices, keys—what other terms do we use today as LDS people to understand what priesthood is and how it works?

Thank you all for your thoughtful participation in this study hall.  I love that regular Mormon people take their faith so seriously.  I am learning a great deal from you, and I hope you are learning too.

Send your thoughts and queries to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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54 Comments

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54 responses to “Who was the first LDS leader to pair motherhood and priesthood? What else has changed about priesthood over the course of LDS history?

  1. Jeff

    “The Proclamation has not been canonized as scripture. Is it a revelation? ” The 1995 publication date of the proclamation was just prior to the 1996 Hawaii case. The proclamation is probably best viewed as a one page mission statement written in the style of a Franklin Covey personal mission statement. While a lot of thought and consideration probably went into its construction, that’s a far cry from anything resembling a revelation.

    • The Proclamation on the Family is revelation and I have personally heard a number of the Apostles bear witness to that fact. One of those instances:

      “A proclamation in the Church is a significant, major announcement. Very few of them have been issued from the beginning of the Church. They are significant; they are revelatory. And at that time, this was a little more than 10 years ago, the Brethren issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It is scripturelike in its power”. – President Boyd K. Packer, February 8, 2008 (Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity). http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,8027-1-4404-3,00.html

      • Brit

        The Proclamation on the Family, though widely viewed and treated to be on par with scripture and General Conference talks, isn’t equivalent. For one, it’s not published or included with the standard works. It was introduced in a General Relief Society meeting. It hasn’t been voted on/accepted by the church as other revelations/declarations have been. It’s authored by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

        Even the quote you cite says it’s ‘scripturelike’ – that means like scripture, but NOT scripture.

    • reb

      You misunderstand revelation. Thought, consideration, and hard work with confirmation via the spirit are the components of revelation.

      • Brit, aren’t you splitting hairs?! If an Apostle of the Lord says something is ‘revelatory’ and ‘scripture like’, I don’t think anything else matters! I pay attention to what they are referring to and consider that to be of utmost importance.

        Reb, I don’t quite understand you comment. Are you I plying that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve did not put ‘thought’, ‘consideration’, and/or ‘hard work’ into the Proclamation of the Family? Or did I misunderstand you?

      • Brit

        Elder Packer said it’s ‘scripture-like’, not I. If it’s splitting hairs to make a distinction, point your finger at him. It’s simply not scripture and shouldn’t be treated as such. Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain eternal truth. Personally, there’s nothing I disagree with in it, but I think it’s incomplete.

        As to whether or not it’s revelation, first define what revelation means. It has not been handled the same way that other revelations to the church as a whole have been, and has not been included in the canon. If it’s equivalent to scripture, then why was it not put as Official Declaration 3 in the revision of the D&C earlier this year?

    • Bill McGee

      Joanna wrote about this very topic last October when Elder Packer was forced to change his spoken statement that the Proclamation was a revelation to that it is simply a “guide” before it could be published:

      http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/3519/controversial_lds_conference_talk_edited_for_publication

      The relevant quote from her article is: “Speaking live on Sunday morning, Elder Packer said of the Proclamation on the Family, a church statement released in 1995 that innovated theology on the essential and eternal nature of gender roles and has informed much of the Church’s political activity on same-sex marriage: “It qualifies according to the definition as a revelation and it would do well that members of the church read and follow it.” This line has been deleted from the newly-published text version. Instead, the following sentence has been inserted: “It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and follow.”

      So, apparently, in spite of what the Brethren may say about it in private, the official position on the Proclamation is that it is NOT a revelation.

  2. Maybe I am being naive here or too simplistic, or maybe I am missing something (if I am, I apologize), but it seems that there are two questions being raised here:

    1- Can Women receive revelation?
    2- Can Women receive the Priesthood?

    As I see it, the answer to the first question, yes, certainly women can receive revelation. I have never seen an instance where a General Authority said otherwise. As with men, women can only receive revelation for the area they are responsible. I am a Priesthood bearer male member of the LDS Church. Even though I hold the Priesthood, I cannot receive revelation for my neighbor and neither can my wife. But my wife can (and does) receive revelation on behalf of our family (as do I). Additionally, the Relief Society President in our Ward, could receive revelation for my wife. It is all part of stewardship and rights, whether we are male or female! I have rights for some things (ie revelation for my family) but I have no rights to receive revelation for my neighbor. My Bishop, however, has rights to receive revelation for me and for my neighbor, but so does the Relief Society President.

