Rationales for womens’ priesthood

Some of our readers and participants have expressed a belief that eligibility for priesthood ought to be extended to women. I’m curious about the reasoning underlying different participants’ acceptance of this argument. That is, if you believe in the statement “the priesthood should be available to women,â€? what is your rationale for that belief? There seem to be a number of potential possibilities (which are not exclusive).

The first potential rationale is administrative: Priesthood should be available to women for administrative and governance reasons. Priesthood is linked at present to church hierarchy and leadership. Under this rationale, positions of hierarchy and authority should be available to women as well as men; therefore, women should be given the priesthood.

A second rationale potential rationale is ordinance-linked, arising from the ordinance-giving nature of priesthood. Priesthood involves a number of ordinances that hold important places in the Mormon view of spirituality: Baptism, sacrament, and so forth. Without the priesthood, women are unable to officiate in these ordinances, and so women miss out on the full range of potential spiritual experience. This rationale, then, is that women should be given the priesthood so that they can baptize, administer the sacrament, and so forth, and enjoy the spiritual benefits of such participation.

A third potential rationale is doctrinal, and relates to the doctrinal nature of the priesthood. The priesthood is described as the power of God on earth. It is linked to one’s ability to act in God’s name. Under this rationale, women should receive the priesthood in order to make clear under church doctrine that they are no less worthy or able to act in God’s name or employ his power on earth. Under this line of reasoning, a gender divide in priesthood eligibility would be unacceptable even if priesthood were not linked to ordinance-giving or to leadership.

A fourth rationale is a general equality- or difference-related argument. That is, perhaps the harm of women’s exclusion does not arise out of inability to participate in the administrative, ordinance-linked, or doctrinal aspects of priesthood. Perhaps the harm arises from the general practice of drawing lines in the first place. Under this view, women should receive the priesthood not necessarily because of any factor related to priesthood use itself in the church today, but rather because any gendered distinction is suspect, as likely to reinforce negative gender stereotypes.

(A possible corollary to the fourth rationale is that women should receive the priesthood because prohibiting eligibility based on gender creates a perception that women are less valuable in God’s eyes. This could have negative effects, with women treated as less valuable due to that perception. A further corollary might be some kind of “divine discrimination” argument — that is, the argument that without the priesthood, women are less valuable in God’s eyes).

Of course, none of these rationales are exclusive. One could believe that priesthood should be available for reasons both doctrinal, ordinance-related, administrative, and equality-related — or any combination thereof. Or there could be other potential rationales I haven’t noticed.

So, the question: If you believe that the priesthood should be available to women, why do you feel that way? Which of these ideas, if any, contribute to your understanding? How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Thread rules: This is intended as a narrowly-focused thread, focusing on why women’s priesthood proponents hold their views. General flame-wars, threadjacks, ax-grinding, calls-to-repentance, and so forth relating to women and the priesthood in general will be deleted.

[Also, 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.]

71 comments for “Rationales for womens’ priesthood

  1. Don
    July 17, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    I don’t have a problem with women holding the priesthood for any or all of your reasons. It appears in the wording in Genesis that they are restricted maybe because of Eve. What would have happened if Adam had partaken first?

    If women were allowed to hold the priesthood the church would go on functioning just as it does now…maybe more effectively.

    They have control over everything else…why not the priesthood too?

  2. July 17, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    It appears in the wording in Genesis that they are restricted maybe because of Eve. What would have happened if Adam had partaken first?

    This assumption/speculation shows, in my mind, a lack of understanding about the priesthood in the eternal realm. Speculating that it was given to Adam because he “held out the longest” has no basis whatsoever.

  3. Mark Butler
    July 17, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    For reasons I have outlined before, it seems hardly tenable to consider Genesis 2-3 a literal account of anything – rather apparently an unusually bad allegory of what we do know about pre-existent conditions from modern revelation (war in heaven, fall of Lucifer, nature of temptation, etc.). So I too agree with Connor that Genesis 2-3 as an explanation of gender restrictions in the priesthood is largely without foundation. (cf. the Documentary Hypothesis for a possible explanation)

  4. July 17, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    My fundamental rationale goes something like this:

    The Church always absorbs, to some degree, the weaknesses of the culture in which it is embedded. Because its initial leadership and members were drawn from a society that was racist and sexist (by today’s standards–think slavery and pre-women’s suffrage), the human institution reflected some of these values. We’ve gotten rid of much of the racist elements over time, and even some of the sexist aspects, but the institution retains a fundamentally sexist approach to the priesthood.

    Essentially, I feel that the latter-day priesthood institution was founded at a time when women were perceived by American society (in general) as inferior to men in ecclesiastical, political, and administrative leadership (but perhaps superior morally). This thinking seems archaic to me, since I believe that men and women have equal potential in each of these areas. Given this reasoning, I suppose that my argument would fit under rationales #1 and #4.

