Mormon Doctrine: Priestesses

By: Mormon Heretic
March 25, 2013

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, speaks at the 182nd General Conference, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. Dibb is LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson's daughter. Mormon women routinely speak at these conferences. In April, LDS women are scheduled to offer prayers as well, an apparent first in the faith's history.

There has been a  lot of buzz in the bloggernacle lately.  A Facebook group was created in February called Let Women Pray in General Conference.  To the surprise of many, Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack is reporting that women are scheduled to pray in General Conference for the first time next month.  Is this a coincidence, or evidence of activism working?

If women pray in General Conference next month, it is

  • evidence of activism working. (66%, 61 Votes)
  • about time! (22%, 20 Votes)
  • an inspired decision by our leaders. (10%, 9 Votes)
  • a coincidence. (3%, 3 Votes)
  • something else. I'll add my answer below. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 93

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There is another group that has put together a blog called Ordain Women, with the catch phrase “MORMON WOMEN SEEKING EQUALITY AND ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD.”  There are photos of men and women publicly affirming their advocacy of women being ordained.  Will such activism work?

Do you think the website Ordain Women will help or hurt the cause of female ordination in the LDS church?

  • Make no difference (38%, 37 Votes)
  • Help (32%, 31 Votes)
  • Hurt (15%, 15 Votes)
  • I don't know (15%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 97

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I thought it would be interesting to continue my series on the book Mormon Doctrine.  (I’ve previously discussed what Elder McConkie said about Blacks and Catholicism), but this post will be a little different.  While Bruce made changes to both of those previous entries between 1958 and 1979, apparently no changes were necessary regarding his entry on Priestesses.  Here’s what both the 1958 and 1979 versions say:

Priestesses.  See CALLING AND ELECTION SURE, CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, ENDOWMENTS, EXALTATION, KINGS, MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD, PRIESTHOOD, PRIESTS, QUEENS.  Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them and are not ordained to offices therein, but they are entitled to all priesthood blessings.  Those women who go on to their exaltation, ruling and reigning with husbands who are kings and priests, will themselves be queens and priestesses.  They will hold positions of power, authority, and preferment in eternity.

Let’s look closer at this.  “Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them…”  I’ve stated previously that Michael Quinn says that women receive the priesthood as part of the endowment ceremony, while Jonathan Stapley disagrees.  My mission president (back in the 1980s) said that women have held the priesthood for years as part of their work in the temple.  As I listened to the initiatory ordinance closely this week, I noticed an interesting bit of wording.

When priesthood ordinances are typically performed outside the temple (blessing the sick, confirmation, ordination, etc), men pronounce that the blessing/ordination is performed “by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood.”  However, in the temple, the ordination is performed by one “having authority.”  The phrase “Melchizedek priesthood” is specifically absent.  Furthermore, the proper name of the temple garments that both men and women wear are called “the garment of the holy priesthood”  and during the endowment, men and women are clothed in the robes of the holy priesthood, and given the right to officiate in the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.  It is clear that men hold the priesthood in the temple, but if women don’t hold the priesthood, why are they wearing the garment of the holy priesthood?  Why are women wearing the robes of the holy priesthood?  Why are women told in the temple that they are prepared to officiate in the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood?  (Go listen for these phrases if you are not familiar with them.)  It would seem my mission president disagrees with Elder McConkie that “Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them…”  I’m pretty sure that female temple workers perform the same initiatory ordinance (substituting female pronouns as necessary) using the same wording and “having authority” to perform the ordinance.  If they do not hold the priesthood, under what authority are they performing the ordinance?

As young men, we are drilled into us the definition that “priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God.”  I don’t see how female ordinance workers can be working under any other authority than the priesthood.  Under the heading PRIESTHOOD, Mormon Doctrine states (identical in 1958 and 1979 versions)

As there is only one God and one power of God, it follows that there is only one priesthood, the eternal priesthood.  Thus the Prophet taught:  All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it.”  (Teachings, p. 180) Also “Its institution was prior to the foundation of this earth, or the morning stars sang together, or sons of God shouted for joy,”‘ and is the highest and holiest priesthood, and is after the order of the Son of God, and all other priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same are are held, controlled, and directed by it.”  (Teachings, p. 167)

It is, however, proper and common to speak of the two great orders of priesthood as priesthoods; hence, the revealed statement, “There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.”  (D&C 107:1; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 80-183)

[emphasis in original]

McConkie says there is only one priesthood.  Do women only hold the priesthood in the temple?  (I’ve talked to a few female temple workers and they disagree as to whether they really hold the priesthood, or are merely acting under the authority of the priesthood.) Concerning PRIESTHOOD OFFICES Elder McConkie writes,

Each office is an ordained calling or assignment to serve, on a basis of primary responsibility, in a specified field of priestly responsibility.

