Rationales for continued male priesthood exclusivity

A prior thread examined rationales for extending priesthood eligibility to women. This thread will examine the opposite question: If you believe that women should not receive priesthood eligibility, why not? There are again a few potential responses, which are not exclusive.

The first potential response is based on feminine gender characteristics — perhaps women are by nature less suited for priesthood office. Under this rationale, due to some feature in women’s or men’s identity, priesthood is less appropriate for women — they simply would not handle it as well as men do. Statements such as “women are more nurturing” and such probably fall within this category.

A second potential response relies on masculine gender characteristics. In particular, perhaps priesthood exclusivity is an important tool of male socialization (a few prior threads have discussed this idea). Perhaps men are more inclined to drink and carouse and break things, so they require some sort of divine “extra time with teacher.� Removing male exclusivity would remove that prop, with resulting negative consequences.

(Both of these rationales probably rely on the idea that inter-gender differences tend to be greater than intra-gender differences, but versions of them could be constructed without that feature.)

A third potential rationale relies on the primacy of motherhood. Perhaps priesthood eligibility would serve as a distraction from women’s primary roles as mothers. Under this rationale, women’s role as mothers is more important than men’s role as priesthood holders. Giving women the priesthood would result in an undesirable time-splitting; women would be dividing time between their kids and their bishopric calling. The children are more important, and so women should not be given the priesthood because it would be a temptation to spend too little time mothering.

A fourth potential rationale depends on social acceptability. Perhaps current social conditions mandate continued exclusivity. Perhaps women would be less effective priesthood leaders than men, not because of inherent gender differences but because society has trained people to undervalue women. Priesthood depends on a group of users who can command attention, and in today’s social atmosphere women cannot do this as well as men; therefore, continued male exclusivity is appropriate.

There are probably other potential rationales for continued male exclusivity that I am missing or have missed. And any of these rationales could be combined with others. So, the question for readers — to the extent that you believe the priesthood ought to remain male-exclusive, which of these rationales (if any) contribute to your understanding?

Thread Rules. Um, yeah, those worked real well last time. I’ll reiterate them here, just in case. This is intended as a narrowly-focused thread, focusing on why male-exclusivity proponents hold their views. General flame-wars, threadjacks, ax-grinding, calls-to-repentance, and so forth will be deleted. (If you’d like to explain why you hold the opposite view on male exclusivity, go here.)

[Also reiterated from last thread: I understand that this is a sensitive topic, and one where readers may feel uncomfortable commenting onymously. Feel free to comment pseudonymously or anonymously if appropriate; if commenting anonymously, please use markers as appropriate so that readers can tell anon-in-comment-14 apart from anon-in-comment 20 and such.]

[Finally, I should note that I’m aware that neither of the threads thus far has allowed for extended discussion of a set of beliefs which I think many folks around here hold, which is that we should just stop fussing about it and let God decide. For the moment, I’m focusing on proponents of active positions on either side. A future thread will focus on the question of what our role as mortals (if any) ought to be in the debate.]

80 comments for “Rationales for continued male priesthood exclusivity

  1. July 19, 2006 at 1:38 am

    I’ll try to beat DKL to the punch: I support restricting the priesthood to males because it lessens the chance that my wife will get a calling that requires her to attend PEC and leaves me to get the kids ready for church all by myself!

    I think another rationale came up in the other post (see comment 9): priesthood has been male-only since before the earth was made. Any change would not only go against mortal societal norms (as suggested by rationale 4), but would raise interesting questions about the spirit world.

  2. Mark Butler
    July 19, 2006 at 1:58 am

    Strictly speaking, that comment (#9) was an argument that God has not given the priesthood, in the sense we normally think of it, to women yet. Whether he intends to do something in this life, as opposed to in eternity are rather different issues.

    There is ample precedent to the effect that he intends to do something, eventually. I am of course in favor of whatever he (or the divine council) intends to do. I find it hard to take a position in abstract – if someone made the argument that God should grant this sort of priesthood, with this sort of function, and this sort of interaction, or otherwise suggested hypothetically how a scheme like this would work in the world we know and understand, then we could talk.

    I will say, that I do not think a blind merger of the Relief Society and the Priesthood, with full gender blindness, and women and men holding the same offices and in the same quorums, with no particular regard for marriage and other practical considerations, is at all a practical model, even in temporality.

    I can envision three schemes – Relief Society changed into a priesthood of sorts, as Joseph Smith apparently intended, the full blown family order with joint presidency over ones own posterity, and a strange hybrid where couple act as joint priesthood / office holders in capacities not relating to their posterity.

    I think scheme one is more than plausible, scheme two is the eternal order of things, and scheme three workable, but rather awkward.

  3. Mardell
    July 19, 2006 at 2:33 am

    Re comment #1:

    How do you (or anyone else) know what happened before the earth was? Is the veil miraculously lifted from your mind? If you have, why don’t you fill us in. I would love to hear about it.

  4. July 19, 2006 at 3:38 am

    Al. 13 seems to indicate it was male-only, and that it is without beginning of days or end of years. Other quotes I have read would support the idea of premortal male-only priesthood as well, although I don’t have them at my fingertips. I think someone mentioned male-only angels restoring keys, etc. might be another indicator of the pattern that has existed. It just sorta makes sense to me that if it is here, it probably was there. But that last statement is nothing but musing. I do think there are some indications, however, that it might have been as #1 stated.

  5. AlexG
    July 19, 2006 at 5:52 am

    WARNING: Facetious comment approaching. Those humourly-impaired shoud skip to the next comment. Should we reinterpret scriptures such as Titus 1:6 in which elders had to have only one wife, as to female priesthood holders to have only one wife? Or should we just add to Paul’s writtings? Maybe it is time to take from that book ( 1 Nephi 13:24-26)in order to fit a more politically correct?

    Seriously, the Community of Christ had these issues and a lot of members decided not to continue as there was no doctrinal background to support such views. The Church of England (CoE) has ordained women to the priesthood, something that even priests of the CoE think against. Scriptural accounts shows men to be ordained to the priesthood. Should we infer that the oath of the priesthood is ‘gender neuter’? Until there is a revelation from God and accepted as official doctrine, the position from the scriptures is very clear: priesthood (with its inherent responsability, rights and accountability) is to be held only by men.

  6. July 19, 2006 at 7:52 am

    If the Lord wants to change things, He’ll say so. I’ll wait on Him.

  7. July 19, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Somehow I think “Cuz the Lord said so” trumps any possible rationalization my poor, human brain could come up with.

  8. July 19, 2006 at 9:25 am

    Mark Butler, #2: Yes, I did not mean to misrepresent your point. And I can support your elaboration on that point here. I’m confused how you distinguish your first two schemes. Are they:

    1) Relief Society changed into a priesthood of sorts, as Joseph Smith apparently intended;
    2) the full blown family order with joint presidency over ones own posterity


    1) Relief Society changed into a priesthood of sorts
    2) as Joseph Smith apparently intended: the full blown family order with joint presidency over ones own posterity

    Mardell, #3: From the way I read your comment, I can’t tell if you really want an answer, a fight, or just to vent. Sorry.

  9. MLU
    July 19, 2006 at 9:35 am

    Just based on my observations of contemporary society, it appears possible that males need something to bind them to domestic life–they need work to do and a reason for making family life a priority that biology provides in a less clear and convincing way than it does for females.

    The widely discussed “boy problem” in school seems pretty directly related to the failure of schools to provide a compelling answer to the question, “what are boys for?” If women no longer need or pretend to need men–if men don’t have assignments only they can complete–they begin to turn away from civilizing activities. At least that would appear to be the case–again, just based on watching adolescent males in schools.

  10. Jack
    July 19, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Rationales for continued male priesthood exclusivity?

    –to promote mormon sectarianism.