    As for the 2nd question, whether women can receive the Priesthood. The answer seems clear to me that it is no. But that should not take away from women’s importance or significance! President Hinckley said:

    “Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world… They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world…

    “The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.” (http://mormon.org/faq/women-in-the-church)

    I just finished reading a book from F. Enzio Busche who is an Emeritus General Authority (he was the first General Authority called from Germany and was a member of the 1st Quorum of the 70). In his book he talks about the Priesthood and writes:

    “The priesthood is neither male nor female, although it has a male part and a female part. Through the eternal bond of marriage, built on the divine gift of love, the priesthood becomes complete. The roles of the two parts are, of course, vastly different. Heavenly Father has given the female the role of bringing new life to this world. She does so in a physical dimension—by nurturing, tutoring, training, and teaching—and in the wearing of the very eternal virtues of chastity, loyalty, and wholesomeness, which are essential for the very existence of humankind. Our Heavenly Father has given the male the role of providing, protecting, and admiring. Male and female are in many ways mysteriously different and, because of that, there is a natural desire to love one another in harmony with the divine laws as they have been reestablished by the restoration of the gospel. The best way to gain an understanding of the male and female part of the priesthood is to be reminded of a tree. As we look at a tree, it appears to be complete with its trunk, branches, leaves, and blossoms; but we know that another, equally important part of the tree is invisible. The roots—which, quite unseen, lie deeply embedded in the soil—are constantly nourishing and strengthening the visible parts of the tree. The roots do not argue with the trunk. They both enjoy oneness. The temple is the Lord’s essential instrument used to reestablish a true understanding of the male and female parts of the priesthood. In the temple, both men and women wear the robe of the priesthood and are given the garments of the priesthood. Righteous men and women learn that although women are not physically involved in conducting the affairs of the priesthood, no man can excel in his priesthood callings for long without the blessing and care and guidance of a righteous woman. When we listen very carefully in the temple and learn to understand and accept our male and female roles, we will soon see ourselves in our own limitations. Those who concentrate their efforts in developing the purposes and virtues of their own gender will build tender, bonding bridges between men and women on the basis of mutual respect and admiration, inspired by the divine, miraculous power of love. A society that fails to accept the eternal concept of this godly design must pay an unbearable price of confusion of the individual, which can, potentially, lead to chaos, destruction, and the unhappiness of the soul.

    Lamb, Tracie (2009-10-19). Yearning for the Living God (Kindle Locations 2969-2989). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.

    I feel it is right when he said at the beginning, “The priesthood is neither male nor female, although it has a male part and a female part.” I have my roles, my wife has hers. Her roles are NO LESS important than mine. I cannot do her roles effectively and she could not do mine effectively.

    We each respect each other’s roles. We should never belittle the other’s roles. We help each other with the other’s roles. If we adhere to that, we are doing the right thing.

    To me, this feels right! But again – for emphasize – this does not mean that because women don’t hold the Priesthood they take a back seat. Maybe I’m in a special place, but in my Ward and Stake and in surrounding Wards and Stakes, I experience that women are an equal part in the Ward & Stake counsels and in the decision making and in every aspect of Church life. That is how it should be.

    Kelley G. Tedd

    • Dani

      You put your argument quite articulately. Unfortunately for me, it’s the same, stale argument that every male member of the Church has made throughout my lifetime. And for me, your answer feels neither authentic to my experiences nor particularly spiritually enlightening. But that speaks to my subjective experiences — not to what may or may not be the experience of the institution of the Church itself. I suspect my difficulty lies in a great distrust of institutions, in general — formed primarily through my membership in the Church. I confess I am not terribly optimistic about how women like myself can “fit” into the structure of the Church. But then I know many women who are quite content with it, as it stands.

    • EC

      With all due respect, I wonder if you would say “that is how it should be” if a quorum of 12 women wrote a list of men’s and women’s roles and in it, women were encouraged to pursue education, career opportunities, preside over her husband, preside in church, and men were strictly limited to parenting, teaching children in church and teaching other men (under women’s supervision). Such a quick dismissal of all a man could contribute to his church and his community would surely be questioned.

      I think a true follower of Christ would at least honestly consider if they would be willing to accept either role, if not, maybe some thoughtful change is needed.

  3. Holly

    This is so rich and wonderful, Joanna! The work you are doing right now and the resources you are providing are just so fabulous. Thank you.

    The priesthood-motherhood dyad / division of labor seems to enter LDS discourse in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Sonja Farnsworth’s classic study “Mormonism’s Odd Couple: The Motherhood-Priesthood Connection” finds that “A survey of Mormon writings indicates that motherhood and priesthood were first officially linked in the 1954 revision of Apostle John A. Widtsoe’s book Priesthood and Church Government.”