The priesthood is greater than any of its offices.  No office adds any power, dignity, or authority to the priesthood.  All offices derive their rights prerogatives, graces, and powers from the priesthood. Anyone who serves in a segment of the circle must possess the power of the whole circle.  No one can hold an office in the priesthood without first holding the priesthood.

Thus it is that priesthood is conferred upon worthy individuals, and they are then ordained to offices in the priesthood; and thus it is that all offices in the priesthood and in the Church are specifically designated as appendages to the priesthood; that is, they grow out of the priesthood, they are supplemental to it, they are less than the priesthood in importance.  (D&C 84:29-30; 107:5.)  It follows that it is greater and more important to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, for instance, than it is to hold any office in that priesthood.  It is greater, accordingly, to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood than to hold the office of elder or of an apostle, though, of course, no one could be either an elder or an apostle without first possessing the higher priesthood.

Further, there is no advancement from one office to another within the Melchizedek Priesthood. Every elder holds as much priesthood as an apostle or as the President of the Church, though these latter officers hold greater administrative assignments in the kingdom.

[emphasis in original]

I can see this be argued both ways:  women hold the priesthood by virtue of the endowment (else how can they administer the initiatory, signs and tokens?) though McConkie specifically denies that women hold the priesthood in his definition of PRIESTESSES.  However it could also be argued that women have the priesthood without holding an office, so there is no need to give them an office because they already hold the most important part: the temple priesthood.  “It follows that it is greater and more important to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, for instance, than it is to hold any office in that priesthood.

If women hold a private priesthood in the temple, it seems that really doesn’t matter to the people at Ordain Women.  They want a more public role of equality.  Concerning the entry for PRIESTHOOD OFFICES (also unchanged between 1958 and 1979 editions),Why can’t girls become deaconesses and pass the sacrament like their brothers?  Why can’t women become bishops, or bless the sick?  I’ve stated previously that women held the priesthood in ancient Christianity, baptizing and administering the sacrament, and even within the LDS church, women could bless the sick by the laying on of hands until 1946.  Is this another incorrect policy (like the new heading in the new Official Declaration 2) that needs to be removed by revelation?  Curiously the wording in OD 2 seems to indicate that ‘“all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33).’  McConkie clearly notes that “officers hold greater administrative assignments in the kingdom.”  How does this follow from 2 Nephi 26:33?

What are your thoughts?

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42 Responses to Mormon Doctrine: Priestesses

  1. Hedgehog on March 25, 2013 at 2:51 AM

    When I think about it, which I mostly don’t because it just gets so tiring a thing to have to think about, the whole system as it is set up now seems off somehow. On the one hand we have “priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God”, which ought to make it very special, but on the other hand it is pretty much seen as a rite (and right) of passage for boys growing up in the church, and so appears commonplace and mundane, and not special at all. Consequently I just don’t seem to be able to get excited about anyone’s ordination. The whole hierarchical atmosphere to the Melchizedek priesthood doesn’t make any sense, if it is all the same priesthood, yet for some reason guys seem to get worked up about it anyway. Seems mad to me. I can see there might be different offices, I can’t see why some have to be, or are seen as ‘more important’ or ‘higher’. I agree with those who say the whole priesthood thing, and administrative authority have become hopelessly entangled. I see no reason why women should be excluded from holding the Priesthood. I wouldn’t like it to be a Priestesshood as some would seem to do, since I hate been classified by gender, and that would only solidify the classification. On the other hand I don’t want to step into the whole hierarchical structure as it stands… So yeah, it’s just so tiring a thing…

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  2. LDS Anarchist on March 25, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    My thoughts concerning this topic are all over the place. There are so many things to take into consideration. I couldn’t do the topic justice in a comment, so I’ll just remain silent (from this point on) and let others voice their opinions.