    –to insure equality between the sexes within the church.

    –to instill within the hearts and minds of men the notion that the highest blessings are made possible only through procreation.

  11. Adam Greenwood
    July 19, 2006 at 10:30 am

    I think my real reason, like most of the commenters here, is that I support the priesthood of men because that’s the way the church does it and, as far as we have information, has always done it throughout the dispensations.

    But I’m not adverse to figuring out *why* its always been that way. I think Kaimi has done a good job of coming up with explanations in this and in the other thread, so I’m pretty sure my tentative thinking about this will fit into one of his categories. Doctrinally, I read the Proclamation on the Family to say that there is such a thing as a male nature and a female nature, so I’m generally not very suspicious of sex roles and men having the priesthood while women don’t. Practically, I see that churches with a real bi-sexual priesthood don’t seem to be thriving, especially among men, so again having the priesthood as it is doesn’t bother me. And, personally, I find that I have a kind of need in my life for men-only settings and my priesthood quorum and its activities currently fulfill that need, so I’m inclined to favor a men-only priesthood for selfish reasons.

    The one possible explanation that Kaimi hasn’t advanced is the one offered by Catholics and traditional Anglicans. They say that the function of the priest is to stand-in for Christ. Christ was a man. Therefore the priest needs to be a man. Some objections to this argument are silly–e.g., Christ had a beard (let’s say), does this mean that only bearded men can be priests? The obvious response is that having a beard, or being Semitic and what not are not essential characteristics, whereas manhood is. So this goes back to the idea of a male and female natures being different, and the differences being important, but with the distinction that the content of the differences doesn’t matter. It’s not men’s nature that fits them for the priesthood, its that Christ had men’s nature. I like this argument but I don’t think it works as well for Mormons as it might for Catholics, because Saints of both sexes act in the name of Christ, especially in prayer.

    At least eternally, Mormons would have something like a priesthood and a priestesshood with different spheres and functions.

  12. Last Lemming
    July 19, 2006 at 10:52 am

    I come closest to #2. My position does not necessarily entail the denial of any priesthood to women. The Relief Society as a parallel priesthood is entirely compatible with my ideas. So is a generally more receptive attitude toward female power in the Church. But a merged Relief Society/priesthood with no gender distinction among roles is not compatible with my position.

    Some details. Men can obtain an evolutionary advantage through promiscuity. (If you reject that notion, then you need not read any further.) Women obtain an evolutionary advantage through careful mate selection. The two strategies are not obviously compatible.

    Monogamy with compensating benefits to the male is one possible compromise. The current structure of the priesthood is an attempt to implement that compromise. Women get an exclusive commitment from a man, but the man gets a disproportionate say in how the family (and church) run.

    Polygyny is another possible compromise. Men are not bound to a single sex partner, but women get some level of commitment from the man. Men do not require the same level of authority within the family or church to buy into the system. (Note that the good old days of women exercising spiritual gifts more openly coincided with polygyny).

    Ultimately, this is a negotiating exercise. An outcome that leaves men with a single sex partner and no compensating benefit will not be tenable over the long-term. Similarly, an outcome that allows men to have multiple sex partners and the degree of authority implied by the current priesthood structure will not be tenable. Finally, men will not be successful over the long term by trying to extract too high a price from women in exchange for their monogamy.

    Of course, this doesn’t apply to most of the men reading this blog. But most men don’t read this blog.

  13. bbell
    July 19, 2006 at 11:10 am


    And pretty much what Adam said.
    Alma 13 as well
    family proclamation
    RLDS experience
    Anglican Exp
    Reformed Jew Exp

  14. July 19, 2006 at 11:14 am

    I think Adam’s second paragraph goes into what I am thinking is the best rationale for a male only priesthood. (most of this is based on Kiskilili’s thread found here)

    Gender is the only thing a person has to have in common with another person in order to do proxy work for them. I cannot stand in for a man, while I can stand in for a woman who has absolutely nothing else in common with me. Therefore it stands to reason that in cases where the person performing an ordinance is representative of someone else (like Peter, John the Baptist, etc.) then the person performing that ordinance would always have to be a man even if women held the priesthood. If you take this line of thought far enough, you can get to a point where in every ordinance performed someone is ‘standing in’ for God.

    1- If God (as an office) is exclusively male (and not a unit of male and female components, ie Heavenly Mother is God’s wife, but not a Goddess) then the Priesthood must always remain exclusively male.

    2- If God is a unit of specialized male and female components with the male part being specialized for the Priesthood then it still must remain exclusively male. The specialization would indicate that there is something of a similar nature and importance that the female component of God must have responsibility for.

    3- If God is a unit of fully intigrated male and female parts then one is ultimately as good as the other, and the basis for enforcement of the gender divide in both the Priesthood and Proxy work is nullified.

    Of these three, I believe none are fully compatible with the practice and teaching of the church. I cannot think of case that meshes with everything we are taught and practice. The one that comes closest is the second, but since I don’t buy that motherhood=priesthood then I am left wondering what specialization women have, and if it’s something that is not practiced or available on earth.

  15. Dora
    July 19, 2006 at 11:26 am

    So, this is interesting.

    When I was first contemplating polygamy and it’s post-mortality acceptance, Argument #2 was the only rationale I could use to understand it. My reasoning was thus: If women are by nature more spiritual than men, maybe there won’t be as many men in the highest order of the celestial kingdom. And if there are more women deserving of the kingdom, then polygamy would be the only way for righteous women to attain the degree of glory they deserve. Thus, the socialization of men in the church would require male priesthood exclusivity in order to maximize the ratio of men to women in the highest order of the celestial kingdom.

    I’ve since decided that I don’t really believe that people of either sex are inherently more spiritual than the other, and that such ideas are demeaning to both sides. I believe that men and women are equally capable of being righteous or not. There’s a lot more I’d like to say, but that’s for another thread

  16. Doc
    July 19, 2006 at 11:44 am

    I can think of another rationale somewhat related to the primacy of motherhood. I know it has been spoken of ad nauseum on the ‘nacle. Parallelism of Motherhood to the Priesthood. While this approach has its drawbacks I think there are some strengths that are not elaborated often enough. The highest order of the Priesthood as I understand it is the order of eternal marriage. In this order the power of God is exercised in the creation of life. This power is one of the most sacred of the powers that God exercises and I view it as one of the greatest priveleges in which we get to share on Earth. While the male is somewhat involved in this, the female is much more so. I guess my position is a melding of #2 and #3. The male needs the priesthood to draw him into the family or else the family (and the preisthood holder) loses out. The family would also lose out with the time splitting of the mother in the home. Certainly motherhood is not appreciated enough within society. I think even we in the church do not value motherhood to near the degree that God does.
    However a parallel priesthood of sorts in the Relief Society as described in comment #2 makes perfect sense to me as well. This would make the parallelism more balanced. The individual spiritual development and support of our sisters in the gospel is likely much better attended by the sisters themselves in many ways. A parallel ministry would help create a greater sense of community among the sisters. Emotional support is definitely better given by other sisters. In addition, more recognition of a responsibility in this manner would lead to greater development of the woman outside the role of mother and balanced development as a child of God. It certainly would make sense for them to have more of a voice in ward councils as has been advocated of late by certain apostles.

  17. Adam Greenwood
    July 19, 2006 at 11:46 am

    Great comment, Starfoxy, and great link.

    I’d add that if women do get priesthood authority, the obvious solution to the problem that God is a man is that the women get the authority through their husbands, as is already implied in the temple ceremony and in the scriptures that refer to marriage as ‘one flesh.’ That is, if women on their own cannot represent the male part of God (assuming that God is matrimony of the Father and the Mother), they certainly can once married and endowed, because then they are the representative of a complete person that includes a male part.