  5. July 17, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    What would have happened if Adam had partaken first?

    Alma 13 seems to indicate that priesthood was a premortal entity, not simply a mortal one.

    Consider also the following:
    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years� (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157).

    We know that “the Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed� (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157).

    Russell M. Nelson, “Constancy amid Change,� Ensign, Nov. 1993, 33

  6. Mark Butler
    July 17, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    John (#4), I believe you would have to extend that argument to the assertion that everyone from Adam to the present day was similarly unenlightened, plus the assertion that Adam (or whoever) did not found the practice on any sort of revelation, but something he just made up for whatever reason.

  7. DKL
    July 17, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    All of these reasons were also advanced as a case for giving non-Levite men the priesthood. And now look. All men can have the priesthood whether they’re descendants of Levi or not (my how things change). Is this an indicator of things to come? I sure hope so. My main rationale for giving women the priesthood is that it lowers by more than half the probability that I’ll get a calling that requires me to attend PEC.

  8. July 17, 2006 at 9:03 pm

    Mark (#6), I use the same argument to understand why the blacks were denied the priesthood. It makes more sense to me that the source of that policy was in humanity’s foibles rather than God’s perfect goodness.

  9. Mark Butler
    July 17, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    John (#8),

    I would say that there is no natural asymmetry or division of labor between blacks and non-blacks, nor any but the flimsiest of precedents for making that distinction in our day, where there is an ample natural basis for such a division of labor between men and women.

    It is also worth noting here that one can hardly criticize the leaders of the Church in this matter without critizicing God himself. The question is not why the leaders are so unenlightened as to withhold the priesthood from women, but why has God been so unenlightened not to give it to them? Where has there ever been a female angel dispatched to ordain some one else to the priesthood, male or female?

    Where are the records of the female prophets, apocryphal or otherwise? Where are the women who even ever claimed to be a prophet? Or even write theological texts? What about all those nuns who never married? Why didn’t they ever write books of this sort? What was holding them back? Monks wrote them by the hundreds.

  10. July 17, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    DKL, post 7: “…it lowers by more than half the probability that I’ll get a calling that requires me to attend PEC.”

    Under that rationale, I’d support almost anything. Very funny!

  11. Mark Butler
    July 17, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    And compensates by dramatically increasing the probability of being called to the Relief Society or Primary presidencies…

  12. AmyB
    July 17, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    Mark Butler(post 9) I would say that there is no natural asymmetry or division of labor between blacks and non-blacks, nor any but the flimsiest of precedents for making that distinction in our day, where there is an ample natural basis for such a division of labor between men and women.”

    Mark, I think this is becoming less and less true. In the secular world, while there is still some inequality, women do the same work men do (except perhaps play pro football). Division of labor is not so gendered anymore. If that is your argument for why women don’t have the priesthood, I would counter that it is precisely why it’s time.

  13. Mark Butler
    July 17, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    It is not an argument, just a likely contributing factor related to balancing the natural authority a mother has over her own children, especially while they are young. The only conclusive argument is the will of God and his reasons for deciding one way or the other. Or in more detailed terms, the divinely authored division of labor between men and women in the plan of salvation and the family order, and how such a facially discriminatory plan ever managed to get a super majority in the council in heaven.

    The people who rebelled in heaven did not do so on sexist grounds, by the way, according to Joseph Smith. So the real question is how or why did every single women who has been born on the earth cast a vote in favor of the plan of salvation? A plan that by every available evidence has always had different (though overlapping) roles for men and women in families – roles written into our very biology.

  14. July 17, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    Mark (#9), Kaimi explicitly stated that this “is intended as a narrowly-focused thread, focusing on why women’s priesthood proponents hold their views.” I think that you make points that are worthy of a response, but I think that this might be the wrong context for an argument that presumes that the women should not hold the priesthood. Perhaps a more appropriate debate on this thread would focus on the realtive merits of different rationales for why women should have the priesthood.

    You are right: my rationale is a historical one and is founded on the assumption of the humanity of the Church and its leaders. I know that this approach helps some of my feminist friends who hope for a day when the Church will extend the priesthood to all women. I realize that it is a theologically/scripturally weak argument, and I hope that others can provide better ones.

  15. Kaimi Wenger
    July 17, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    John (14),

    Thanks for staying on topic.


    You raise interesting points, but a lot of that is outside the scope of this thread. Ultimately, this thread is meant to find out a the beliefs of a particular segment of our readership. If it turns into a general discussion, that focus will be lost.


    We’ve had three or four general women-and-priesthood threads over the past few weeks, where all sorts of comments were made. This thread is not one of those. It’s focused on a particular subpart of the broader discussion. Extraneous comments will be removed — some already have been.