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  3. LDS Anarchist on March 25, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    Actually, I will make a couple of observations on this issue, because it may end up having prophetic import.

    Isaiah chapters 2-14 were quoted by Nephi because these prophecies would be fulfilled again in the last days. How do we know this?

    But behold, I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness; in the which I know that no man can err; nevertheless, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.

    Wherefore, they are of worth unto the children of men, and he that supposeth that they are not, unto them will I speak particularly, and confine the words unto mine own people; for I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them. (2 Nephi 25:7-8)

    So, with this understanding, what do we find in Isaiah 3, which was quoted by Nephi?

    As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isa. 3:12)

    Isaiah then goes on to describe these daughters of Zion that rule over the people. Nephi later launches his own prophecy of the same events, but in much plainer language. I notice some similarities between Bephi’s prophecy of the apostate churches of God in 2 Nephi 28 and Isaiah’s prophecy of the wicked daughters of Zion in Isaiah 3.

    Isaiah says, “The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

    “What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.”

    Nephi says, “They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.

    Isaiah says, “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:”

    Nephi says, “They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.”

    Isaiah prophesies at length about the fine clothing of the wicked daughters of Zion who rule the Lord’s people. Nephi also mentions fine clothing.

    So, I wonder, could this prophecy of Isaiah be referring to women receiving the priesthood at some point, becoming “rulers,” and then beautifying the church buildings and themselves from the coffers of the poor?

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  4. Mandy on March 25, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    Lest we forget, it was not female priesthood holders who built a 5 billion dollar mall with church funds on church property. So, no, I don’t think that passage in Isaiah is referring to women who hold the priesthood. Isaiah (and many OT prophets) tends to use women as a symbol for members of the church and the church or husbands as a symbol for Christ. I think this scripture is referring to the general materialism of ALL church members in the last days. It’s really easy to find critical statements about women in the scriptures (they were written by men), but most of these are metaphors and shouldn’t be taken literally to denigrate the nature or qualities of women or to assume they would abuse power more than men do. Also, there are tons of prophecies in Isaiah, so I don’t think it’s helpful to focus in on one as the sum meaning of Nephi’s statements.

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  5. Jenn on March 25, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    The first poll should have allowed multiple options- I would say “activism worked”, “about time” AND “an inspired decision”. It can be all three.
    I feel like the “women already have the priesthood in the temple” has been thoroughly played out elsewhere recently, but I think it’s a load of hooey (I don’t believe I’ve ever typed that expression before). I think women have “something like the priesthood” in the temple because the temple was designed by a man who had visions of female priestesshood that never came to pass (Joseph Smith). But it is SO not the same thing. I, as a women, couldn’t care less about the actual authority to do God’s will or whatever (but then I don’t have much of a testimony of the priesthood as an exclusive power), but I think it is a crying shame that because of the lack of “priesthood” women are kept from doing so much good in the church, of sharing burdens and fully supporting each other. There is no reason the leadership potential of women should be kept to only RS/primary (and then, only under the direction of a man). My brother has had leadership callings for the last decade that have kept him from spending sundays with his family. Why not switch off and let his college-educated wife do her turn at church and let him be with the kids for a little while? Why not let teenage girls interview female leaders when they need to discuss issues of morality/repentance? I don’t really care about ordination if we just break down the male-only hierarchy structure in the practical matters of the church. Why not have female sunday school presidents, female ward clerks?

    LDS anarchist- that’s a very specific translation to a very broad and varied prophecy. Frankly, it’s a bit insulting to say that women don’t have the priesthood because of some assumed mistakes they would make around vanity, when it was the MALE general authorities who built a mall with a Tiffanies and Porsche store. I’d argue the 2nd article of faith says that our opportunities shouldn’t be decided by the (supposed future) sins of others.

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  6. ji on March 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    What are your thoughts?