    This is fascinating, especially considering that after World War II, our entire society experienced a shift in what we thought marriage roles meant and what that in turn implied for gender roles. The roles fit a particular time and place and do not fit us now; they cannot fit a world so changed from 60 years ago. We suffer when we try to make them fit.

    A couple of recent books documenting this are Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz and The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today by Andrew J. Cherlin. I especially recommend the Cherlin.

  4. Carrie

    It seems a little odd to me to be splitting hairs over whether the proclamation is a revelation or not. It was given out by the prophet in his official capacity. A bartender didn’t secretly videotape his words and unleash them later for maximum impact, you know? Why would he be allowed to inflict such damage on the church, and the world at large, if the principles contained in it are so very wrong? It has always been my understanding that God would not let the prophet lead the church astray. Besides,1995 was a long time ago; plenty of opportunity for an ‘actual’ revelation to set things straight. I think a lot of us are grasping at straws because we want things to fit more prettily than they do right now as we attempt to meld gospel principles to current social trends. I am sad to realize that so many of my sisters do not feel the love of Christ when they participate in the church. I wish the system was more comfortable for them. However, I also resent the attitude that the Church is some kind of a club, and that if enough of us band together we can affect change. If it is a political organization that changes direction based on the loudest, longest complaints, then we all need to admit that it is not Christ’s church at all, and find somewhere better to spend our Sabbaths. I know people make mistakes, and the gospel is perfect but not necessarily the church, etc. But the prophet? for almost 15 years? C’mon, either the proclamation is truth or it isn’t.

    • FC Levski

      Couldn’t have said it better! Amen, amen, amen!

    • Sonja Farnsworth

      It’s my sense that the Proclamation’s authenticity as Mormon doctrine is compromised. The nuclear family it promotes doesn’t derive from LDS doctrine. Currently, evangelical/conservative Christian organizations, such as “Focus on the Family,” promote the same nuclear family philosophy and have used it since Protestantism’s 19th century proselytizing campaign to make America a Protestant nation. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

      The Church began using family values as a door approach in the late 1970s. Studies the Church commissioned to improve its missionary efforts showed that pro-family language increased a missionary’s chances of being invited into people’s homes and distracted from the Church’s off-putting association with polygamy.

      Mormonism has a more original, less derivative concept of family expressed in the temple ceremony sealing rituals and illustrated by the image of infinity that appears in the mirrors placed opposite each other in the sealing room. http://temples.elds.org/saltlakemormontemple-com/files/2011/04/draper-mormon-temple-sealing.jpg This image suggests that exaltation does not spring from enforcing the boundaries of the traditional family but from transcending them to create an eternal, unbroken, interconnected family of God.

      If the Proclamation represented the sum total of Mormon doctrine on the family, the Church would have nothing new to offer to offer the world than warmed-over Protestantism. Happily, that’s not the case.

    • Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff

      It isn’t canonized. The fact is there are things in that proclamation that the church, SLC. are hovering over. When it is presented for a vote in conference church wide then it becomes official. right now as it stands it is something that has been published BY the first presidency but has gone no further than that.

      • Sonja Farnsworth

        To FC Levski—I read the passage you referred to in which the BOM prophet Jacob advocates monogamy to remedy abuses committed when husbands have multiple wives. I think I understand the point you are making, but it doesn’t relate to the point I was making.

        I didn’t mean to say that because the Proclamation advances monogamy rather than polygamy it isn’t Mormon doctrine. I meant to say that the Proclamation contains too much conservative Protestant pro-family ideology to be Mormon doctrine. Mormon doctrine on marriage and gender is distinctly different from conservative Protestant pro-family ideology. If the Proclamation were canonized, the Church will have canonized Protestant doctrine rather than its own doctrine.

        This is worth pointing out because conservative pro-family discourse codifies gender roles—the gender roles traditionalists use to exclude women from offices of the priesthood. In reality, LDS doctrine undermines gender roles: The temple ceremony is surprisingly egalitarian, referring to kings & queens/priests & priestesses and dressing women in the robes of the Melchizedek priesthood. Joseph Smith called the Relief Society a kingdom of priests.

  5. Jeff

    “C’mon, either the proclamation is truth or it isn’t.” This type of false dichotomy is indicative of what many view as problematic within the church which is the inability to deal with nuance, subtlety, or complexity in any context. But I do think you are correct in some respects which is how those advocating for change will ultimately respond to the church’s accommodations. Some may ultimately be able find a tolerable coexistence, many will decide to leave, and perhaps some will advocate for a reform movement. In any case, it will be fascinating to watch.