  16. July 17, 2006 at 10:21 pm


    You are right: my rationale is a historical one and is founded on the assumption of the humanity of the Church and its leaders.

    This is an honest rationale without any subterfuge or subtlety. One I can easily understand.

    If this is indeed the premise for discussion, then I would suggest that no other rationale is required. Women should have whatever they demand and can obtain by whatever means available. They should be fully justified in forcing church leaders to submit to their will, since the whole structure of religion is simply a mask for the heirarchy of a corrupt domineering patriarchy.

    On the other hand, if we accept such an assumption, why would anyone, men or women, want to be a part of it?

  17. anon-17
    July 17, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    I think that for some, the 4th line of reasoning (with its corollary) is not taken far enough. There may also be a restorative or reparative role for providing women with the priesthood. The central impulse would be seeing priesthood as a way to help overcome the painful and serious effects of societal patriarchy and misogyny, rather than as a religious practice that dovetails nicely with a long history of unjust treatment of women. By this reasoning, even if priesthood restriction were not per se harmful on sexual discrimination grounds, there could be a reason to end priesthood restriction: it would be a message from God and his people to the outside world that they reject the long history of unjust treatment of women seen in the outside world.

  18. DKL
    July 17, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    Sorry, Kaimi. Please delete my comment (and this one for cleanup) if they don’t fit within your framework.

  19. July 17, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    DKL: “All of these reasons were also advanced as a case for giving non-Levite men the priesthood.” Where is this information from, out of personal curiosity.

    Kaimi, I see your third rationale as closest to my beliefs. I see the Priesthood as the Authority to act in God’s name (as you mentioned) _and_ more importantly (to me) the power by which the worlds are and were created. In other words God creates and governs His creations with this power. This means that the Priesthood power will continue to be necessary to exalted beings (ie, it’s not a ‘just for here and now’ kind of power), and it is the power by which anything worthwhile is accomplished. Therefore if women are going to be doing *anything* in the hereafter we will need the Priesthood, or some equivalent.

    I’d love it if it were made available now, mostly for the psychological effects it would have on the relationships between men and women right now. I’m okay with things how they are right now, but I don’t see how promises that are given to women can be fulfilled without women eventually obtaining some form of priesthood power.

  20. July 17, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Maybe if women get the priesthood we won’t have to do hometeaching.

    (Actually, I don’t mind hometeaching … I’m just trying to be funny)

  21. Johnny
    July 17, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    Three reasons…
    1. What can it hurt? Honestly, why wouldn’t we want more priesthood in our world?

    2. All are alike unto God, male and female/ There is neither Jew or Greek…male nor female, but you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    3. My biggest reason however comes from the gospel narratives. When read them in their context they serve as a strong critique of patriarchy. Jesus goes out of his way to include women, heal them, forgive them, teach them, and reveal himself to them, oftentimes breaking the Law of Moses and important norms of his time. I don’t think that any type of priesthood ban is at all consistent with the life and teachings of Jesus.

  22. cj douglass
    July 17, 2006 at 11:40 pm


  23. claire
    July 17, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    comment 19 (some form of priesthood power) and Kaimi’s second point reminds my of something my MIL mentioned recently when we were discussing this topic. She recently served a mission/’assignment’ in the temple and said it changed her perceptions and ideas about women and the priesthood. In her mind, women most certainly ‘hold’ the priesthood, in that they perform and officiate in priesthood ordinances in the temple. I didn’t ask, but wonder if she and my FIL were given the ‘second annointing’ I’ve heard referred to, as he is a sealer (is that something you are ordained to? Anyway..) She doesn’t feel neglected that she can’t bless the sacrament, etc. when she is able to perform higher ordinances in relation to the temple.

  24. Julie M. Smith
    July 17, 2006 at 11:56 pm

    “I don’t think that any type of priesthood ban is at all consistent with the life and teachings of Jesus.”

    As much as the traditions about Mary of Magdela, the anointing woman, Mary of Bethany, et al., are important (as well as the picture, in Mark at least, of the 12 in a less-than-flattering light), it is also relevant that the 12 that Jesus chose were men. Which is a long way of saying that I think your statement relies on a selective reading of the evidence. Which is not to discount the fact that the way that Jesus treated women clearly showed that they were not second class citizens in His kingdom, and that somehow this was compatible with the fact that men took on leadership roles.

  25. July 18, 2006 at 12:08 am

    In her mind, women most certainly ‘hold’ the priesthood, in that they perform and officiate in priesthood ordinances in the temple.