    I think we sometimes look at things the wrong way. The Lord our God has given us a tremendous gift — and he has given it so that EVERY man in the Church, and EVERY woman’s husband in the Church, can participate in the work of priesthood ordinances, where the power of Godliness is made manifest to all of us. Not just to a privileged caste, not just to those with certain academic degrees and credentials, but to every man. Wow! Where was it ever so before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How wondrous and great…

    To some, the ways of God and of God’s Church is an offense, and to others a stumblingblock. That’s sad, but it has always been so.

    We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, to [reach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. Maybe man here means men or women, but still it is by calling — and whenever someone is called, it is better to celebrate and honor that person’s calling rather than to bemoan one’s not being called. This has been taught to men for a long time in the Church, as some men are disappointed when other men are called to some offices or positions but they are passed over — we learn to deal with these things and to find happiness in serving where we are called, with faith, hope, and charity. Indeed, with faith, hope, and charity, all of us will one day find our place in the celestial kingdom of our God, where eye has never seen nor ear heard of the wonders our God has prepared for us.

    The priesthood is sacred. We ought not argue over sacred things. That’s my thought.

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  7. Jenn on March 25, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    I’m having a hard time figuring out if Ji’s comment is satire or not.
    “he has given it so that EVERY man in the Church, and EVERY woman’s husband in the Church, can participate in the work of priesthood ordinances, where the power of Godliness is made manifest to all of us. Not just to a privileged caste, not just to those with certain academic degrees and credentials, but to every man.”
    Do you not see that you just completely left out the female half of the church? To be fair, you put “woman’s husband” which I suppose is a nice consolation prize for the women lucky enough to be married to worthy priesthood holders in this life. Women can participate in the priesthood by being acted upon, not by being the one doing the act. This is a HUGE difference. By the priesthood only being available to males, we ARE creating a caste/credential system. I don’t have the write genitalia, so I’m lacking the credentials to be a sunday school president. Hm.

    As for not arguing over sacred things- this is a relatively new idea in the history of the gospel. I think you’d find in Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s time, debating theology was part of usual Sunday attendance. If no one had been willing to “argue over sacred things” in the 60s and 70s, the blacks might still not have the priesthood. I agree, it needs to be treated with respect, but that doesn’t mean don’t question it. As a church that believes in personal revelation as strongly as we do, we should be encouraging people to ask questions and find answers.

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  8. ji on March 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    I choose to see the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church that carries it as a beautiful and wondrous gift — I marvel at its breadth and depth — I thank God that I found it (or it found me) and that I can participate with it. No, my post wasn’t satire — it was honest expression.

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  9. Jenn on March 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    I’m glad you find such joy in the gospel, truly, I’m just confused as to the application to the discussion at hand. Your comment struck me as odd, that in a discussion on why women should/shouldn’t have the priesthood, a comment could completely fail to acknowledge women in any way.

    The gospel may be true; but the church is subject to change. The church gospel as it is taught today is hugely different from what was taught in 1840, 1890, 1920, 1960… and will probably differ from the gospel as taught in churches 30 or 40 years from now. The fact that our church allows for that kind of change, through revelation, is wonderful!
    Change is not antithetical to the church; I’d say it is foundational. Now, whether or not THIs change (women having the priesthood) should happen is of course up for debate, and should be based on revelation; but revelation frequently only comes about when the church is “ready” for it, when leaders are asking the right questions and the Lord perceives that the people are ready to follow.

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  10. Mike S on March 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    #9 Jenn: …revelation frequently only comes about when the church is “ready” for it, when leaders are asking the right questions and the Lord perceives that the people are ready to follow.


    Polygamy ended when external pressures mounted enough that a revelation was received.

    Banning blacks from the priesthood and the temple ended when external pressures mounted enough that a revelation was received.

    Banning women from praying in sacrament meeting ended when external pressures from the US Equal Rights Movement existed.

    Changing the endowment in the temple occurred when people were found to be uncomfortable with some of the wording.

    Garments changed from external pressures from the one-piece ankle/wrist length garment revealed to Joseph Smith to the ones we have now – two-piece and literally feet of length removed from the arms and legs.

    Ultimately, changes in the Church have to come from the top to be accepted – whether it’s merely a change in policy or a change in doctrine requiring a revelation – but the vast majority of changes seem to have been a response to external pressures.