  18. lgc
    July 19, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    Allow me to share my vision. In the future, women receive the priesthood. The transition begins slowly. At first, women are called to serve in positions like ward executive secretaries, where there is an immediate improvement in efficiency. Soon, they are called to be bishops, where their extra gift of compassion begins to unite even the most fractured wards. In the meantime, we males, finding ourselves moving further to the fringes of the ecclesiastical loop, feel the allure of an entire Sunday watching NFL football more than we can overcome. Within months, the brethren have reverted to beer-swigging, knuckle-dragging, couch-lounging sabbath-breakers. Now…is that what we all really want to see happen??

  19. Mark Butler
    July 19, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    BrianJ, I meant the former, Relief Society as a priesthood of sorts, as Joseph Smith apparently intended, not the latter.

    I think some of the debate here is purely semantic – to listen to our leaders, Relief Society, motherhood, and even femininity per se have always been a divine ministry of sorts. The difference seems to be the degree of formalization, and difference in roles and responsibilities.

    I tend to think that the formalization of the ministry of the Relief Society – namely the divine ministry of women performed outside and apart from marriage and family would probably be a good thing, and furthermore that there are heavenly precedents for doing so.

    However, such a formalization would not likely amount to making men and women indistinguishible – we would still have two orders of divine ministry, and the roles and functions of each would no doubt be different enough that some people would still complain and decry the “second class priesthood” granted to women.

    I have mentioned before by the way that I see the divine role of men more in the justice and maintenance of law and order, and the divine role of women more in mercy and healing. Unfortunately the maintainers of law and order get all the press, when the administrators of mercy are just as important.

    One last thing – in any proper conciliar government I flat out cannot imagine a proper consensus being formed without the participation of both men and women. I can imagine that consensus, once formed, being enforced, in the law and order sense, mostly by men, however.

  20. Maren
    July 19, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    I have to agree with comment 18. I love my father, my husband, and most of the men in my life. But I also love that there are responsibilities that have nothing to do with me, so they have to do it. I have found that a lot of times, my husband wants me to do things because he thinks I do it better. If I had the priesthood, and someone called my house for a blessing, my husband would send me every time. He thinks I am better with people, more compassionate, etc. I am glad he is the one that has to go. I see it more as my own laziness then a man’s laziness in some ways, but I also think that if someone else will do something, people let them. If men see that women are effectively running the church, they will spend more time on the computer, watching TV, working, etc. I was RS president, and I am so glad that there are not any more involved callings for women than that. I am pregnant right now, working full time, going to school, and just dealt with a cross country move. I know that soon I will be breastfeeding, and though I can pump and have my husband feed the child, I am the only one who can pump the milk out. I am the only one who can carry the child and deal with the side effects. I am also the only one who can give birth, though I know my husband can support me. I am so glad that I will not be called in to be the bishop, or any number of callings. I am glad that I can sit and think about the sacrament instead of passing it. I receive a lot from the power of the priesthood, and am not obligated to perform any of the mundane tasks. I am glad. Leave that to my husband. Anything that tells him to treat me with respect, remain worthy because he may be called on at any time, and to show love unfeigned is good with me. I do not feel second class. As a working woman, we are expected to be as effective as men, and as a working mom, we are given guilt if we are not doing all we can to be perfect and make up for time away from our children. I do not need the added guilt of not being the perfect priesthood holder. If the world offered complete equality between men and women, meaning complete 50/50 physical bearing of children, rearing of children, cleaning of house, working outside the home, etc, maybe a complete 50/50 of the priesthood in church would work. However, we do not live in that world. Statistics show that although women work more outside the home nowadays, they still do the majority of childcare and household chores. Why in the world would I want to do more? Sorry for the soapbox, I just feel that the “equality” of women getting the priesthood would backfire into women doing most of the work while men continue to get the credit. Not that some men wouldn’t still do what they do now, I am just talking in majorities here.

  21. Mark Butler
    July 19, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    One of the first principles of the gospel is that no one gets to claim credit for anything. All Glory to God alone. We do everything in the name of Christ for that reason, among others. Anyone who claims personal credit for what they do is not following gospel. Paul was very explicit on that point. Jesus to: “Of mine ownself I can do nothing.”, “I came not to do my will, but the will of the Father”, etc.

    Paul’s teaching led to one of the basic confusions about the the efficacy of works and Christian suffering, but that is a side issue here. The point is that taking credit unto oneself is incompatible with humility. Credit to someone else, ultimately God or the divine concert, but never ever personal credit for one’s own meager efforts. That is boasting.

  22. Mark Butler
    July 19, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    It is actually part of the law of consecration – you consecrate all the credit and honor among men (and women) for your efforts to God and then he consecrates back according to your needs and his purposes. If anything the Spirit should testify of your dedication to the cause far more than anything you can say. The idea is to let God give you credit in his way, and not demand the honors of the world, according to their way. For verily, they have their reward.

  23. Mark Butler
    July 19, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    Here is a relevant scripture on the subject of credit for religious service:

    And the Lord God has spoken it; and honor, power and glory be rendered to his holy name, both now and ever. Amen.
    (D&C 20:27)


    But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
    (2 Cor 10:17-18)

  24. July 19, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    I recently heard someone tell of a newspaper article read years ago in a country where “feminization” was taking place…women were holding as many govt. jobs and spots in universities as men (don’t know what else), and a top leader in the government expressed concern that if that trend continued, men would end up sitting home watching sports and letting women do all the work. Dunno if that really would have happened, but I thought it was interesting to hear someone express that thought….

  25. Mark Butler
    July 19, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    There have been societies where such an arrangement has occured, the men doing relatively little outside of war, or maybe an occasional hunting expedition. The odd thing though is when women (or men) become prominent in a particular department, they tend to take it over wholesale. Balanced departments are relatively rare, speaking of department in the most general sense. It is almost like a phase change between two types of crystalline domains.

  26. Julie M. Smith
    July 19, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    Kaimi, you did leave one off: there is no reason, except that it is the ultimate cross to bear for your 20th or 21st century feminist—the Betty Freidan version of crossing the plains on bleeding, bare feet. I’m not sure that that is the main reason, but it may be a close second (at least for some people). I think comment #9 comes pretty close to my own view, with a side dish of the importance/function of motherhood.

  27. Jack
    July 19, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    We don’t understand anything. We don’t comprehend ourselves-our existence, let alone the existence of God. I think sometimes in our efforts to bring heaven and earth together we don’t allow enough room in our thinking for the abstract to remain abstract. IMO when we suppose that there ought to be a reason as to why the priesthood is “witheld” from women–a reason of human invention, that is–what we are doing is giving way to a humanistic dogmatism of sorts. And so we go on beating the pearly gates with all our intellectual fervor demanding an answer to something that we may not be prepared to understand.

  28. Bored in Vernal
    July 19, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    I’m for parallel priesthood/priestesshood, which some of you have explored marvelously here! But since this thread _is_ supposed to be focused on male-exclusivity proponents, I want to thank Last Lemming #12 for some fascinating ideas. They make sense to me in a way nothing else has.

  29. Matt Thurston
    July 20, 2006 at 1:01 am

    Maren (#20):

    Bravo! Count me in the Give-Women-the-Priesthood-Already!!! camp, but your simple, honest, no-nonsense riff won me over. Principles are one thing, but Reality is another; and you nailed the pragmatic reality right between the eyes!

  30. MLU
    July 20, 2006 at 3:14 am

    I’ve been observing males and females in schools the past year. It’s been startling, quite often. Lots of times I see girls acting confidently and being, well, dominant. And I’ve observed lots of boys sitting on the sidelines, sort of waiting. I really think a good many boys no longer know what males are for. Being boys, they do of course find things to do with their energies, though the statistical evidence indicates their choices have less and less to do with academics–perhaps with the civilization we’ve built.