    • Rick

      Jeff, I agree with you, and I don’t. I’ll explain. I agree that the concepts are a lot more nuanced than a true/false statement – for example, a reading of the family proclamation doesn’t really produce a checklists of facts to evaluate, but a philosophy and understanding of the way of the world, and to further define family-related issues such as fidelity and chastity. If anything it is more of a recipe.
      In practice, though, it really does become a choice. People have to search their hearts, and utilize their personal revelation. But I think we often go to the Lord asking if this or that specific element is true, when we should be asking “Is this man a prophet? Is this in tune with the Lord? Is the Church true?”
      How does this apply in real life though? The Gospel sets a standard that we should be striving for. I think it’s pretty clear none of us will achieve it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean we lower the standard. We keep doing our best to get as close as we can – our offering, as defined in the scriptures.

    • mormon_wondering

      I agree that life is complex and there are times when members of the Church struggle with nuanced issues. Maybe I’m one of those problematic mormons as I don’t see the false dichotomy you describe. My understanding of a false dichotomy is that it refers to understanding a situation as only having two potential options, but others actually exist and are simply not recognized. What are the other options in understanding the Proclamation? Is there something besides truth or not? I suppose one could go through and pick and choose what parts you feel are true or false. That is your right but it’s still a dichotomous assessment. I also suppose you could argue or discuss the value of the document. He’s probably not quoted here often but years ago Boyd K. Packer said, “some things that are true are not very useful.” I could go on about this idea, but I don’t know that there is much in the Proclamation that is not of significance (i.e. whether you think it true or false most would agree it touches on issues of importance, though some may be of the ‘motherhood and apple pie’ variety, for lack of a better term; they’re important).

      Furthermore I think the source of the proclamation has to be recognized. As much as it might upset your sensibilities the Church frequently expresses an all or none approach to everything from Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and our Church organization. Again, you could argue against this understanding, but God and in turn His prophets do have the right to share the message in this way.

      It’s interesting to me that on one hand our modern media culture attacks any public figure that errs in his or her personal life even if it has little bearing on his or her public role, often calling for their removal from their public role. I don’t see why this expectation of integrity doesn’t extend to religious doctrine (I agree that it often is applied to religious leaders, but I’m speaking of the doctrine). It reminds me of the well-known C.S. Lewis quote, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” I don’t think the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in 1995 (or God who I believe inspired the Proclamation) intended for us to get caught up in nuance and subtlety when considering that document.

  6. Please don’t forget the importance of Motherhood in your quest to understand the Priesthood. Motherhood in it’s Nature is a form of Godliness that men will never have. (A physical connection to a separate consciousness, and the ability to create life.) Why do we need the Priesthood? To perform Ordinances in the name of the Lord. Namely Baptism and Sealing of Families for Eternity, and to perform blessings. That is pretty much it. The Priesthood gives men the opportunity to play an role for God. Yet it will never compare the important Role of Motherhood. I think modern society needs to revere Motherhood more. What would happen to the human race if there were no mothers?

      • Wow – I’m certainly not the first to say this, but fatherhood is like motherhood, not the priesthood. Many mothers do not give birth to their own children and still bond with them. I wish we could give up biological essentialism.

    • Replying to Nancy Ross:

      It’s true that not all women can bear their own children, not all women even have the opportunity to get married and have them. That is an unfortunate thing.

      But I think, that by putting down our biological, our mortal bodies we are falling into the same trap that traditional western culture has fallen into: that our physicality is a flaw, a thing to be happily put behind us as soon as we attain our higher state of being. But Joseph Smith’s teachings about the physical nature of God, about the resurrection, etc would tend to discredit that idea. Children will be resurrected as children, and then their immortal bodies will grow up until they reach that prime age. This suggests something very integrated with our body and spirit, and that the body we have now is a thing we will own in a perfect form for eternity.

      Raising children is the most important thing a mother and father can do. By putting down our sacred role in this – even if after bearing the child we take a very nontraditional approach – the father staying home and the mother working at her job in the genetics lab, for instance – by thinking that this role is belittling simply because we gain it by our very biological nature – we are putting down the very reason we are here: to gain a mortal body. Only a woman (worthy or not) can clothe a spirit in a mortal body. Our bodies, whether fully functioning or not, are remarkable! They are beautiful from the freckle on the tip of our nose to the atoms which make up the molecules of our DNA.

      I do not like the body hating culture, and I think putting down our biological abilities is a form of hating our feminine selves. We are born with our bodies, and with our bodies comes abilities – including a higher propensity for nurturing. Our personalities and our talents may not be defined by our gender, but our role in bringing God’s children to mortality certainly is. Only women can bear children. Men cannot sign petitions, or write letters, or hold protests to change this fact.