    I’ve been a temple worker, and in order to “hold” the priesthood, you have to have it conferred upon you. This does not take place when you are set apart as a temple worker. Being a sealer is not an office in the priesthood, so, again, it is a form of authority — authorization — given. In short, having authority to do something under the priesthood is not the same as holding priesthood. The ability for men and women to perform ordinances in the temple is something that happens under the priesthood umbrella, and is a matter of having the authorization to perform those ordinances.

  26. Johnny
    July 18, 2006 at 1:10 am

    I think your statement relies on a selective reading of the evidence.

    Maybe I am a bit selective, although I have a hard time finding stories that justify exclusion. The choosing of the 12 may be one. Yet, I do not see how Jesus ordaining 12 men at his time justifies the inference that that the priesthood should always be limited to men. He chose 12 Jewish men, but this does not mean that only people of strictly Jewish descent should hold the priesthood. Jesus’ kingdom was one where the first are last and the last are first. Women at that time were considered least, and so it seems reasonable to think that those teachings can apply to them. I don’t think someone can be first in the kingdom and still be excluded from the substantial gifts of the kingdom.

    Which is not to discount the fact that the way that Jesus treated women clearly showed that they were not second class citizens in His kingdom Couldn’t have said it better myself. Only I would add that the reason women are not second class is that there are no classes in Christ’s Kingdom.

  27. Brenda
    July 18, 2006 at 1:38 am

    I like the tenet of this thread. I understand the reason for the query. I’m a strong-headed woman well versed in the politics of feminism. But I’m going to make an alternate proposal.

    Honestly, I love that men hold the priesthood and are taught at a very young age about his honorable responsibility. I believe that this is one reason why so many men are engaged in our religion.

    On the other hand, we do have a problem with the perception and reality of the value of women in our organization. I don’t think that addressing the fundamental issues requires extending the priesthood to women.

    If you have any experience working in a large company that does business with the world, you can easily see where we can do better: diversity and doctrine. First, we’ve slowly (incredibly slowly) seen the roles of a few of our female leaders become more visible (General RS and YW presidencies). Bring it on! We can create more visible roles and allow more women to influence policy and administration decisions. It’s hard to give credence to a conference talk on the role of mothers that is delivered by a white, male leader who has likely never spent time as a full-time caregiver to small children. I don’t believe giving more women visible roles requires extending the priesthood to women. Also, imagine if General Authorities were called as couples, with both spouses playing a role (I realize this suggestion will tweak some of your minds!).

    Second, if our message is that women are divinely equal to men then we really need to scrub our doctrines to match. As long as polygamy is an accepted (albeit not practiced) doctrine, the value of women can never be the same as men. If you are a man, you may never understand this. Interestingly, while our society historically devalued blacks and we were late to extend the priesthood to these members, I don’t know of any places in our doctrine or curriculum where blacks are stereotyped or devalued (except one instance in the BoM). On the other hand, our curriculum materials are laden with the type of gender stereotyping that lead to the perception that women are less capable or should be more submissive. The Young Women’s manuals are the worst, relics from the 1980s, a truly reactionary period in the history of our church with regard to gender roles. The recent proclamation to the family does a good job of articulating strong and equal roles for both spouses without reverting to gender stereotypes (truly inspiration for our generation!).

    I love the contributions that men make in our church through the priesthood. On the other hand we can do better at our “divinely equalâ€? message and carving out larger roles for women. I don’t believe these actions require extending the priesthood to women but they can make a huge impact.

  28. July 18, 2006 at 1:59 am

    Also, imagine if General Authorities were called as couples, with both spouses playing a role

    In a very real sense, this already happens to some degree, although not formally. I think if you talked with a wife of a general authority, you would come to find out that a call to him is very much a call of sorts to her. I watched that kind of teamwork with my area president and his wife on my mission — they were such a team! She would speak with him, and I imagine she also traveled with him a lot and had her sphere of influence with individuals as they traveled and visited different units. I’m fairly certain the wives also help mission president’s wives in their roles as well (and MP callings are as a couple!) Just wanted to point out that there is already probably some level of couple-ness in those callings, even if not formally in the calling per se.

  29. Jack
    July 18, 2006 at 2:53 am

    Rationales for women’s priesthood?

    –to give women the opportunity of knowing what it feels to have your conscience pour over you like a barrel of bricks when someone asks you for a blessing.

    –to help women gain first-hand understanding of what it’s like to excercise unrighteous dominion by virtue of the priesthood. (as we may suppose)

    –to help women appreciate what it feels like to carry a greater burden of chastizement.

    –to instill within the hearts and minds of women the notion that one’s highest responsibilty is to one’s family.

    –to help the church “reach out” by flowing with the mainstream.

  30. Seth R.
    July 18, 2006 at 8:44 am

    I have more sympathy for all the other rationales Kaimi listed than I do for the “equality” rationale.

    I’m not primarily concerned with whether people are being treated equally or not.