    In a conversation with a young female convert a few days ago she expressed a sort of hostility that her husband was to know her real name, but she wasn’t to know his–she hasn’t been to the temple but she’s heard things, and they mildly offended her sensibilities.

    I know her husband, and it struck me how much he needs assignments–needs reasons to be there with his sacred knowledge and his sense of strength. She cares for three pre-school children, and she is immersed in obligation and service, but it struck me how little his assignment had to do with superiority. It was about being bound and obligated to her and the children.

    In my professional work, I’m very worried about boys. The root cause of most of the trouble I see boys getting into is fear–manifested quite often as bravado–but fear, nonetheless. Really, in the post-feminist era, what are boys for? Head of household? Breadwinner? They seem very vulnerable, quite in need of feeling important and feeling needed–especially by girls. As girls have taken delight in their independence and equality, it seems many boys have simply gotten lost.

    I’ve always thought the church offered a quite profound message to boys–they have a sacred power given at age twelve that is greater than the power of kings, and they hold the keys to everything important in life. Who they are and what they do matters. As they get older, the messages seem to have more and more to do with loving service, with gentleness, and with softening.

    Maybe it’s because I’m a man, but the women I know who seem to me most wise seem quite willing to let men have their manly things–they’re more likely to see some of the strutting and posturing as a way of getting to courage than as a competition. They seem willing to be friends and helpers, which seems the right relation between the sexes.

    The current boy crisis in education has many precedents, such as the T Roosevelt concerns about modern boys being sissified by industrial civilization. It seems there’s always a boy crisis. This is probably because the male role in civilization is always a bit more contrived then the female–more abstract than birthing and nursing. The male role keeps needing to be re-invented as the culture changes–the wild west goes tame and flashy chaps and six-shooters no longer work. It seems to me the priesthood provides a cultural definition of male roles that’s closer to the truth and therefore more durable than the peacockish attire of French aristocrats or the gaudy costumes of the knights of the prairie.

    I certainly wouldn’t mind women having the priesthood, but then men would need to find something else to help them build their manly identity around. . .

  31. Wes
    July 20, 2006 at 9:53 am

    I spent an entire day trying to figure out how to say what I was feeling on this subject and then MLU said what I was going to say :)

  32. bbell
    July 20, 2006 at 11:10 am


    You nailed it. Priesthood give men and boys purpose and meaning that serves as a powerful anchor in their lives. In a post modern society where so many males are really struggling its something that gives them a sense of duty & service.

  33. Mark Butler
    July 20, 2006 at 11:42 am

    It is not an argument for priesthood exclusivity, but I think we should not lose sight of the Lord’s greater purposes for the priesthood, indicated in the following verses:

    Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
    (Isa 52:9-10)

    For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

    Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

    For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,

    And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured: But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
    (Isa 62:1-9)

    Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
    My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

    Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
    Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
    (Isa 51:4-10)

    Now, who is the arm of the Lord? In most general terms it is the priesthood, the Lord’s instrument to bring to law, judgment, and salvation to Israel. Why law? Why judgment?

    Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
    (Psalm 37:27-28)

    Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.
    (Psalm 76:8-9)

    The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof…righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

    Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD.
    (Psalm 97:1-8)

    And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
    (D&C 88:21)

    But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
    And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

    Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
    (Mal 3:2-4)

  34. July 20, 2006 at 11:44 am

    bbel, MLU et al, What are your reason as to why the exclusion of women from the priesthood is necessary for maintaing the feelings of purpose and meaning in men’s lives? What is it about women that makes their inclusion dangerous to men’s feelings of purpose? Is there another group (like non-members) that we could exclude to achieve the same results? (note, I am not saying that the situations and feelings you describe are not how things would happen, I am asking _why_ you think those things would happen and if they are avoidable through a route other than women’s continued exclusion.)

    I tend to think that the danger isn’t in including or not including women, it is in the definition of masculinity. In our culture ‘masculine’ is largely defined as “whatever feminine is not.” And ‘feminine’ happens to be “whatever women like or do.” So if women are included in the priesthood, it instantly becomes ‘feminine’ and men are no longer interested in it. If the definition of masculine changes then women no longer pose a threat to men’s feelings of inclusion and importance.

    I think that your reason for maintaining a male-only priesthood is insufficient because it’s roots are not in doctrine, but rather in poorly outlined worldly ideas of what makes men “men.” Feelings of importance and responsibility are not a zero-sum game.

  35. Mark Butler
    July 20, 2006 at 11:54 am

    I don’t think it has anything to do with exclusion per se, it has to do with the recognition that God designed men for a purpose, that there are (horror of horrors) certain tasks that they are more suited for, than women are. Justice and judgment, protection and defense are among those tasks.

    It is all PC to talk about the wonderful gifts of women and to treat men like the scum of the earth, but in actuality there is a proper (though somewhat statistical) division of gifts and inclinations between men and women. As I mentioned earlier how many nuns were motivated to write theological texts in the middle ages, when monks were turning them out by the hundreds? There is no absolute bar of course, but there seems to be at a minimum a difference in inclination in a variety of areas, law, justice, and judgment, police, the military, even systematic theology, being typical examples.

  36. bbell
    July 20, 2006 at 12:11 pm


    read this WSJ piece.


    My reasons are scriptural, doctrinal, prophetic etc.

    I think the evidence from the denominations around us in the US (including the RLDS) show that ordination of women has weakened denominations that try it. Therefore backing up the Scriptural, doctrinal and prophetic reasons for doing so.

  37. Adam Greenwood
    July 20, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    As I’m reading it, the claim is that women have a unique and important contribution to society to make: birth. Men, not so much. Now you may claim that we are all just individuals and we don’t need to find a purpose for our gender, but that’s a hard claim to make, psychologically and historically.

  38. July 20, 2006 at 12:21 pm

    Mark Butler,
    bbell et al’s comments didn’t indicate that men have a natural propensity for administrating the priesthood (which seems to be your reason, please correct me if I am wrong.) I have no objection to the idea that men are better suited to administer the Priesthood, provided that women are better suited to administer something else (it follows quite nicely with my second case listed in comment 14). I want to ask, though, why must it be enforced by an external source (the church) if the inclinations are so engraned in our natures? That is, if women were allowed to become Priesthood holders, and men would still do the majority of the Priesthood work (because they are more suited for it), why is there still an aversion to ordaining women?

    bbell & MLU’s comments almost indicated a belief in the exact opposite, which is that women would do things so well that men would become superflous. I’m wondering if that is really what they meant to say, and why they think that is how it would be.

  39. Adam Greenwood
    July 20, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    I see your reading, Starfoxy.

    My reading is that in any human society, women have an obvious role that is important to the society as a whole–birth and, to some degree, childrearing. Men don’t. The Priesthood gives them a unique and important function specific to their sex.

    But I think your reading is also something they’re saying. That is, civilization is more feminine than otherwise, and therefore men need to find a way of having their manhood valued in civilized contexts. This may partially be a claim that women would do things better than men, or it may just be a claim that on average men will find them less attractive.

    I am biased by being a reader of science fiction, but I find a functioning all-female society much easier to believe in than a functioning all-male society, both biologically and socially.

  40. July 20, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    bbell, I read the piece, and I think that everything they discussed confirms everything I just said. The main point of the piece was that when women take over at church it becomes a feminine venue and men lose interest.

    Okay, MLU said
    “I’ve always thought the church offered a quite profound message to boys–they have a sacred power given at age twelve that is greater than the power of kings, and they hold the keys to everything important in life. Who they are and what they do matters.”

    I want to know why this power must be held only by boys in order to make the boys feel important. I don’t doubt that that having touchy-feely church services is unappealing to men. I also don’t doubt that men and women are, in fact, different and have differing abilities and interests. I want to know why men can’t share the priesthood and still feel masculine? Why must men ‘hold the keys to everything important in life’ by themselves?