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  11. CS Eric on March 25, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    I’ll grant that the Church makes some changes in response to changes in society, but not at the pace some claim. Take polygamy, for example. The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was passed in 1862, Reynolds v United States was decided in 1878, and twelve years later, in 1890, Wilford Woorduff issued the first Manifesto.

    I would expect similar changes to happen at a similar breakneck speed.

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  12. Howard on March 25, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    CS Eric,
    I don’t know what kind of point you are attempting to make about “breakneck speed” but there is no doubt that OD1 came about via. outside pressure:

    The 1890 Manifesto was a response to mounting anti-polygamy pressure from the United States Congress, which by 1890 had disincorporated the church, escheated its assets to the U.S. federal government, and imprisoned many prominent polygamist Mormons.

    Have you ever read OD1? The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people…

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  13. Frank Pellett on March 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    The statement given about the manifesto afterward flatly contradicts that OD1 was from outside pressure, rather than by divine direction:

    “… I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. …”

    You can’t say there is no doubt without dropping statements you simply don’t agree with.

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  14. CS Eric on March 25, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Yes, I have read the Manifesto. My point is that it takes more than a new law, opinion by the Supreme Court, or a poll in the Bloggernaccle to get the Church to move. The situation almost has to reach the breaking point before there is a change.

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  15. Howard on March 25, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Come on Frank, that’s a ridiculous thing to say! What occasioned the divine direction if it wasn’t outside pressure? The US Government had the church firmly by the nuts and was threatening castration! Are you arguing that was merely coincidence?

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  16. Frank Pellett on March 25, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    I’m sure I’ve said far more rediculous.

    The point (which I think CSEric was trying to make) is that if it was outside pressure, it would have happened at least a dozen years before. The timing is too far off. It’s like your causation of the ERA with women praying in sacrament meeting. The ERA had been in existence for quite a long time before, and the Church turning against it did not change having women pray. Similarly, the lack of polygamy charges in the last 50 years has not meant the Church going back to it.

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  17. Howard on March 25, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    You seem to be confused and in addition you appear to have confused me with with Mike S. regarding ERA and prayer.

    When we wait on our prophets we get minutia like a change in missionary age. What of substance have we received in our lifetimes by waiting?

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  18. Frank Pellett on March 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    The amount of change in our lifetimes has been enough that we’d have a hard time recognizing all the aspects of it if we were to revert.

    There’s also “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (paraphrased)

    And yes, I did confuse you with Mike S – must be something aroung the ears.

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  19. Will on March 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Rather than trying to find a reason behind why some decisions have been made in the past (e.g. Polygamy and Priesthood), I have found that following the Prophet is the best practice. This sounds sunday-schoolish, naive or sophomoric; but that is only true for those with a secular testimony. I have a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon – a spiritual witness that it is true. With this, the rest falls into place, including the following a living prophet. This is augmented by a witness that what he is teaching is the word of God. This has served me well. If the priesthood or any other policy decisions change, I will seek confirmation as I have in the past. This is my 5 mile, bird’s eye view of the subject.

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  20. Howard on March 25, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    I follow the Spirit which has turned out to be accelerated custom tutoring compared to following the prophet which amounts to very conservative general advice. But if one cannot hear the Spirit well enough to walk with him I agree follow the prophet which today largely means obeying while marching in place and enduring to the end. I guess you’ll learn the rest in the next life.

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  21. brjones on March 25, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Come on, guys (and by that I mean the royal ‘guys’). We all know that when the prophet speaks, the thinking is done.

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  22. graceforgrace on March 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    #10 Mike, #9 Jenn,

    I agree with both of you on those points.

    I believe that for the church to be “ready” for something, for most members it really just needs to be sent from the top and most of them won’t question the decision.

    I think there is a growing number of people who would like to see women in more leadership roles and the pressure that will be placed on top authorities will come mostly from within. So in a sense I predict that at some point, due to pressure (mostly internal pressure) women will have a more active role in the priesthood.

    Also, I wrote a post ( couple months ago asking women about their thoughts on “holding” the priesthood. I was surprised that most of them were fine with their role in the church and with the priesthood. There was quite the lively discussion.

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  23. Douglas on March 26, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Sheesh. This liberal baiting is getting tiresome. Ok, folks, let’s get back to basics:

    1) WHOSE Priesthood is it? If it’s the Lord’s, then HE will decide to whom He shall confer it upon and when, and not according to what someone presumes will happen. If it’s not HIS, then it’s a moot point.