    Equality = Sameness

    Equality does not equal Fairness.

    I agree with fairness. I do not agree with equality.

  31. Toby
    July 18, 2006 at 9:13 am

    If priesthood is determined by one’s sex, and one’s sex is determined by biology, what do we do with a hermaphrodite? I don’t actually have a problem with women holding the priesthood. Just don’t ask me to attend Relief Society.

  32. TMD
    July 18, 2006 at 9:38 am

    My sense is that when priesthood is extended to women, it will not necessarily be the same order of priesthood as that given to men. I think this is the best theologically grounded expectation–considering roles in the temple, doctrines associated with H. Mother, etc. I have no idea what it might look like, but I would not expect it to be the exact same as that given to men (I don’t have any idea what this would look like–a new order (aaronic, melchezidec and X, or some other set of AP/MP offices, I’m not sure). Therefore, the only one of Kaimi’s reasons that I see is #3 (doctrinal) but I don’t see it as being the exact same–rather it would merely be an extension of the blessings of service associated with the priesthood to more people. The others, associated with the mitigation of difference, would of course not be altered by having women hold a different priesthood (within, of course, the wider priesthood associated with Christ).

    To threadjack slightly, I don’t understand why everyone expects that a priesthood given to women would necessarily be an ‘extension’, rather than a new creation, or something different. All this, of course, would require new revelation of the highest kind…

  33. Kiskilili
    July 18, 2006 at 11:39 am

    #3 best encapsulates my primary reason, (though I think especially #1 and #2 have merit as well). None of the doctrine that has been fabricated to explain the restriction of priesthood to men actually makes much sense to me. Sometimes I think the best reason to ordain women to the priesthood would be so we can stop explaining to ourselves in elaborate convolutions why we don’t. :)

  34. Kevin Barney
    July 18, 2006 at 11:44 am

    My feelings echo the comments of John Remy. I would favor giving women the priesthood. My main thinking has to do with what I see as the rather obvious cultural conditioning underlying the current exclusion, and our failure to take full advantage of the tremendous administrative talent of all the membership. (And I also agree fully with the concluding sentence of #7.)

    As for rationales *not* to extend the priesthood, one would be the specter of schism. The Community of Christ experience is a cautionary tale, perhaps. But personally I would rather “do what is right, let the consequence follow.”

    The rationale for not doing it I am most sympathetic with is one alluded to by Brenda in #27, that a male priesthood accounts for the tremendous active involvement of men in our Church, something almost unheard of in most other Christian churches. While having sole possession of the priesthood may be a motivating factor for many men in the Church, ultimately I personally don’t find such sole possession motivating at all. Our sole possession of the priesthood makes it difficult for me to take priesthood seriously. It almost seems like we’re little boys playing at running a church, rather than grown men who are serious and responsible in what we’re doing–which in my view would entail including women.

    So, although I am not some sort of an activist on this issue, my personal preference would be to include women in the priesthood.

  35. Rosalynde Welch
    July 18, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t advocate women’s ordination, but I would probably be most persuaded to do so by a sort of functionalist rationale along the lines of Nate’s post a while back. That is, priesthood office works as a powerful vector of socialization for men, by means of its hitching the carrot of divine favor and the stick of divine disfavor to a set of behavioral norms; women would benefit from a similar means of socialization aimed at correcting their unChristian behaviors (which are different from men’s, to be sure, but no less disruptive to the social fabric of the Church).

    I’m not persuaded by the first three rationales, and indeed I might explicitly reject the fourth.

  36. Hannah G.
    July 18, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Since I do not know whether or not I favor women’s ordination to the priesthood, I can’t say that I have a specific rationale. However, as a woman, I have thought a lot about what it means for me to not have the priesthood. There are some questions I can’t help but worry about. This echoes some of the ideas in Mark’s post (number 8): If the priesthood is the power of God (and the authority to use it) on earth, then could it be that the reason men (and men alone) have access to it on earth is because they (and they alone) have access to it in heaven? If the corollary for priesthood is motherhood, then it seems that our divine eternal roles would stay divided on this line. Heavenly Father is a father, not a mother, yet perhaps the reason he is the one we worship and interact with (through Jesus Christ) is because he holds the priesthood, and our Heavenly Mother doesn’t. Whenever I start thinking about this, I start to worry that perhaps women are subordinate to men in the eternal scheme of things…and it is because I would rather think that we all are equal that I start to think that maybe women having the priesthood would “prove” to me that women and men are alike unto God.
    I am sorry because I know I am not expressing myself very well, and I am sorry if this is a little off-topic. I just thought I would throw out there that for me, the rationale behind (at times) wanting women to hold the priesthood is because it makes it easier for me to believe in a just and loving God, and an eternal scheme of things where men and women become one and are together Gods and Goddesses, Kings and Queens, etc., etc.

