Once more, with feeling

So, we’re told that motherhood is given to women, as Priesthood to men. Two motherhood-priesthood thoughts occur to me:

1. True or false: “The rights of motherhood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principle of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the motherhood of that woman.
Behold, ere she is aware, she is left unto herself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all women, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of motherhoood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned . . . ”

Or in other words, do the well known verses in D&C 121, setting out the connection between priesthood and righteousness, apply to motherhood as well?

2. If motherhood is the analogue of priesthood, then what do we do with fatherhood? Does fatherhood have an analogue? (And don’t say motherhood, ’cause that one’s already taken!) If motherhood is the equivalent of priesthood, what is the equivalent of fatherhood? Or, to structure it in SAT format:

Motherhood:Priesthood :: Fatherhood:X.

What is X?

60 comments for “Once more, with feeling

  1. Mark Butler
    June 18, 2006 at 1:20 am

    Motherhood and fatherhood are both analogs of the priesthood. So is any form of righteous leadership.

  2. Eric Russell
    June 18, 2006 at 1:48 am

    X=Priestesshood. Which, for reasons unbeknownst to mankind, God has not required women to exercise to its fullest capacity in this era.

  3. Ariel
    June 18, 2006 at 2:31 am

    Eric, you made me smile. Thanks.

  4. Julie M. Smith
    June 18, 2006 at 9:13 am

    Kaimi, you know what I did once? I wrote out D & C 121 just like you did, replacing phood with mhood and he with she. I was trying to memorize it in order to be a little less crabbby and lazy with my kids (didn’t work).

    How’s this; it is from the SAT Math section:

    motherhood=priesthood + fatherhood + career

    It doesn’t leave anything out, gives us a sense of the multivalency and, er, not-strictly-physical-and.or-housekeeping (neologism, anyone?) aspects of motherhood, shows the need for leadership and spirituality as parts of motherhood, doesn’t relegate fatherhood to also-ran status, and shows visually why mothers of young children shouldn’t work.

  5. Adam Greenwood
    June 18, 2006 at 9:32 am

    1) I would say roughly, ultimately, yes. Just as men can appear to have the Priesthood now, and exercise, and those ordinances will have effect (we’re not Donatists), but come the day when he will have the priesthood no more and his ordinances will be given to another–ultimately, there will be no motherhood without righteousness, although it doesnt’ look that way now.

    2) Fatherhood IS priesthood. It doesn’t look that way now, but it will be. All fathers will eventually obtain the priesthood, retroactively ratifying their fatherhood, or their fatherhood will be stripped.

  6. Clair
    June 18, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Here is another gender-related scripture that reveals new insights when the roles are reversed. From Ephesians 5, REVERSED:

    25 WIVES, love your HUSBANDS, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
    26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
    27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
    28 So ought WOMEN to love their HUSBANDS as their own bodies. SHE that loveth HER HUSBAND loveth HERSELF.
    29 For no WOMAN ever yet hated HER own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
    30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
    31 For this cause shall a WOMAN leave HER father and mother, and shall be joined unto HER HUSBAND, and they two shall be one flesh.
    32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love HER HUSBAND even as HERSELF; and the HUSBAND see that HE reverence HIS WIFE.

    Happy FATHERS DAY to one and all.

  7. Tatiana
    June 18, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Happy Father’s Day! My Father did not have the Priesthood, but I miss him. I do believe the verse is true, Kaimi, just as it reads with your reversal. It’s true for motherhood and fatherhood both. But don’t forget that all losses will be restored and all lacks will be filled to overflowing. If we lose our fathers or mothers through their choice, other fathers and mothers will there be for us, who love us completely, and don’t exercise unrighteous dominion. And also for those of us who do not have children of the body in this life, many children there will be, of the mind and of the spirit, for us to nurture and love. Maybe even all those children who die before the age of accountability, and whose parents choose not to follow them into the Celestial Kingdom. Perhaps we shall have millions of children for our own, and endless time in which to give them the love and parenting they need.