      • bam1021

        MarkO/Amu/et.al.: Our physicality is irrelevant to the discussion of potential. Our opportunities to lead and to serve should not defined by our genitalia – something we have absolutely no control over. Yes, clothing a spirit in a tabernacle of flesh is amazing – but you have no control over that process. It just happens. Every female creature on the planet does it, from flies to elephants.

        The notion that women were in awe when told in the premortal councils that they would bear the bodies of children is just silly. Didn’t you already know you were women? What did you think that meant?

        So, trying to turn the biological fact of procreation into a calling equal to – or better than – the priesthood is very much in the vein of “if life gives you lemons make lemonade,” because, historically, you haven’t been given any other options.

        Men have just as much opportunity, and responsibility, to nurture and care for the children they helped create. Women do NOT have a lock on nurturing and compassion – characteristics they seem to claim as uniquely theirs through divine decree. The great exemplar of those traits, however, is Christ, who is a man (and who, i might add, does not have a uterus.)

    • Lyla

      well what about fatherhood? or are we just going to throw that out the window and forget about the fact that fathers are important too? Just because a woman carries and gives birth to a baby, doesn’t mean that it makes her relationship any more important or significant than the father’s. And what about women who, like my own mother, can’t even have babies because their bodies aren’t capable? You might say that some men don’t hold the priesthood, but ultimately that is THEIR choice because they are making poor decisions that make them unworthy. Women, however, don’t have a choice. Besides, shouldn’t women, if you say they are so important, also hold the right to bless and name their children? It’s not fair, and I am tired of hearing this justification.

      Fatherhood=Motherhood

      Priesthood=???

    • Let me clarify, There are roles in society and that is not a bad thing. The role is not the person. The role is is an opportunity, and everyone takes many roles, responsibilities, callings throughout their lives. Being a brother, a sister, Father, cook, bed time reader, Primary President, Student, Mother, Priesthood holder. Some roles are determined by Nature, others by society. We have the right to choose, accept or reject any responsibility or opportunity. But being a Man, I know I will never be a Mother. I recognize that, and there are opportunities I will never experience because of that. Yes I can be a Father, but even that does not provide the same closeness my wife has had with our children.

      As a priesthood holder though, I have recently had the opportunity to baptize my daughter. I felt a closeness to her at that time that I never felt before. Having the responsibility to baptize their children fills a spiritual gap that men have, yet often don’t even realize is there. But it will never compare to the spiritual connection a mother has.

      Yes Fatherhood is the equivalent to Motherhood. But is it really? Maybe if Relief Society was called Sisterhood, and the Priesthood was called Brotherhood, because there are aspect of the priesthood that women already technically have through Relief Society (the organizational stuff which doesn’t even really matter in the grand scheme of things.) The term Preisthood has been used in the scriptures loosely, just like the term Faith. But I believe that the organization of the church comes from inspiration.

      • Brit

        Priesthood *isn’t* called brotherhood, though, and the term itself is not used in the modern church loosely at all. You make some interesting suppositions, but current fact counters all of them.

      • bam1021

        MarkO, you wrote, “Yes I can be a Father, but even that does not provide the same closeness my wife has had with our children.”

        That is a personal failing on your part and has nothing whatsoever to do with either biology or God.

      • @ Bam1021 I was using myself as an example. I didn’t say I wasn’t close to My kids. Don’t judge what you don’t know. My point is a Mother’s love is not the same as a Father’s love. Yes a Man can be nurturing. and caring and play the role of mother and father. But a man can not replace a child’s mother. Children need both a mother and a father. When an adopted child grows up, they often try to find who their birth parents, because It is a part of who they are.

      • bam1021

        You said, “Yes I can be a Father, but even that does not provide the same closeness my wife has had with our children” I assert that it can, and at times, perhaps provides more. My point is that there is nothing magic about a mother’s love that a father cannot achieve. You are describing socialized behavior and not the divine. If you cannot provide the same level and depth of nurturing and love – and I do not know that you cannot – then the fault lies with you and not with God.

      • @ Bam1021 You are still not understating me and I am not going to explain myself because It would take to long, But I will say The level of closeness may be the same or even more. but that does not make it the same. A child knows who it’s mother is. That is enough to make it different. The Child know who carried him or her for nine months. That is enough to make the relationship different, A child is more indebted to it’s mother right from the get go. It doesn’t matter if I am closer to my daughter or not. You are right it isn’t magic. Yet life is still a Miracle. I have witnessed My wife go through the stages of pregnancy and the stages afterwords of nursing three times now. My youngest was born only five months ago. It may not be the same for every mother, but the mother needs the child just as much as the child needs the mother for the next couple months after it is born so the separation is more gradual. I feel it is my responsibility as the father to help in any way I can, but not to get in the way of her desire to be close to her child after it is born.