    2) I was investigating the Church about the time the PH revelation came through. It was actually a time when the heat was off. Had the PH leadership been moistening their collective fingers and testing the wind, they’d had done it about ten years sooner.

    3) Most women I have observed perform their callings with a zeal and steadfastness that their husbands or the men in general would do well to emulate. Were the Lord to include women in on the PH thing, they’d do fine, IMO. The issue is NOT qualifications; it’s the Will of the Lord period. If you don’t believe that, then you’ve nothing useful to contribute to the discussion as the issue is therefore, to you that believe not, moot.

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  24. brjones on March 26, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    Douglas, you’ve essentially summarily ended the entire discussion by stating that anyone who doesn’t believe the current state of priesthood is the will of the lord needs to stay out of the conversation because they obviously don’t believe. Doesn’t that sort of negate the entire point of the original question? Can you not concede that there may be some people who question whether the status quo is actually the will of the lord yet who are somehow still believers in the truthfulness of the church? If you honestly can’t see that possibility, then I would suggest it may be you who has nothing useful to contribute to the discussion. Like it or lump it may work for you personally, but I don’t think it’s a particularly helpful point of view in a discussion that is meant to be inclusive of different perspectives.

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  25. LDS Anarchist on March 26, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    There is another chapter of the Old Testament that comes to mind, 1 Samuel 8.

    The chapter heading says, “The Israelites seek for a king to rule over them—Samuel rehearses the nature and evils of kingly rule—The Lord consents to give them a king.”

    There’s that word “rule” again. Probably has no application whatsoever to ordaining women to priesthood, though. Just my mind imagining prophetic seeds being planted where there are none.

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  26. Douglas on March 26, 2013 at 3:28 AM

    #24 – Brjones, the issue isn’t whether women should hold the PH or not, but WHO decides and HOW does a change, if one is forthcoming, come about? Either you believe that the PH is of the Lord, and the CoJC,LDS is the body authorized to administer it, or else, what are you concerned about? Do the Brethren indeed receive revelation and let the chips fall where they way, or do they take surveys and polls and work with focus groups? It seems to me that those who are presuming to tell the Brethren, and, by inference, the Lord, how to administer the things of the Lord are either simply carping in their unbelief (which they perfectly have free agency to do until Judgement Day), or, they’re not humble enough to just let things happen in their good time. Which, pray tell, is it?

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  27. Howard on March 26, 2013 at 5:48 AM

    The problem is in practice it doesn’t work the way you think it does or want it to. So catch up Bro! According to President Kimball in a litter to his son regarding OD2: Revelations will probably never come unless they are desired. I think few people receive revelations while lounging on the couch or while playing cards or while relaxing. I believe most revelations would come when a man is on his tip toes, reaching as high as he can for something which he knows he needs, and then there bursts upon him the answer to his problems. In addition he admits he had to overcome his own bias and do months of work to receive this revelation. So God hasn’t tapped a LDS prophet on the shoulder and offered a course correction in a long time, probably not since Joseph.

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  28. Jenn on March 26, 2013 at 5:51 AM

    I don’t think anyone is proposing we take the Prophet out of the equation and simply turn it into a democracy. The options definitely are not limited to “keep quiet and let the brethren decide” and “don’t trust in modern revelation”.

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  29. brjones on March 26, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I also think it’s worth noting, Douglas, that even by the church’s own standards, not every policy in the church is revelatory in nature, blacks and the priesthood being the prime example. Blacks were denied the right to the priesthood and temple blessings for over 100 years, and great effort has been expended to point out that this was not a doctrinal position, but rather one of policy. If blacks having the priesthood was based on policy/tradition as opposed to doctrine received by revelation, then who’s to say women having the priesthood isn’t a similarly situated issue? And even if it’s not, I don’t think it’s fair to question the faith of those who have the impudence to ask such questions in good faith.

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  30. over the hill on March 26, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    The Church is NOW saying that the ban on blacks holding the PH was not doctrinal, but prior to 1978, and for many folks long after that date, the majority of members and leaders would have declared with passion that it was entirely doctrinal, and could have quoted scripture and many general authorities to back up that belief. No wonder the same sort of arguments do not hold up with regard to women/PH and gays/marriage.