  37. Mark Butler
    July 18, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    All I can say is any serious examination of the New and Old Testaments, with the benefit of modern prophetic commentary, amply demonstrates that the first order approximation of divinity in the scriptures is highly simplified. The name for God in the Old Testament (Elohim) is a literal plural according to Joseph Smith. Ponder that for a minute.

  38. Mark Butler
    July 18, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Also we have ample reason to believe that the order of heaven is rather different than the temporal order here. Simply performing a blind substitution will not work. When the oddities of the present regime are corrected, it will be in favor of something rather different than what we have now, by all accounts. I believe there will still be a division of labor in many areas, but not nearly as severe as the one we now have. Exactly how and where is hard to say.

  39. Hannah G.
    July 18, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    I have thought about that (Mark’s 37 comment). And I love the idea of God being a combination of our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. But if that is the case, then I think the case for extending priesthood to women (or at least to those who are sealed–sort of like how people were talking about General Authorities’ wives being called in tandem) is stronger–that something like that would reflect God’s way more than the current (male-only) system. Granted, we do not yet live the Celestial Law and it may be that we are currently living a lesser law whereas in eternity and the life hereafter women will have access to the powers of Godhood. For some women, yearning for a higher law, or the way they imagine things will be in the next life, could be their explanation of why women should be granted the priesthood now.

  40. Hannah G.
    July 18, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Or at least why they would want it.

  41. bbell
    July 18, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    The only one of the functions that I find any merit with is assumption #1. It would help many struggling units if some functions could be handled by either sex. This of course could be done without female ordination though.

    Was up with the gender topics recently?

  42. Mark Butler
    July 18, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    My idea of divine plurality is rather more extensive than that, but that is a topic for another day.

  43. Kiskilili
    July 18, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    (Elohim is morphologically masculine plural. But remember that, when referring to Israel’s God, it almost invariably takes a masculine singular verb. Ponder that for a minute.)

  44. JohnDoe
    July 18, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Here\’s another reason for wanting to allow women to have full/equal access to the rights of the priesthood (which might fall into a sort of doctrinal category): preparation for the eternities. In other words, if the promise is that women will one day be queens and priestesses, I would simply ask this question, how can one be a priestess and *not* hold the priesthood? If this is a reasonable assumption, since women will apparently hold the priesthood publically/formally in the next life, why not prepare now? Thus, preparation for the eternities might be one reason to grant women the priesthood while in mortality. Now, some might argue that the present \”division of labor\” is indeed just that, an adequate preparation, but if that\’s the case, then this entire post (i.e. that there are legitimate/sincere/non-rebellious reasons for desiring that women hold the priesthood) seems a bit superfluous.

    However, as some of you are aware, the fulfillment of that promise–to become a queen/priestess, which amounts to receiving the \’fulness of the priesthood\’–is something that is obtainable in this life. So, does the fact that there seems to be one way in which women can (and do) hold the priesthood while in mortality affect this discussion at all? Given the privacy involved in and sacred nature of that authority, I don\’t suppose it\’s pertinent/appropriate to this discussion, but I thought it something that was at least worth pointing out.

  45. Aaron Brown
    July 18, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    I have never been able to muster up strong feelings on this subject. I would be happy if women received the priesthood, but am not tearing my hair out as a result of their not having it. Honestly, I find myself wishing for women’s priesthood most strongly when I see an LDS man pontificating about his own supposed authority and clearly feeling full of himself. If women’s ordination served to pull the rug out from under certain LDS men whose identities and sense of self-worth are largely products of their exclusively-male priesthood status, that would only be a good thing.

    Aaron B

  46. Mark Butler
    July 18, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    43: There is a perfectly good explanation for that, relating to divine investiture of authority, and certain linguistic conventions, but it is off topic here.

  47. July 18, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    If this is a reasonable assumption, since women will apparently hold the priesthood publically/formally in the next life, why not prepare now? Thus, preparation for the eternities might be one reason to grant women the priesthood while in mortality.

    I think this is basically imposes mortal constructs on God’s order of things. We can’t make assumptions about what things will be like in the next life, so to try to assert what ‘should’ be in order to prepare for something we know little to nothing about seems really, really presumptuous. We’ve already been told the way things “should” be. Suggesting otherwise seems tantamount to saying that God doesn’t know what He’s doing with the order of things now or something. Not a good rationale, IMO.

    So, I think the following really is correct.
    Now, some might argue that the present \�division of labor\� is indeed just that, an adequate preparation, but if that\’s the case, then this entire post (i.e. that there are legitimate/sincere/non-rebellious reasons for desiring that women hold the priesthood) seems a bit superfluous.