      • Brit

        You’re arguing yourself into a corner here.

        A child knows its mother if the mother is involved in rearing, caring, and raising it. Case in point – orphans and adopted children. What ‘connection’ do they have to the one that carried them in the womb?

        The same is true of fathers – the child knows them if they are involved in rearing, caring, and raising. There is enough of one child for two fully engaged and involved parents. You don’t need to worry about getting in the way of your wife’s relationship with your newborn by being as equally engaged and involved. In fact, it would probably be better for the child, for her, and for you.

        Still not convinced? Look at it from an eternal perspective. What do we know about our spiritual mother? Absolutely nothing, not even the certainty that she exists. As spirit children, we have only a father’s love to go on. Is that inadequate?

      • I must be speaking Greek. Yes it is just as important for a father to share in raising their children, and to Bond with their children. And Yes I do share with my wife in raising my kids and bond with my kids. Having three, there is definitely enough bonding to go around for both of us. I read to my son every night. I would help feed our youngest more but my wife doesn’t want to give up feeding just yet. And if I didn’t have to work I would spend a lot more time with my kids, and be able to bond with them more.
        But in general, a fathers bond is (slightly) different than a Mothers Bond and that is OK. Evan good because children need to be cared for, but they also need stability and security. But it isn’t a “Contest” of who has the stronger bond. Some families the mother provides the stability and pays the bills, and the Father takes care of the kids most of the time, and that is good too. but at the end of the day the Mother is still Mother, and the Father is still Father.

      • One of the wonderful things about the church is it reminds thick headed men like me to spend time with their kids. and it provides the opportunity for us to create a special bond through the priesthood, and priesthood ordinances.

    • Amy

      MarkO, What would happen to the human race if there were no fathers? Fatherhood=Motherhood. There can be no baby without sperm. If a father chooses to be the main caregiver of the children, he displays the same characteristics that a mother does (nurturing, caring, willing to do service). Serving the same person/people day in and day out, even though it is sometimes frustrating, does that. Just because I have a uterus does not cause these things. Priesthood=?. The church does not seem to have a separate but equal thing for women that compares to being given the authority of the Priesthood.

      This blog post might help you understand where some of us are coming from:

      http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2013/04/on-men-and-heavy-lifting/

      The 46th response (I think–they are not numbered) from Rah to LDS Ruminations is particularly profound.

      • Rick

        Amy,
        I read the blog and comments – including the one you mentioned. I expect that is on one end of the range of points of view. I realize the sarcasm is intended to show the depth of these feelings, but it does ignore some very critical concepts. Where does God fit in this picture? And where does the idea of a prophet fit in this picture?
        To me, it seems like we have to ask ourselves “Does a Prophet preside over this Church?” If yes, then we have to ask the nature of that prophecy? Does the Lord guide the prophet, or does He wait for the prophet to make suggestions and then confirm them (or not) – in the manner of the Brother of Jared? There are scriptural suggestions of both. If it’s the former, then wouldn’t the Lord have prompted the Prohet to make the change if appropriate? Or is the Prophet ignoring the Lord? Or if the latter, is the Prophet (and his predecessors) ignoring the desires and pleas of a part of the congregation? In either case, the suggestion puts the Prophet, and the very concept of Prophets into question.

      • Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff

        I tend to think that most of the time revelation works more like the “brother of Jared” B of J) We do the work and take our work to God. God can then guide us and open our minds to new solutions based on our understanding of how things are. I think that the first version where God just tells the prophet what to do is rare. If God were to work that way there would be a no incentive for most folks to use their heads. So I tend to try to make major choices based on pondering of possibilities. In my own process I might discover that there are other options I have not explored which I can then ponder over and react to. This view makes sense to and works for me.

        A prophet is a man. He isn’t a prefect man. To go with the B of J Idea I think that the B of J must have given a great deal of thought to WHAT he needed and wanted to have happen, and while he might not have understood the physics of what he was asking he figured that God did understand and could make it happen.

        I think that the telling the prophet what to do comes into play when the prophet can’t possibly be aware of a situation and more direct intervention is needed. It is then up to the prophet to react accordingly. Therefore one quality of a good prophet is open mindedness.

      • Amy, I sympathize with women on the whole priesthood issue. I really do. but, I don’t aspire to be a leader in the church. I know a phew people who might, but most men that I know don’t aspire to be a bishop or Stake president, or Elders Quarum president. The value I see in the priesthood is in making men more Spiritual. Most men I know are not very spiritual. They are but they aren’t. There is this Mocho thing that can get in the way of spirituality. But as we try to put God in our lives we can become more spiritual and more nurturing.