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  31. MH on March 26, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Paul told us that we should “covet to prophesy” (1 Cor 14:39)

    Numbers 11:29, And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’S people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

    Why can’t the people be prophets and receive revelation? Paul and Moses weren’t opposed to the idea.

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  32. Jenn on March 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    MH- amen!
    We are given, within our stewardship, access to personal revelation. So long as we follow the revelation “chain of command” for things beyond our stewardship- this is the gospel. I have a right to revelation for me and my family. (Well, technically, since I have a husband, HE’s the steward and I’m the follower but whatever). But for the bigger church at large, if I want to affect change, the best I can do is pray and share my thoughts with my leaders and hope that they receive revelation that goes along with my own personal revelation.

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  33. brjones on March 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I may personally agree with you, Over The Hill, but either way, from an LDS perspective, there is no real room to criticize members who raise issues of policy change. The church has changed enough policy in its history to undercut anyone who wants to argue that any existing church policy is the lord’s will unchangeable.

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  34. over the hill on March 26, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Brjones –
    I am afraid I wasn’t totally clear with my last sentence. What I was trying to say is that the “church” has boxed itself into a corner by saying that policies in the past were not doctrinal (when most members during that time believed they were) so that now when the “church” says that the current stance on women or gays is doctrinal (whether they are or not) the activists have strong historical precedent to argue that there could be a change to calling these stands “policy” or cultural, or whatever, thereby leading to room for major changes.
    I think this puts us on the same page.

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  35. MH on March 26, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Over the Hill, I would argue that the church has never stated that female priests (or priestesses) is a doctrinal position, but rather simply a policy decision. (If they have stated it is doctrinal, please point me in that directions.)

    I don’t think the church can state that the position is doctrinally based because in the temple women are told that they can become queens and priestesses. Now most people interpret this to mean in the next life (and for those who have passed on, that will certainly be the case), but it seems to leave open the possibility that women can become priestesses in this life if the policy changes. Bruce R. McConkie has never stated that there is a doctrinal reason women can’t hold the priesthood, and he indicates that they will eventually gain the priesthood in the next life. He said “Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them and are not ordained to offices therein, but they are entitled to all priesthood blessings….They will hold positions of power, authority, and preferment in eternity.”

    There is absolutely no doctrinal prohibition against female priests. It is merely a policy decision, but apparently (like OD 2), a policy that requires a revelation to overturn.

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  36. Douglas on March 26, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    While it may be true that revelation isn’t just thrust down from the heavens (note the wording in O.D.#2, “He has answered OUR prayers…” (confirming what was later brought out how the PH revelation came forth in ’78, that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve desired to lift the race restriction and simply wanted the go-ahead…), it’s also true that the Church does NOT respond to opinion polls. What an utter lack of humility I see displayed (and I’m hardly a shy retiring type myself), presuming that President Monson et. al. needs to pay attention to YOUR opinions on matters such as marriage, the Priesthood, etc. (I’m under no illusion that he’s waiting with bated breath for my musings either).
    I can’t say WHY the apparent backpedaling about reasons for the PH ban on blacks until ’78 (whether ‘policy’ or ‘doctrine’, they didn’t get it just the same, so who cares for semantics?) save that in the past there was a LOT of speculation which frankly today is both insensitive and unproductive. But hey, an LDS apostle could “let” our brothers of the African persuasion drive a Cadillac (why thank yuh, Mastuh Peterson, suh, you knows we black folks just luvs to drive dem Caddy-Lacks!) if they could afford it and count himself as ‘enlightened!’. Most liberal crap over the past sixty or seventy years has been just that, but if it puts to rest such ridiculous condescension, then it had SOME good!
    Who knows? Do I believe that women will one day hold the Melchezidek Priesthood? No, and I don’t see a great ground swell amongst the membership to effect same, all the wishful thinking of ‘youse commie libs’ notwithstanding.(Just imagine if the fictional Archie Bunker had been a Mormon). But is it my say whether that happens or not? Unless somehow the Church proves hard up for talent and I get called into the Quorum of the Twelve, it’s not more my say than yours. IF that happens, it will be because it will be the Lord’s will, and He will have no trouble “selling” it to both the General Authorities and the membership at large. In the meantime, rather than presume to counsel my Lord or His servants, I’ll do my best to improve upon my rather pathetic observance of what He has already said through his servants.