    I think we also need to realize that there is more to our preparation than just mortal life. We have the spirit world work that goes one, plus Millenial work that will take place as well. “Preparation” for eternal roles is most definitely more than just a mortal endeavor. That said, we still don’t have a clue how gender roles will play out in those interim states, nor in the eternities.

  48. Raul
    July 18, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    One question I have: what is the desire for a woman to hold the priesthood? I can exercise my priesthood in my family, but that\’s about it unless I\’m acting under the direction of my church leaders. So in one sense, most members are under the direction of a few priesthood holders and do not exercise priesthood in the organization of the church. I am not complaining about this is anyway. I am just pionting out that me and my wife are both under the direction of other priesthood leaders. I can exercise priesthood within my own family, where my wife is usually right there with me. Chances of any man in the church using his priesthood to lead the church are not that great. I

    So this almost seems to be an issue of leading, period, not so much women having the priesthood. And when the domestication of women comes up, I think that I am about as domesticated as my wife. The church seems to advocate men being home as much as possible, that raising a family is one of the most noble efforts, all of which I believe too.

    What would happen if we just said to women, ok you now have the priesthood that you can exercise in your families. Would that be enough? Or would we then have discussions about why women can\’t be stake president?

  49. Adam Greenwood
    July 18, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    I really hesitate to post this link, because I’m a believer in the priesthood as it is and don’t want my brethren to abandon that position:


  50. JohnDoe
    July 18, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    M&M (re: 47): Although this is off-topic, I think there are some good canonical as well as non-canonical reasons for making assumptions about what things will be like in the next life. For example, D&C 130 seems to offer just the sort of speculation that you seem to be uncomfortable with. And, assuming that the belief that men & women can maintain a marital relationship beyond the grave (D&C 132), that would seem like another fairly reasonable assumption that can, is, and should be made. Granted, such assumptions/perspectives are always (necessarily) limited by numerous factors related to our mortal condition, but were it not for the fundamental assumption in LDS thought that God’s (eternal) perspective is revealed in the sources that explicate such notions, I would tend to agree with you that such speculation is indeed “really, really presumptuous.”

    Also, re: the following: “We’ve already been told the way things “shouldâ€? be.” My apologies if I’m misunderstanding your point, but I guess if that’s the case, I’m not sure the point of having this discussion in the first place. In other words, why talk about reasons why women should hold the priesthood if the divinely inspired authorities have already told us that that should not be the case.

    However, more relevant to my post as well as this thread, I wasn’t clear whether or not you addressed my central claim (i.e. that being a priestess entails holding the priesthood). Are you disagreeing with this suggestion? If so, why? My further claim, however, and this isn’t simply assumption or speculation, is that the fulfillment of the promise to which I am referring–becoming a priestess–entails that women can/do hold the (fulness of the) priesthood in this life, because although it may never be spoken of publicly, it’s administration occurs on a fairly regular basis. So, I am only making an observation about the priesthood in that particular aspect, or with respect to those particular ordinances, which may very well not have much bearing on a discussion about the prieshood in its public form/administration. It seems to me that that anticipation of such blessings should at least merit some limited consideration.

  51. greenfrog
    July 18, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    For me, the best rationale is Kaimi’s #1.

    My wife has enormous potential to be an effective, creative, and compassionate administrator. She has very little chance of developing that potential or sharing the benefits of those talents within the structure of the Church, which generally isn’t interested in such talents when they come in female packages (and, yes, I’m aware that women are not excluded from every Church calling requiring administrative skills — just from most of them and from almost all the ones beyond the ward level).

    Conversely, as an LDS-compliant SAHM, she has relatively limited opportunity to develop that potential or share the benefits of those talents in ventures outside the home, as well.

    That leaves me with the hope that we started having kids early enough (and stopped early enough) that she’ll still have time to develop those talents for her own good and for the good of others once our children leave the nest.

  52. greenfrog
    July 18, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    Adam — was that the right link — to a discussion of abortion under the Church of England? (Please feel free to delete this, if it was, and I’m just (as usual) missing something.)

  53. Adam Greenwood
    July 18, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    Scroll down, manny.

  54. Téa
    July 18, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    The absence of doctrine explicitly stating that women by their very natures/gender are incapable of holding the priesthood is another rationale.

    TMD’s(# 32) reference to women potentially receiving priesthood X (I would add another X to be cute!) would make a different statement on the nature of women altogether.

  55. Bored in Vernal
    July 18, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    Interesting…when I first read this post, I purposely did not comment, because the parameters seemed very clear:

    “If you believe that the priesthood should be available to women, why do you feel that way? Which of these ideas, if any, contribute to your understanding? How did you arrive at that conclusion?”

    Since I don’t exactly believe women should hold the very same priesthood as is currently held by men, I held my tongue. Thread rules stated that it was to be focused on why women’s priesthood proponents held their views. I was interested to see what would be said on that topic.

