Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm a Mormon woman, I don't hold the priesthood, and I'm okay with that.

There's been an increase of discussion lately about Mormon women and the priesthood, partially because of this group of women who are seeking ordination and to attend the priesthood session of General Conference tomorrow. If you know me personally, and/or have read my blog (especially this post) for very long, you probably know that this is an issue I feel strongly about. Very strongly indeed.

I would really, really like to call myself a feminist. I personally do consider myself to be one, but I hesitate to officially and publicly label myself as one because I disagree with the opinions of almost all of the self-professed "Mormon feminists" out there. I don't want to be mixed up with them. 

Unlike most of these feminists, I do not feel slighted as a Mormon woman. I have never felt like I am less valued or less worthy as a member of the church because of my gender, even though being a woman means I do not hold the priesthood. I don't feel like I need to hold the priesthood to be happy or fulfilled or important. 

I also know that if it were necessary for women to hold the priesthood to be happy or fulfilled or important, then God would never withhold that from us. I know for absolutely certain that if God wanted women to hold the priesthood then, by golly, women would hold the priesthood. It is as simple and profound as that. He would reveal it to our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and that would be that. The end

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World (a very short but extremely worthwhile read found here), it discusses the importance of gender, the roles and responsibilities men and women have, and how they work together. Here are a couple excerpts:
"Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." 
"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."
I love that. Often "gender roles" are considered to be a bad thing (and sometimes they can be), but if you read the Family Proclamation, specifically these excerpts, then you'll see that God has given us gender roles/responsibilities. I would even be so bold as to say that the Plan of Salvation is built upon the foundation of gender roles because that is central to the family and family is central to the Plan of Salvation. And according to the proclamation and this talk, it means that women's primary responsibility is to nurture their children (if they have the opportunity) and that the responsibility to hold the priesthood, the presiding authority in the home and the church, belongs to the men. And you know what? I totally support that. (Gasp!)

I'm sure that some of you are going to read this and think, "None of this sounds very feminist." You're probably right. You see, my definition of feminism is a little different than most. 

To me, true feminism is embracing the unique, God-given qualities women have been blessed with, and using those qualities to better the world in a way that only women can. It means being feminine. Strong, nurturing, loving, gentle, hard-working, intelligent, sensitive, wise, and so much more. 

As a wife, it means supporting my husband, especially his position as a priesthood bearer and the patriarch of our home. It means being an equal partner with him in our marriage and doing my part to keep our relationship strong and our home happy.

As a mother, it means nurturing, loving, and caring for the spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of my future children... with the help of my husband as my equal partner, of course.

As a single woman, it meant preparing to become a wife and mother, whether I would end up having that opportunity or not. It meant gaining education (both secular and religious), preparing for a meaningful career, and becoming a better person in general.

Anyway... I figure President Gordon B. Hinckley put it best when he said this: 
“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.” 
Well said. 

Also, because I can't help myself, please enjoy what might be my favorite Mormon pick up line of all time. You're welcome. 

“Hey Girl. Wanna hold the priesthood? Come give me a hug.”  Anyone who knows their mormon pick up lines knows this one is a classic.


  1. SO MANY THOUGHTS. (Which is why I haven't blogged about it myself, actually.)

    1) Amen.

    2) You should read this. It rings true to my heart.

    3) There's a difference between priesthood authority--which is used to perform certain ordinances and deals with church hierarchy--and priesthood power--which is the power of God that is available to all worthy saints, male and female. People are getting hung up on seeking authority (which IS NOT OKAY) instead of learning to use the power they already have access to. I'd rather have the power sans authority anyway, because I've got too much other stuff to worry about as it is.

    4) I like you. But I think you knew that already.

    1. I know what you mean about having so many thoughts... I wrote and rewrote this about a thousand times before I published this in an attempt to get it all, and every time I read through it again I remember more things I wish I had said. Ah well.

      Anyway. LOVED that talk about the two trees. I hadn't heard of it before and it makes so much sense. Wish I had her way with words! Also loved the point you made about the distinction between priesthood power and priesthood authority. One of my favorite things about the gospel is how personal it is and how accessible God's power is to us, independent of our gender. So thankful for that.

      Also, I like you too... but I think I've made my Jen-crush pretty obvious. Maybe I'll actually have to come to one of those blogger meetups one of these days after all. ;)

  2. Amen. ...I once heard that Amen should mean "now go to work." And that's just how I feel - I agree and now I'll go to work!

  3. This issue has actually been really bothering me for a long time. I actually first heard of it from a RM friend of mine, and I was shocked and confused. How could any women (or men even) feel this way? How could they not see they important role they already hold?
    However, I do like to try and see it from the other side. The only thing I could think of to compare was when African-Americans could not hold the priesthood for a time. I'm sure there were many--white and black--confused and upset. But there were many that were still faithful and patient nonetheless, and continued being faithful members of the church until that day came. Maybe some of these women feel this way?
    Thank you for the quote from Gordon B. Hinckley. I feel similarly, that I am not bothered that women don't hold the priesthood because I see our gender roles to be different, and I know women hold many other responsibilities. I actually thought Carole M. Stephens' talk in conference today was a great example of how EVERYONE is blessed by priesthood ordinances.
    I do not understand why these women feel this way, but I hope that these women can find the answer of truth they are looking for, but be patient and faithful in the mean time. When ideas and questioning begin debating and protesting is when I think it really becomes a problem.

    1. I agree... I don't understand their views either (obviously), but I am really sorry that they feel the way the do and am really thankful that isn't my struggle. I'm sure it's a tough one to deal with. Hopefully they will find answers to their concerns instead of leaving the church!

  4. Mikaela, angel praises were singing as I read this. Honestly, this is 100% the most perfectly put piece of writing on this topic I've ever found. I love it so very much. Thank you, one hundred fold.