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  37. [...] Heretic wrote in a comment on another blog: Paul told us that we should “covet to prophesy” (1 Cor [...]

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  38. MH on March 27, 2013 at 9:21 AM


    That was another incredibly long, rambling comment with a bunch of useless slang. But let me get to the crux of your comment that is actually worth engaging: Do I believe that women will one day hold the Melchezidek Priesthood? No

    What do you make of the promise in the temple that women will become queens and priestesses? Are they going to be Aaronic priestesses? Or is this not an allusion to priesthood at all?

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  39. Douglas on March 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    MH, it’s incredible how you can juxtapose the temple narrative into a declaration that women hold the PH, and it’s not Aaronic vs Melchizedek (the former being a subset of the latter anyway). All that over a simple issue of women being designated to perform initiatory ordinances for female patrons, which utility should be obvious. Likewise we have, outside the temple, fairly much designated the Primary, Young Women’s, and Relief Society as being female-administered even on the General level. BTW, don’t ask me why women can’t serve in Sunday School presidencies since it’s not PH-specific (supposedly in the days of yore this was the calling for the few brethren of the African persuasion that we had) but, again, it’s the practice and by inference the Lord’s will. Again, I can find nothing about women that would be an obvious disqualifier for the PH. Rather, methinks it’s to facilitate assumption of responsibility and adherence to appropriate levels of conduct on the part of men as to why it’s restricted therein. That and it’s the Lord’s will what to with his PH and He doesn’t typically feel the need to explain Himself. If He decides to extend it to women on the same basis as the men, He won’t feel a need for a prior consultation with yours truly, that’s for sure.

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  40. MH on March 27, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    it’s incredible how you can juxtapose the temple narrative into a declaration that women hold the PH

    Doug, It wasn’t me that declared that–it was Michael Quinn, a man much smarter than I. I’m simply quoting him, and if you’d like more details, I encourage you to follow the link in the OP. Quinn quotes Brigham Young, Joseph Young, and many early church leaders to support his position.

    All that over a simple issue of women being designated to perform initiatory ordinances for female patrons, which utility should be obvious.

    Please enlighten me Doug. Apparently it isn’t obvious to me what the @#$% you’re talking about when you go off on rambling tangents. Please, your analogies are tiresome and detract greatly from your point (if you even have one.) Please write clearly without rambling. I am getting to the point where I’m simply going to ignore your rambles and quit trying to take you seriously. (Obviously you don’t have any facts to support your position, or obviously you would have put them in your comment. That’s the only obvious thing I can conclude from your obvious comment.)

    So can you clearly answer my question: is “queens and priestesses” a reference to the priesthood? (It would be nice for you to start your answer with a yes or no, and then feel free to provide valid reasons without quoting Archie Bunker or any other useless reference.)

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  41. Douglas on March 27, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    MH: you approach debate much as Butch Cassidy’s opponent addressed fighting “rules” (presumably Marquis of Queensbury). To which I would respond as did Butch..slug my opponent and yell to my second, “Kid, say one, two, three, go!” to “Queens and Priestesses”….them holding the PH is a possible interpretation. A few moons ago, when doing a session at the Provo Temple, we got a Q&A session with Theodore Tuttle (the then Temple President) and this question was asked. Elder Tuttle answered that it had not been revealed but we could be certain that the nature of the PH will also change. He did leave the impression that by no means would a woman’s role be subservient, so to describe them as Queens and Priestesses was accurate. I wish that I’d been able to tape record his words as some 33 years later they’d be handy! My own take (“Gospel according to Doug”) is that both men and women in the Celestial Kingdom do exercise what to us is the PH bit to them is just part of their nature. Hence the need to prove oneself worthy in the eternal version of Spring Training; in the next step it counts!

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  42. MH on March 28, 2013 at 12:12 PM to “Queens and Priestesses”….them holding the PH is a possible interpretation.

    Thank you, that’s what I’ve been trying to say all along.

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