    Now we have 54 posts. Of these, I believe almost half blatantly violated thread rules, leaving 1, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 27, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 44, 45, 51, and 54 on topic. (Post #15 reiterated the rules, and still they were disregarded.)

    Of these posts, only a tiny fraction actually give us real insight on the question at hand. (see especially #44.) Too bad. I think this was a worthy question to be discussed.

  56. July 18, 2006 at 8:00 pm

    Wow, Bored in Vernal. You must be bored to go through and catalog all the posts like that. :)

  57. Jack
    July 18, 2006 at 9:01 pm


    It took me a while to figure that one out. But know that have, let me add another rationale too my list–

    –to increase the opportunity for women to get white-collar jobs.

  58. paul frandsen
    July 18, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    It seems that having a one sided discussion of all the reasons why one is in favor of a position is less effective as a vigorous exploration of the tenets is not acheived. Since we all know t&s is about vigorous exploration, perhaps a pure cheerleading session is unattainable–maybe even undesirable.

    I am interested in the rationales, but would prefer those rationales to be defended and honed.

  59. Mark Butler
    July 18, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Perhaps that means that the other commenters are not women’s priesthood proponents, not temporally anyway, and as such had nothing to say that strictly fit within the rules. The real question is where are all the rest of the TWPPs?

  60. July 18, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    It seems to me that that anticipation of such blessings should at least merit some limited consideration.

    Still, we know so very little about what such things mean in this life or the next. I actually had a longer response ready to go, but since someone called us to task for being off topic, I hesitate to go on anymore about it. :)

  61. Randy B.
    July 19, 2006 at 12:07 am

    “The real question is where are all the rest of the TWPPs?”

    Well there is at least one that is trying to get through a mountain of work so he can go on vacation.

    That said, I think Paul has a good point. I’ve never been a big fan of attempts at T&S to strictly bracket discussion to those on one side of an argument. While imposing certain limited restrictions has worked in a few instances in the past, more often it simply drains the discussion of the energy necessary to make things interesting. I think that has happened here.

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

    I can’t agree, gentlemen. Granted, limiting the discussion didn’t work well here, mainly because the limits were ignored. But this recent discussion thrived because of the limits that commenters respected:

  63. Randy B.
    July 19, 2006 at 10:42 am

    One difference, Adam, is that there you established some basic assumptions and ground rules but did not foreclose debate on the central question of your post.

    Here, it seems there is no room for debate at all. Rather, the primary question here is: “If you believe that the priesthood should be available to women, why do you feel that way.” In other words, Kaimi is calling for a one-sided explanation.

    The problem with this thread is not that people failed respect the limits set by Kaimi. The rules here simply don’t promote serious discussion. (Of course, as I noted before, I do think establishing ground rules can help under certain circumstances; it’s just difficult to do it a way that works.)

  64. Adam Greenwood
    July 19, 2006 at 10:52 am

    “In other words, Kaimi is calling for a one-sided explanation.”

    Suppose that he is? Curiousity about why people believe what they believe is just as valid a motive for posting as the desire to get a vigorous and serious discussion going.

  65. Randy B.
    July 19, 2006 at 11:04 am

    Agreed, Adam. I don’t think Kaimi’s motive is invalid. I simply question whether his method is effective.

  66. Adam Greenwood
    July 19, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Randy B.,

    Agreed, he needs to delete more.

  67. Randy B.
    July 19, 2006 at 11:17 am

    I have the sinking suspicion that we’re not really in agreement on all that much, but I suspect we are as close as we are going to get.

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

    I think we can both agree that we’re grateful Kaimi didn’t ask the other side to explain each side’s views.

    Why do they want to give the priesthood to women? Grasping pride, feminist hatred of authority, or mindless disrespect for tradition and scripture?

    Why do they want to keep the priesthood for men? Bigotry, male chauvinism, or mindless adherence to the dead hand of the past?

    That would have been interesting. Probably too interesting.

  69. Randy B.
    July 19, 2006 at 11:35 am

    I think that format is reserved for blogging about apologetics.

  70. Seth R.
    July 20, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    The Priesthood is needed because of the weakness of men.

    And no, I’m not saying women are “more-righteous” (gag). They are just as flawed as the men are.

    But men have their own style of weakness. And men need the Priesthood. And they need it to be exclusive. Perhaps God realizes this.

  71. Burke
    July 31, 2006 at 1:59 am

    I think women deserve to have the priesthood. Jack #29, are you implying that the priesthood is an extra burden that women don’t want or cannot handle?

    I think it would be great because Relief Society and Priesthood would become one body, and it might even remove the need for Sunday School. Two hours instead of three, that sounds great to me! What would the quorums be called, High Priests/Priestesses?

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