There are many of us who have heard of a group of women who are wanting women to be ordained to the priesthood. These women plan on protesting their lack of priesthood authority by asking to be admitted into the priesthood session of General Conference.
In my effort to understand their desire, I did some reading and research. In order to understand a bigger picture, I think it might help work over some statistics. The Pew Research Forum has found that 87% of LDS members surveyed disagreed with the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood. From that average the breakdown looks like this: 90% of women disagreed with the ordaining of women to the priesthood while 84% of men (Walker, 2013). For me these statistics are important because prior to reading them, I thought this fight for the ordination of women included a lot more of the LDS population.
I can’t pretend to know why these particular sisters feel the need to be ordained to the priesthood. So, I turned to their website for some answers where I checked the Ordain Women FAQ sheet. Here they state that LDS women have many “delegated responsibilities” without the authority to really oversee these responsibilities. They go on to say that because of the lack of priesthood authority among women, the voices of LDS women are “left out, overlooked, and discounted.” In all frankness, this has never been my experience.
It’s true, in our varied responsibilities, LDS women serve under the umbrella of the priesthood, but when I served as a Relief Society President, I never felt as if I lacked some fundamental ability or authority to carry out those responsibilities because I didn’t hold the priesthood. It’s true that there were some items of business where I would check in with the bishop before proceeding, but the bulk of my responsibilities were taken care of independent of any authority above me. In fact, both bishops I worked with expected and preferred me to work with little oversight. They trusted me, and I trusted them.
In my calling as a RS President, I was blessed to work with two fine bishops and a council full of men and women whose goal was to serve their fellow members in our specific congregation. I met with this council every one to two weeks where we would share information and suggestions to help us each in our work to help others. I often met with the bishop alone. Those meetings were a free give and take between two equals, who carried very different gifts. One of the gifts the bishop offered was the priesthood, but that didn’t mean he didn’t need what I had to offer. Often, they asked for my input, and I thoughtfully gave it.
The church is very clear in its desire and directive that men and women are to learn to work together. We see that both in church councils and in family councils, as well.
Families, within the church, are structured in such a way as to encourage this cooperation. Men and women are encouraged to participate and cooperate, whether they’re participating in their roles as husband and wife, mother or father, brother or sister, child and parent. The same atmosphere that is present in church councils is also present in family councils where everyone has a voice and there is a free give and take among equals with all parties bringing their specific gifts and concerns to the table of the family. The priesthood is one of those gifts that is offered by the men in a family.
Does this mean everything is perfect? No. Every family and all families have problems whether they’re LDS or not. Ordaining women to the priesthood will not lessen those issues that are faced by each and every one of us who are a part of a family.
One last thing. I realize that those who are supporting Ordain Women can behave however they choose, but I do feel they’re approach carries a tone of disrespect. To protest a religious meeting that some would consider sacred will not endear them to any particular population. This tone of disrespect was also carried through their website. On their FAQ’s page, a question is posed as to why Mormons are so resistant to the idea of women being ordained to the priesthood. They answer by stating that this resistance is due to “lingering patriarchal patterns” that continue to inform church policy. They go on to say that the “priesthood has become so associated with maleness” that Mormons aren’t able to separate the priesthood from gender. They also state that for “many LDS women, asking them if they want to be ordained is like asking them if they want to be men.” Although, it may be true that the priesthood is associated with maleness, I disagree that this is what keeps Mormons from getting behind the ordain women program.
If you were to ask most LDS women noted in the statistics above, why they don’t support ordination for women, I believe you would get a variety of answers. So, here’s the answer of one LDS woman. I have faith in my leaders. This may sound simple or maybe even simple minded, but it is neither. It’s the result of study and hard work from both sides of the fence. My leaders, for the most part, behave in a way that invites my faith. I study the doctrines of the church. Putting these two things together after a great deal of hard work and study, I can honestly say I have faith in my leaders. This doesn’t mean I see them as perfect men who are incapable of making mistakes. I see them all, from Joseph Smith to President Monson, as humans, doing a difficult job. A job for which I believe they receive a lot of Divine help. This means that I also believe that if there’s a time women are to be ordained to the priesthood, they’ll be the first to know, and they will not hesitate to tell the rest of us.
If you’ve come across this post and you’re not a member of the LDS church and you’ve got some questions, please, drop me a line. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
Walker, J. (2013, September 14). LDS church responds to priesthood meeting request by activists. Retrieved from deseretnews.com.