    Adam’s reason that while women have childbirth to make them naturally important, men need a reason to be naturally important too. Is the priesthood that reason? Could anything else be that reason?

  41. Doc
    July 20, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    Sure, anything that helps men to realize they have a unique, powerful and necessary contribution to life, family and community would work. Do you ask because you have an alternative in mind?

  42. bbell
    July 20, 2006 at 1:16 pm


    There are so many reason but another is socializing males. Esp younger ones.

    Being ordained and going up thru the ranks to MP ordination, missions, and eventual temple marriage has a powerful socializing impact on YM.

    To lose its unique male exclusivety would damage its importance in the eyes of YM and lead to less socialization and church activity amongst males.

  43. Adam Greenwood
    July 20, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    “I want to know why this power must be held only by boys in order to make the boys feel important.”

    Ma’am, this goes back to my comment #37 that you ignored. In order to feel important *as boys*, boys need to have something exclusive to their sex. Girls too. You may say that boys and girls should treat their sex as irrelevant to their identity and their self-worth, but this is a wildly ahistorical and abiological claim.

  44. Sonnet
    July 20, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    I haven’t read all of the posts, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating. I\’m very bothered by the idea that there is some kind of crisis in boys’ education, and by the related argument that if men didn’t have the Priesthood, they would become lost and unproductive. Look at secular institutions: Do men need any sort of extra incentive to dominate the political arena? Or the professional sphere? Sorry, but the argument that the priesthood acts as a necessary motivation for innately lazy and unproductive beings doesn’t seem quite right to me.

  45. Brandt
    July 20, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    I would argue that the male exclusivity of the Priesthood is less about lifting men \”up.\” I feel, and it\’s probably not a popular view, that holding the priesthood is related to arguement #2. Our gender identities were not decided by a random race of zygotes. Our gender identities of male and female are eternal, and those gender identities include but also extend beyond physical characteristics. It would seem while men may not be more capable, it is the role of men to lead in the home (the most important Priesthood unit), and in the church. I\’m not against women in leadership positions in the workplace or in government. I would welcome a female President of the U.S.A. She\’d make different mistakes probably then most male presidents. It might be refreshing to have other problems instead of the ones we\’ve had for a while. But the reality (as I see it) is that men have different roles than women. One of those is that of Priesthood holder.

    While the Preisthood may serve to help us neanderthal men aspire to something more, I don\’t think that\’s why things are the way the are at all.

  46. Maren
    July 20, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    I would say that my reasoning for male only priesthood is completely worldly. I see nothing wrong with having a worldly take on religious things. The Word of Wisdom is a law designed for our temporal, worldly bodies. We all live in an imperfect society, and as part of that imperfect society, we all have things we see as unjust or unfair. Some women see the fact that they hold the priesthood unfair. I see it as God trying to balance out the duties of life, trying to make life more fair. Why is it that more women become clergy, nurses, social workers, teachers, etc? I chose my profession because I wanted to help people. I felt strongly about making sure that peoples needs were met. Subsequently, I love my job and make very little money. Most of the men I know chose jobs where they could make a good living. Not all, of course. And if women had the priesthood, not all men would stop coming to church. Men still go to other churches, become clergy, and many of the other professions I listed. But majority dictates women doing more of the “do good” work. Perhaps God sees this, and wants men to feel obligated to “do good”. Perhaps the Priesthood provides that. Perhaps he knows that we women are busy enough as it is, we do not need another burden. Some women may flourish if given the Priesthood. Others would be so overworked that they would have nervous breakdowns. I believe wards would have great benefits from a female bishop, but if more females were bishop, the use of Prozac would rise even higher in Utah. Many people can have a small glass of wine at dinner, and never be addicted. However, God put a blanket ban on alcohol in the latter days, for everyone, in behalf of the “weakest of saints”. Maybe, just maybe, the priesthood is the same. Here on earth we as mortals cannot truly understand our divine roles, and the differences. We cannot see the equality in the plan, and may even be offended the lack of equality. But God understands our natures, imperfect as they are. Maybe he knows that everyone needs something that is exclusive to them. The best way to define the role of the male on earth may be through the Priesthood. I do not want to see the male side of the church eliminated, just because women could “do it better”. I do think that is what is happening in the world, and I do not want it in the church. Incidentally, I am a strong feminist in my opinion, studying Women’s Studies in college. I believe women have the power and capability to do anything they want to do. I do not think the lack of Priesthood is God saying women are less important than men. I have had many arguments with friends about this subject. I believe that him having men hold the priesthood teaches me that the things I do are just as important as men, only different. I believe it is God teaching me “You do not have to do everything. You could do everything. You have every capability of doing everything. However, because I love you, I will not make you do everything. I will allow the priesthood to be handled by someone else. You have enough on your plate.” I do not think this is only correlated with motherhood. Women tend to do more than men. Studies of office work show that. Studies of housework show it. I don’t claim to know why. Maybe society has molded us this way. However, God understands society, so he has give us this rest. I never have to be bishop. I thank God every day for that.

  47. Maren
    July 20, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    P.S. For Harry Potter fans, Dumbledore teaches Harry what I am trying to say in Book Five. He does not make Harry a prefect. Many people, including Harry, question why. People say it might have shown trust in Harry. Finally, near the end of the book, Dumbledore tells Harry of all the things Harry must face and deal with. He then mentions the reason why he did not make Harry prefect. It is not that Harry couldn’t do it. It is that Dumbledore felt that Harry already had enough to deal with.

  48. Rosalynde Welch
    July 20, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    Uh-oh, I’m getting worked up. I didn’t think I had it in me any more, but I guess I do.

    Perhaps the facts that men have had and still retain full control of the bones of all societies—law and property—throughout recorded human history, and that men are directly responsible for virtually every significant advance in human civilization during the same period, can reassure those who are concerned that men are going to fall abruptly off the edge of the civilized world.

    It is true, sadly, that what is good for men and children is almost always bad for women.

  49. Adam Greenwood
    July 20, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    “It is true, sadly, that what is good for men and children is almost always bad for women.”

    Sometimes I’m afraid this might be true. It would be in keeping with this worthless world of ours.

  50. Jack
    July 20, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    “It is true, sadly, that what is good for men and children is almost always bad for women.”

    A bit cynical, aren’t we?

    BTW, it is also true that men are, by and large, responsible for the greatest ills suffered by all living creatures.

  51. Mark Butler
    July 20, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    God is not a cynic. (Maybe on really rough days, but certainly not as a rule). He is not a respecter of persons. It is contrary to the very contigencies of divinity to bless one by condemning the other without rhyme or reason. He would lose common consent overnight.

  52. Mark Butler
    July 20, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Maren (#46), Do more, yes. But do they do it more efficiently?

  53. Adam Greenwood
    July 20, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    Mark B.,
    we’re not talking the eternities, we’re talking here and now, the fallen world.

  54. Maren
    July 20, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    I cannot say whether or not women do things more efficiently than men. I do believe that depends on the person. If you asked me to remember when the doctor’s appointment is, where to go, what we need at the grocery store, and pay the bills, I would efficiently do all those things in one day. My husband would forget something. However, if you told me to go out and find the best deal on a car, computer, tv, etc, I would fail miserably when compared to my husband. Not essentially male or female. Just tasks. However, notice, if give several tasks I am good at, I succeed. My husband succeeds better one task at a time. My point of women in general doing more. So maybe they are more efficient with a larger amount of tasks, but I guess my point is that everyone has their breaking point, which I feel God knows.

  55. Mark Butler
    July 20, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Adam G. (#53), I have no idea which comment of mine you are referring to or why.