        Some men may take the priesthood and claim it as their own authority, which is very unfortunate, because it really isn’t theirs to claim. Maybe if women held the priesthood, this wouldn’t happen as much. But really, There is a very limited amount the Priesthood gives authority for, that is to perform necessary ordinances, such as baptism and sealings, and to perform priesthood blessings. In my home, my wife is the spiritual leader. She is also more leadership positions than I am.

      • Bill McGee

        That’s simply not true. Yes, technically there are only a few things the Priesthood can uniquely do, but that is deceptive. This is about one sex completely controlling the entire framework of institutional power and decision making in a context that deeply affects the life of everyone involved. We are using the Priesthood as a strawman to institutionalize sexism.

      • This is the way I see it.
        Motherhood > Fatherhood.
        Fatherhood + Priesthood = Motherhood.

      • Rick

        Gail,
        We agree on the nature of prophecy and prophets. But your comment
        “I think that the telling the prophet what to do comes into play when the prophet can’t possibly be aware of a situation and more direct intervention is needed. It is then up to the prophet to react accordingly. Therefore one quality of a good prophet is open mindedness.” suggests to me that our Prophet, and his predecessors don’t share that trait. After all, the concept of women holding the priesthood has been very public for most of my life (I remember discussion abut this in the 70’s when I joined the Church), so it’s not like it’s a new concept to them. Would you suggest then, that the Prophets have ignored your concerns?

      • Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff

        I’ll explain with an experience that I’m aware of. In about 1979 there was a quiet decision made by the apostles to make a really hard hitting film on “chastity and the case for waiting until marriage.” I know this because I know the guy who made the film.
        There was a split on printing and disturbing the film. The split was about how open and honest the film was and the whole argument was over what should be put out there for all to view.
        Had the film been presented to church members it might have been rather helpful and opened up new avenues of discussion. As it was it was shelved due to lack of consensus. The older apostles not being fully open to the need for open discussion on the issue of sex.
        Revelation is all about insight. In my work as a psychotherapist I cannot help a person to change unless they are open to the insights that will bring about the change. For instance an addict who is complaining of depression will not be helped by anti-depressants if they continue to drink and consume a drug that is a depressant. I first have to teach this person that the bottle is a major reason why they remain depressed. Once I reach my client in this area they are more liable to stop drinking and let sobriety calm their mind. (Getting them to this place still takes a great deal of work) Once this is done I can send them to the psychiatrist to have the depression, if there is still depression remaining, evaluated. Without the basic insight nothing else will work.
        We don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. The priesthood issue and blacks was such a hotbed of prejudice that it took two men with insight and a desire to bring about change. (David O and Spencer K) Both of these men were sensitive to the issue and had the insight needed to bring about the long needed change. Now there is admission, albeit quietly, that the whole thing WASN’T doctrine.
        The above being said I would like to think, hope that there is a desire to end sexism within the church. I view the women and priesthood more as a practical issue. Personally I have no desire to serve as a Bishop but I do have a desire to use the priesthood to bless and to serve. I do believe that in the early history of the church this may have been done. This will have to be a question for the group at large.

      • bam1021

        More on the Revelation on Priesthood:

        1. President Lee was openly and aggressively opposed to giving Blacks the Priesthood. In spite of the good things he did, he was also a racist. His personal beliefs caused him to shut down an earlier attempt to give Blacks the Priesthood in the 1960s.
        2. What we do as members DOES influence policy. President Kimball’s decision to seek clarity from God was based on an article in Dialogue which showed there was no doctrine behind the ban. His personal copy of that issue (he read Dialogue? Gasp!) is heavily underlined and has many notes in the margins showing that it deeply influenced his thinking.
        3. In the digital footnotes of his biography, written by his son, Pres. Kimball said that part of his sense of urgency to get this finished is because he KNEW his successor – Pres. Benson – would NOT do it. Benson had also voted previously against giving the Priesthood to Blacks along with Pres.Lee.

  7. reb

    The “church organization changes over time” points are neither unsurprising nor off-putting to me. Any familiarity with the Bible clearly demonstrates that God alters His organization and commandments to work best according to mankind’s strengths and weaknesses at the time. The law of Moses allowed for slaves and women were virtual nonentities. Does that make Moses any less of a prophet or the current church less true because it’s not an exact match? It’s odd to expect that God would have dumped an entire, fully-formed organizational structure onto a young man struggling to keep up in 1829.

    Does any of this mean women will receive the offices of the priesthood? I have no idea. However, don’t allow that to distract you from the fact that women very clearly wield the power of the priesthood, which is, quite frankly, the more important point.

