Thursday, May 24, 2007

Women and the Priesthood

I want to start this post by bearing my testimony concerning the Restored Priesthood. I have a strong conviction and have received a distinct witness that the authority restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. I know that it is the authority to act in Christ's name, and especially the authority needed to correctly govern His Church.

In today's Church as in the Ancient Church this Priesthood is only given to males. For reasons unknown the Lord has chosen select people and groups at different times to hold His authority. Aside from possible personal revelation to Prophets not shared through the scriptures or their writings, the reason for this has not been revealed.

As a man in the Church I cannot help but feel we can be a little more sensitive to women on this particular subject. I believe their are many of us that write off too easily those females that have struggled to understand why they cannot hold the Priesthood, or struggle that through this authority the Church becomes a male-dominated patriachal system.

I was guilty of shrugging of these conflicts until an experience on my mission. I got to know and become close with a small member family. Both parents were very liberal in their views of religion, and really anything for that matter. The husband was studying to be a sociologist, and the wife was struggling to become a homemaker putting her degree and career on hold.

While their views were liberal they were valiant and strong Saints. I loved going to their home a feeling the warm embrace of the Spirit. Many in the Church were attracted to the excitement and joy that surrounded these wonderful people.

One Sunday, after a combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting on the blessings of the Priesthood I noticed the wife walking to her car in tears. As she passed me I couldn't help but ask her what was wrong. She turned to me and very candidly said, "I want the blessings of holding the Priesthood. Why can't I as a woman experience this?"

I am sure there are many responses that can be given to this question. I know that many would say that a women does experience the Priesthood through their husband (this explanation not taking into account women that do not marry in this life). But can we really blame or look down upon a woman that wants the opportunity to hold Christ's authority to serve?

In this woman I saw and felt so much sincerity it awakened me to the reality and seriousness of this issue. Since this experience I have always tried to be very sensitive and aware when a sister in the Church is dealing with this conflict.

I am not trying to say that I believe women should hold the Priesthood. As I said before, for reasons unknown God has chosen certain people to hold His Priesthood at certain times. And me in my finite and inperfect state do not challenge His current decree. But a little more sensitivity and understanding I believe would go a long way. And I believe it would also be more Christ-like on our part.


Aaron said...

Nice post.
I agree with your resolve to be more sensitive to people on this (or any) topic. What came up for me as I read this is that we need to focus on the person, AND NOT THE ISSUE, when somebody is experiencing difficulty in their life, testimony, etc. We will seldom, if ever, be able to resolve an issue of belief when somebody questions some point of doctrine. And when we launch off into explanations, scriptures, etc. this often does more harm than good. It inadvertantly sends the message that this person must be weak or stupid for having such concerns.

I think we can listen. And that's enought most of the time. People need to reach understandings on their own.

I really like the phrase, "How can I help?" This is gentle and unobtrusive.

With regards to the topic of women and the priesthood, I have to admit to having some of the feelings that you described (shrugging off the fact that some have concerns with this). I would venture a guess on this subject. It's not so much that some women want the priesthood, it's that our society disrespects women in general--and place upon that the organization of the priesthood which sets up an environment where many priesthood holders can reinforce the concept of woman's inferiority. . .we are left with a place where women can feel invalidated. It's not the priesthood, per se, that they want. It's simply respect and validation. Maybe that's true for some, I don't know.

Steve M. said...

Good post. We need more empathetic, understanding people like you, Drew.

By the way, I just moved to North Carolina. I'm in the Durham 1st ward, for what it's worth.