    Maren (#54), I would say that relative efficiency between the sexes is a statistical quantity distributed according to background and inclination, and the differential inclination of men and women, partially physiological, partially culturally endowed, leads to statistically different efficiencies according to the task, depending quite strongly on typical “male” and “female” ways of doing many of them. i.e. that there are some things that men are typically more effective and efficient at than women are, and some things that women are typically more effective and efficient at than men are.

    I don’t like the free reign to say that women are so wonderful and men are foolish simpletons, without the freedom to say the opposite in contexts where it is justly deserved. Now I think those contexts are few – the problem is that everyone is saying that women are naturally wonderful and talented and capable of anything, and that men are naturally depraved and foolish and incapable. That is not a tenable assertion – the difference is real, but the strengths and weaknesses tend to balance out. Otherwise one would have to conclude that God was incompetent in his design of the differences in male and female physiology. Either that or all men are destined to become women someday.

  56. Adam Greenwood
    July 20, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    #51, which I assume is responding to Nos. 48 and 49.

  57. Dora
    July 20, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    I am intrigued by Satrfoxy’s #34 comment. How would men describe masculinity outside of the context of the priesthood? How would women?

  58. Mark Butler
    July 20, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Adam G. (#56), I don’t see the relevance other than perhaps I would agree that the time frame for loss of common consent of the hosts of heaven is no doubt several orders of magnitude faster than the time frame for losing the common consent of the Saints on earth. I am more than willing to let the members of the divine council discuss this and practically any other substantive matter on my behalf. The warrant of heaven is a practical definition of the spirit of righteousness.

  59. Adam Greenwood
    July 21, 2006 at 11:07 am

    Mark B.,
    you seem to suggest that in the justice of God or because of the law of common consent or something it can’t be the case that ‘what’s good for men and children is bad for women.’ I would agree, from an eternal perspective. But RW and I are talking about this world. Injustices come by the bushel basket.

  60. MLU
    July 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm


    It isn’t excluding women that’s important, per se. What’s important is that men need to be needed by women.

    That’s quite a different thing. I was not saying that women need to be excluded. I was saying that men need women, and much of what they need is to be needed. If women slay all their own dragons, I would expect some men to turn away from the ideal of marriage, some to turn toward hypermasculine forms of expression, inventing dragons women can’t slay, etc.

    It’s marriage that is interesting to me, rather than the relative abilities or capacities of men or women alone. In lots of ways, men can get by without women, and women without men. Both sexes are intelligent and adaptable and can acquire whatever skills are needed, either by work or by divine gift or, usually, both.

    It seems wise to grant the priesthood to men, but the wisdom doesn’t center in any lack of ability on the part of women. As far as I can see.

    I do see sexual differences though (this is a statistical, not an absolute argument)–men’s penchant for slaying dragons and women’s desire to be loved–that make the task assignments quite sensible.

  61. Mark Butler
    July 22, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    Adam (#59), That is not what I am suggesting at all – I am suggesting that if the divinely ordained division of labor between men and women in the plan of salvation was a manifest injustice, then, at a minimum, women would never have agreed to such a division in the council in heaven, and the plan of salvation would not have acquired the sustaining vote of those who are now here upon there earth.

    The evidence is that it did. The ones who rebelled did it, according to Joseph Smith, over the prospect that there would be some small minority who would not be able to be saved at the last day, because they were everlastingly set in their own ways, and unable to humble themselves to submit to the law of the gospel.

    For example:

    And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

    For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
    (1 Sam 15:22-23)

  62. Jason
    July 22, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    The practical, and perhaps more important aspect of this discussion can be seen by a slightly different perspective. The influences of the world have crept into our perspective on eternal truths and at least to a minor degree, corrupted them. The question the world would ask then, is, “Why don’t you give the Priesthood to women?� It is exclusionary and its objective is to create or foster division, and built on the assumption that priesthood=authority.

    Many of you have participated in the discussion or lessons where the instructor asks, “What is the Priesthood?� and someone answers, “The authority to act in God’s name�, and then you can move on the the next question without giving any more thought to what the Priesthood really is, and why we have it. Perhaps more thorough discussion of what the Priesthood is would lead to less division on whether or not it should be given to women.

    Ordination in the Priesthood, in addition to all the standard Sunday School answers, is what enables men to live in the Celestial Kingdom. The greatest difference between men and women in my opinion isn’t gender, but the fact that women are born onto this world with everything they need to live in the Celestial kingdom. Men are not. In short: women come to this planet complete; men don’t. Perhaps this is an “inside jokeâ€? about women being taken from the rib of Adam…or perhaps there is deeper symbolism there than meets the eye.

    How does that relate to the current discussion? Women don’t need the Priesthood–that’s the bottom line. Giving women the Priesthood would be like baptizing them twice. Every man from the dawn of time has needed the priesthood to live in the Celestial Kingdom. The pool of men who were selected for the Priesthood (eligibility) has, however, varied in size and composition throughout the ages.

    What this means is that the prior references to “extending eligibility for the Priesthood to womenâ€? are flawed. There is no such thing, really. There are only two divisions that matter eternally, “in need of the Priesthoodâ€? and “Not in need of the Priesthoodâ€?. Men fall into the first category; women the second. Those in the first category can then be subdivided along the lines of eligibility and worthiness, but how–let alone why–would you make someone eligible for what they don’t need?

  63. Eve
    July 22, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Jason, if women truly were completely outfitted for the celestial kingdom at birth, why would we be in this life at all? Wouldn’t we already be there?

  64. Jason
    July 23, 2006 at 12:07 am

    Eve, there are two ways to answer that question.

    The first answer is to get a body…but beyond that there is a difference between being outfitted with all you need for celestial glory and earning celestial glory.

    Second answer is that you have to be here so some guy can marry you, thereby completing what he needs to get there.

  65. Juli
    July 23, 2006 at 12:45 am

    I believe that men have the priesthood for a couple of reasons. First, they seem to inately need something higher to aspire to. If there weren’t responsibilities spurring them on and motivating them to be more Christlike, a lot would not be nearly so diligent in the way they live. I think that the most important reason is that it makes the priesthood a partnership between husbands and wives. If women had the priesthood we would just do it, without prompting or pushing. While we were out performing priesthood duties, our husbands would be home watching t.v. As it is, men have the priesthood, and the faithful women at their side are encouraging, prompting, and yes, sometimes even nagging them to fulfill their responsibilities. It becomes a two person event and can strengthen a relationship, just as working together on any other common goal can. Women are naturally closer to perfection than men which is why men need more practice working out the kinks. Probably the same reason men can be sealed to multiple women, there will be more women who make it to the celestial kingdom then men.

  66. Idahospud
    July 23, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Jason, what you suggest in your second answer (#64) is too androcentric, and, in combination with your first answer, mystifying. Unless I read you wrong, you suggest that women don’t necessarily need men for celestial glory, but men need women (as well as needing the priesthood). To me, this opinion puts a woman’s purpose as being *for* men, like an accessory, and negates the doctrine that neither sex is complete without the other. Can you clarify?

  67. Jason
    July 23, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    Well the second answer was a little flippant…as well as someone poorly phrased.

    But ultimately yes, what I was saying is that women don’t (no qualifiers needed) need marriage on this earth to eternally progress. That is fairly well established.

    And yes, men do need women as well as the priesthood. Again, that is nothing new. A worthy man who has neglected his duty to seek marriage can not gain eternal progression.

    Note that while I said that women can gain the celestial kingdom absent marriage, this does nothing to negate the doctrine that neither sex is complete without the other, for neither, for obvious reasons, can eternally progress absent marriage. The difference is that men, generally speaking, have to do it during this life.

    I don’t think this accessorizes women, since the relationship is bilateral. I was asked why women had to come to this world, and the truth is they don’t come to this world because they HAVE to get married, so I didn’t say, “To get a body and get married.”