  8. Moss

    Oh, wow, I’m getting all light headed up here on this pedestal!!!

  9. mike

    @Nancy

    I have no problem accepting the idea of specified roles for men as priesthood holders to counterbalance the roles of women as the bearers of children. However, in my personal opinion I feel that motherhood and priesthood are not on equal footing. In fact, in the eternal scheme of themes I would humbly hold motherhood as the Lord’s greatest calling granted to men or women, or as David O. McKay put it, “the noblest calling in the world.”

    I have often wondered what it was like in the premortal life when all of God’s sons and daughters had sufficiently progressed, improved, and prepared (over a period of eons) to be able to come to earth and fulfill the mission that God had created for us. What was it like when we learned, or perhaps when it was solemnly announced to us, that God’s daughters would be given the sacred role of bringing God’s own children to earth and into the mortal existence that we had all longed for, and which God Himself had longed for?

    I can imagine the awe that we must have felt for these women. I can imagine myself practically kneeling at the feet of God’s daughters with the greatest respect and gratitude for providing me with a way to come to earth and progress on God’s eternal path. President McKay was correct when he said that the “bringing of children into the world bears with it great responsibilities and opens to view the noblest purpose of life, namely, a co-partnership with deity ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.'”

    I certainly cannot remember what I learned or what I actually felt when the concept of motherhood was revealed to me in the premortal life, but I cannot imagine that I would have thought the priesthood, as great and important as it is, could hold a candle to the sacred nature and calling of motherhood. There are so many things that we do not understand, and do not remember, that I think we should be careful not to forget (or involve) the divine when discussing these types of topics.

    • EC

      I completely agree that parenthood is a wonderful opportunity to learn about and become like our Heavenly Parents. As I have experienced motherhood, I have truly connected with the divine and I have learned that it is absolutely critical for both parents to be involved with the day to day aspects of parenting and serving their children in order to learn and grow.

      One thing that frustrates me about the priesthood=motherhood argument is it seems to imply that if I held the priesthood I wouldn’t be a mother. Of course I would! I would be a mother who holds the priesthood, just like my husband is a father who holds the priesthood. It isn’t an either or thing!

  10. Mark

    I like what Richard Bushman in “Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling” summated: “The Priesthood had one purpose in every age: exaltation. Rather than being a government hierarchy or a corporate organization, the Priesthood held the sacral power to bring people into the presence of God. The revelation said that “in the ordinances thereof the power of godliness is manifest””.
    I have never viewed exaltation as a gender issue except for the fact that it appears necessary to have a spouse (Adam coupled with Eve, female coupled with male) in order to receive exaltation in its fulness. If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is authorized by God to perform saving ordinances that God has said are necessary than I suppose it is up to those currently in charge of the church to decide how to go about making those ordinances known and administering them to the world. If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not authorized by God to act in His name then it is a total farse and there’s really no “priesthood” to even speculate about. So, (a) exaltation – the purpose of this whole “game” – is freely open and equally available to all males and all females and, (b) the only vote you and I are ever going to have in who administers those ordinances is as a sustaining vote either in “favor of” or “not in favor off”. As for me – I don’t really care. I don’t waste time or appointment myself to lead or join the crowd in “lobbying” over the issue of whether my Bishop or Stake President is a man or a woman. I have no influence nor do I really want any to make that call. If mistakes have been made – and there have been and will continue to be errors and mistakes in LDS Church administration – God will see to it that they eventually get corrected (i.e. the priesthood available to all males). What I do care about and need encouragement and help with is aligning my very will – body, soul and mind to Jesus Christ. Really – nothing else matters.

    • Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff

      Kimball read some Dialogue? WOW. I’ve got family who knew him well. He didn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body. It is good that he did pursue the right thing. This is one of the good things that came about while he was prophet.

  11. Pingback: Volume 2.18 (April 29-May 5) « The Nightstand @ Weightier Matters of the Law

  12. xenawarriorscientist

    Some interesting thoughts here about the nature of priesthood and how “power” and “authority” to act in the name of God are two very different things.

    http://rationalfaiths.com/an-email-from-greg-prince/

  13. Jonathan

    The Family Proclamation isn’t doctrine, but it contains doctrine President Julie Beck’s recent article in the March 2011 Ensign, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” which includes the following paragraph citing a November 1995 statement in the Ensign by President Hinckley.
    What is it we hope this rising generation will understand and do because of what we teach them? The answers to that question as well as the key elements of the doctrine of the family are found in the family proclamation. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) said that the proclamation was “a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices” that this Church has always had.

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