    Men, however, must get married here, therefore, I would say that my answer although imperfectly constructed, is accurate (although by no means complete.) Let me add that there is a lot more “squish” on this topic than a lot of gospel topics, rendering two or three paragraph discussions susceptible to over generalizations.

    I don’t think my answer is perfect–I don’t really even like it anymore–I probably should have just quit when I was ahead and said, “Women come to get a body,” and been done with it…I fear I’ve created a detour that distracts from my main point: the debate over women and the Priesthood is overwrought because women don’t need the Priesthood.

  68. Mark Butler
    July 23, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    I would read Jason’s position the opposite way, as gynocentric, i.e. women are saved by suffering and sacrificing for those poor benighted men, the same way Christ does for his Church. I think both that perspective, and its more common opposite (androcentric suffering on behalf of women and children), in combination, have scriptural support. The gospel is all about beneficial suffering and sacrifice for the good of others, and surely neither men nor women have a monopoly on virtuous suffering, they just often go about it in different ways.

  69. Mark Butler
    July 23, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Jason, I think your assertion about women vs. men and vis a via the requirement of marriage is completely unwarranted.

    The only similar thing I have ever heard is the idea that men have much more of an opportunity to get married. That is a severe exaggeration. Many of the men who “can’t” get married have similar problems and idiosyncrasies as many of the women who “can’t” get married.

    Also the common idea that one should just marry anyone, no matter how bizarre, just because they are a moderately worthy member of the church, is also unwarranted I believe. It is not God’s design to promote undue human suffering. He wants healthy marriages, not marriages that are practically doomed to misery from the very beginning.

    And whether a pre-marriage relationship fails because of pride and undue demands or much more justified reasons, according to the inspiration of the Lord, is not generally for outsiders to say. I find it amusing that virtually no one I have talked to in the Church believes that it is possible for the Lord to inspire two persons *not* to get married, or not to pursue a relationship, that on the contrary he is completely indifferent to the matter. Isn’t it much more likely that one’s heavenly father cares at least as much as one’s mortal father about the prospects for reasonable success and happiness? So that it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle every step of the way, if at all possible?

  70. Jason
    July 23, 2006 at 11:14 pm


    You spent one paragraph saying my assertions were unwarranted, but after that you addressed things far beyond what I had even hinted at in my posts–the comparative opportunities of males and females to marry, how picky people need to be in agreeing to marriage, etc.–most of which I don’t disagree with, btw.

    Let me distill this down as much as I can, keeping in my that I did go out of my way to speak in generalities.

    I said that “women don’t…need marriage on this earth to eternally progress.” Is that unwarranted? In what way?

    I then followed up with this: “men, generally speaking, have to do it during this life.” Again, I don’t think that is unwarranted.

    I’m not convinced I have hit the nail square on the head here–but I did at least nick it. Moreover, for it to be “completely” unwarranted it would have to be riddled with errors–which I don’t see.

  71. Mark Butler
    July 23, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    Jason, a “warrant” in this context, is a sufficient reason to uphold a position.

    You have just made two enormously controversial assertions. I was just speculating at your rationale for holding them.

    So now, we can take those beliefs as personal idiosyncrasies, or you can give us some reasons – logical arguments, rationales, quotes, analogies, whatever, for why we should believe such unsubstantiated, and I may say, unheard of doctrinal claims.

  72. Jason
    July 24, 2006 at 8:52 am

    Enormously controversial? Unheard of? These are not new thoughts, and should hardly be controversial.

    “I am aware of some young men and women who seemingly have not been successful in total fulfillment. Some have been on missions; some have completed their education. And yet they have passed the period of their greatest opportunity for marriage. The time has passed, and while still attractive and desirable and efficient, they find themselves alone.

    To you we say this: You are making a great contribution to the world as you serve your families and the Church and the world. You must remember that the Lord loves you and the Church loves you. To you women, we can only say we have no control over the heartbeats or the affections of men, but pray that you may find fulfillment. And in the meantime, we promise you that insofar as eternity is concerned, no soul will be deprived of rich and high and eternal blessings for anything which that person could not help, that the Lord never fails in his promises, and that every righteous person will receive eventually all to which the person is entitled and which he or she has not forfeited through any fault of his or her own. ” Spencer W. Kimball, “The Importance of Celestial Marriage,â€? Ensign, Oct. 1979, 3.

    “My heart reaches out to those among us, especially our single sisters, who long for marriage and cannot seem to find it. Our Father in Heaven reserves for them every promised blessing.” Gordon B. Hinckley, “What God Hath Joined Together,â€? Ensign, May 1991.

    “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants [they may be worthy and righteous, but they are ministering servants], to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.” D&C 132:6, 16–17.

    “No man who is marriageable is fully living his religion who remains unmarried� Joseph Smith, (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 275).

    “I shall feel sorry for this young man when the day comes that he faces the Great Judge at the throne and when the Lord asks this boy: ‘Where is your wife?’ All of his excuses which he gave to his fellows on earth will seem very light and senseless when he answers the Judge. ‘I was very busy,’ or ‘I felt I should get my education first,’ or ‘I did not find the right girl’—such answers will be hollow and of little avail. He knew he was commanded to find a wife and marry her and make her happy.” Spencer W. Kimball, (Ensign, Feb. 1975, p. 2).

    “The prophets of God have repeatedly assured faithful, unmarried women that they can be exalted.” James E. Faust, “What It Means to Be a Daughter of God,â€? Ensign, Nov. 1999, 100

    My asssertions are this: Marriage in this life is not an absolute requirement for women to eternally progress. Marriage in this life, generally speaking, is a requirement for men to eternally progress. If you think this is wrong or enormously controversial, what have the general authorities been talking about, as given my the above examples? Do you know of some doctrine that would indicate that women who don’t marry in this life are barred from progression in the afterlife? Or that men, generally speaking, don’t have to get married in this life?

  73. Carolyn
    July 24, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    Women do not hold the priesthood because humanity is simply not yet ready for it. Especially if you consider the worldwide expansion of the church, which is where we are heading in the future. Think of places like India and China which have a level of sexism we can’t even touch in the western world. Think of places like Latin America where the current church standards for treating women are already a stretch for a lot of new members and run counter to the prevailing culture.

    Given the present condition of the world, for the church to grant full equality to women in terms of the priesthood would seriously hamper missionary work. It’s a question of the greater good.

    I believe that things will be very different on the other side and that we will be absolutely equal. As an example of this I look to the temple which requires a higher standard of behaviour and where women still exercise authority in performing the most sacred ordinances. We generally expect those who attend the temple to be a little more evolved and a little closer to a celestial mindset.

  74. Dora
    July 29, 2006 at 11:22 am

    Had a funny little thought on the drive home yesterday. Listening to NPR, and the accusation that the conservative right are using issues such as gay marriage, flag burning, etc to steer attention away from the “conflict” in the middle east and gas prices, I found myself thinking about affirmative action, and who likes/dislikes it. However, using Kaimi’s initial hypotheses, isn’t #2 just affirmative action for men? It made me chuckle … how ironic!

  75. Alma
    August 18, 2006 at 1:00 am

    Just to throw out an idea:

    Everyone seems to admit that there is a problem with the numbers of single women in the church today. And any well-studied person knows that plural marriage is an eternal law of heaven, and that it will be lived there. It may upset the females, but go read the revelations and the teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, etc, etc. How else will all of these sinlge women get those blessing in the next life?

    The man and woman are not alone in the Lord and the simple reason NOT to give women the priesthood is that they already hold it, or will hold it, in connection with their husband. People that have been through the temple should understand this. It is only the combined unit of male and female that create the state of “God”. Men and Women have different roles. It’s just that simple and if people would accept that then the world would be a better place. We\’ve got to stop looking always at the way things are in a wicked world, trying to fit the gospel around the conditions of today and begin to look at them as they should be, in a society of and condition of Zion.

  76. JKC
    August 18, 2006 at 11:36 am


    I wonder where you get the idea that “any well-studied person knows that plural marriage…will be lived in the next life.” I am aware of the statements that JS, BY, JT, HCK, etc. have made, and that you reference, but any well-studied person also knows that there are many other doctrines that many of them taught (blood atonement, blacks and the priesthood, Adam-God, etc.) that have been repudiated, by revelation or otherwise. Also, to clarify, when you say that plural marriage will be practiced in the next life, do you mean just polygeny or do you mean polyandry as well? Also, do you mean that only those who entered into plural marriages in this life will be plurally married in the next or that all who are exalted will be required to do so? I’m just curious as to what you really mean.

  77. Alma
    August 18, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I think that most of the issues you mention are pretty understandable, and I also think that the church avoids them so as not to disturb or confuse members, but I should like to actually talk to a GA in serious conversation on some items.

    As far as the other doctrines you mention, “repudiated by revelation or otherwise”, I would comment that it would take a revelation to actually repudiate another revelation and that leaves me wondering what the “otherwise” is except it be the conclusions of men, which I do not consider valid. Furthermore I will say that as the prophet of the restoration and the keyholder for this dispensation, a person ought to be very careful turning aside any of the teachings of Joseph Smith.

    Certain doctrines, such as blood atonement are curently beyond the scope of my study and my understanding, so I choose to set them aside for a time. The practice of it was never really defined or enacted to the same level as plural marriage and there is very little teaching on the issue.

    And as for Plural Marriage, Section 132 will establish my case for couples that are sealed in plural marriage while in this life still being couples in the next. Hence my comment that it will be lived there. Now as for your question about people who don’t live it in this life, if they will live it in the next? I cannot readily produce documented evidence of this and I will say that it is my feelings that it will happen. I believe that to proceed as a God, a person will one day have to fully espouse and live that principle. How else would all of these single women recieve the blessings of Godhood? There is more righteous women then men it seems in any given age. I would like to support all my views by scripture but offhand I can only think that this idea was supported by the early brethren. I will propose it only as my opinion.

    But, I have no scriptures to produce on the matter at the moment.

    And I am talking specifically about polygamy only. Once again, 132 specifically talks about “men” and “women”. It provides no justification for women havign multiple husbands.

  78. JKC
    August 18, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the clarifications. To clarify what I meant in saying “by revelation or otherwise,” I meant that certain practices (plural marriage and the priesthood ban) and by implication certain doctrines (doctrinal justifications for the priesthood ban) have been repudiated specifically by revelation. Other doctrines and practices (blood atonement) have been repudiated by church leaders without appealing to a specific revelation from the lord to declare them void. As a side note, I should say that I don’t think the principle of revelation does not guide the bretheren in making such statements, and that you could reasonably say that even those doctrines that have been repudiated without a declaratory “thus saith the Lord” have still, in a sense, been repealed by revelation. Others, (Adam-God) have never been specifically repudiated, but have not been taught for some time and have implicitly been cast aside by the church. Of course, this is the weakest case for repudiation of those I have outlined here.

    But to answer your question “how else could all those women receive the blessings of Godhood?” my opinion is that the mere fact that there are more exalted women than exalted men does not necesitate every exalted man taking plural wives. Couldn’t the surplus of women (if I can be excused for such a crude phrase) be married to just a few of the men? Why would every man have to take extra wives? Certainly there are more active women than men in the church, but I would be very surprised if there were double the number of women, which is what we would need to make it neccesary for everyone to have a polygenous marriage. Not to disrespect your opinion, but the “surplus females” idea is just not a good enough reason for me to believe that everyone will have to do this.

    Do you know of some other reason why a polygenous marriage would be required for Godhood? I would be curious to hear it.

  79. Alma
    August 19, 2006 at 3:22 am

    First let me say that it is my opinion that just because a man in leadership says “thus saith the Lord” does not mean anything.” They might be lying or be a deceiver for that matter. Orson Pratt made a comment once along these lines.

    Plural Marriage cannot be repudiated as a principle unless the Lord retracts 132. It can only be repudiated as a practice.

    As far as the priesthood ban goes, there may have been doctrinal interpretations that were condemned by the fact that the Blacks were later allowed to have the priesthood. But I would ask who the interpretations were from and how did they come up to them? Were they just an opinion or perhaps an emotion? Or were they actually based on some revelation or scripture of some sort? I have found very little actually said by Joseph Smith on the subject. Sure they didn’t bestow it, but was it ever really detailed by Joseph why not? There is statements made by Brigham Young but they are also subject to interpretation in my opinion. You could take them other ways. Even Bruce R. McConkie had a unique way of explaining away his own statement on an occasion when he was speaking to some CES teachers. I have only heard it second hand and I cannot recall it at the present but I could visit some teachers that were there and pin it down. And the scriptures enlightment on the curse is very interesting. My argument is that perhaps what people thought was repudiated was in fact never really there as a valid doctrine in the first place. Perhaps it was a perceived doctrine passed around by people. I mean this in regards to the practice and the doctrine behind the practice, and suggest that the cause of the practice was indeed valid at the time, but the doctrine behind it might have been very missunderstood.

    In the absence of very much information on Blood Atonement, I would suggest that it might be the same. There may very well be a principle of such that has not been taught fully or correctly and thereby leaving a lot of room for incorrect, supposedly doctrinal teaching that is in fact, really not doctrine at all. Should we reject anything because we don’t understand it?

    As far as Adam-God, that’s really a keg of worms to dig into and this is not the forum for it although in my opinion it ties in beautifully with the actual topic, i.e.: Women and the priesthood. It is amusing and interesting that although supposedly there is a belief in Prophets and the fact that they will not be allowed to lead the church astray and yet Brigham Young gets up and make statements In the name of Israel’s God, there is a clear enough understanding of it at the time to warrant the teaching of it for at least 15-20 years, many of the Twelve at the time believe it and teach it in one degree or another, AND it is held as a required belief for baptism in Britain for a time. (case examples on file) And somehow, it disappears into oblivion….interesting. We conveniently dismiss it as Brigham being “mis-quoted”.

    And back to Plural Marriage, it has been a pleasure to write you because it has made me realize what I can state based on scripture rather then just belief. I do not know and I cannot call anything to mind (scripture) that says that everyone as a God will have to live that law or practice. It might be as you say and be that some men will and the rest won’t. Presently, I do not know. I do know that Joseph F. Smith did make some comments to the effect that they would have to but you might disagree with that and say it was just his opinion. And there may be some statements by Joseph Smith that could be interpreted that way. I would have to dig into note s and research. In scripture, I cannot say that I currently know of anything. I will say that it is my feeling that eventually, they will need to live that law to continue to grow and progress. I just believe that it is the natural process of things. But we’re really into speculation here and off of the beaten path. For instance, was Mary, the mother of Jesus, our Heavenly Father’s wife? Was she a NEW wife? One from this earth? Or was she Joseph’s wife in the next l realm? And just how infinite and eternal is the atonement? Is there other saviors for other earths? This is why it all plays into Adam-God. But I really hesitate to bring up all of this stuff. It’s probably going to raise a ruccas.

    I any case do you have a problem with the idea that it takes male and female, complete and joined to create the office or condition of “God”? And if we believe that and we believe that a Woman holds the priesthood in connection with her husband, each to accomplish their identified role, not as modern society views it but as the Lord would have it in a state and condition of Zion, why should they be ordained to the priesthood?

    Add I add that it truly has a been a pleasure to talk with you. :)

  80. Alma
    August 19, 2006 at 3:27 am

    Sorry about the typos…I was in a hurry.

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