  8. Kiskilili
    June 18, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Oh, Kaimi, you know I cannot resist taking on this issue!

    In answer to 1, I’m inclined to say “false.” Unlike the priesthood, the powers of motherhood ARE separable from the powers of heaven: even non-Mormons, even atheists, can become fabulous mothers (hey, even animals can be mothers), whereas no non-Mormons can be legitimate priests (and certainly no animals).

    Of course, one might argue that the biological process of motherhood relies on heavenly powers, but then, not in a way that’s qualitatively different from the manner in which life on the planet in general is sustained. Biological motherhood isn’t any more special in relying on those powers than is cellular mitotis.

    If we actually believe “the motherhood” really is comparable to the priesthood and refers to a metaphysical ability to channel the powers of heaven, why not at least set women apart with this special heavenly ability at the appropriate time?

    Also, when we define the priesthood as “the power to act in God’s name” and then restrict it to men, are we not indicating that it is inappropriate for a woman to “act in God’s name” (whatever that means)? In whose name, then, are mothers acting when they exercise “the motherhood”? (Heavenly Mother’s?)

    In answer to 2, I think the search for X reveals how misguided the analogy is. One might say Motherhood : Lightning Rod Manufacturers :: Fatherhood : X. I don’t know what X is, because I can’t articulate to myself any single clear relationship between Motherhood and Lightning Rod Manufacturers.

  9. Mark Butler
    June 18, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    The priesthood is *not* a metaphysical ability to channel the powers of heaven – it is a system of authority of divine authorship whose legitimacy is ultimately contingent on righteousness. Ordination to a priesthood office is a social act specified by divine decree – a symbol of recognition to both the Saints on earth and the Saints in heaven, comparable in general kind to baptism, or laying on of hands.

    Now other than marriage, the authority of motherhood requires no separate act, because childbirth is the ultimate such act – one that clearly establishes the natural and divinely created authority of a mother over her own children. Marriage extends the authority to fathers.

    The offices of the Priesthood as we know them extend authority to men to serve in authoritative righteousness-contigent roles beyond their immediate family. The legitimacy of sisterly ecclesiastical roles is established, and is contingent on the same basis.

    And indeed back in the realm of motherhood, the legitimacy thereof is maintained on the same principles as any other office, sacrifice, persuasion, long suffering, and love unfeigned.

    No bizarre metaphysics is required, largely just an extension of socio-cultural regimes from earth into heaven, and vice versa. Why is priesthood (or any other authority) contingent on righteousness. Because in unrightousness neither those on earth or in heaven will honor it. The power of God himself is contingent upon honor (cf. D&C 29:36)

  10. Danno Ferrin
    June 18, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    Kiskilili, that is not the same dichotomy I view it as, sverable vs. nonseverable. The powers of motherhood are similarly not separable from the powers of heavan, because the most female form, the creation of life where a spirit is temporaly bound to a body.

    I feel that the real dichotomy are conditional/unconditioal. Motherhood is unconditional and hence survives past apostacy. Whereas the various orders of the priesthood the men are ordained to are conditional. The particular verse Kaimi was basing hers off of IMHO is showing just how conditional, and upon what conditions it is based. A small helpless child can benifit from a nursing mother refardless of how much she has taken to hiding her sins. A priesthood leader, however, cannot lead without hiding their sins, his poser is conditional.

    Feminine:Unconditional Power::Masculine:Conditional Power

  11. Bored in Vernal
    June 18, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    True or false: “The rights of motherhood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principle of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the motherhood of that woman.
    Behold, ere she is aware, she is left unto herself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
    We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all women, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
    No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of motherhoood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned . . . �

    Replacing “motherhood” with “priesthood” reveals how flawed the analogy is.
    1. the rights of motherhood are not inseperably connected with the powers of heaven. Unrighteous women are just as likely to obtain the calling of motherhood as righteous ones, whereas with the priesthood you must be worthy to obtain it.
    2. Motherhood is not removed from a woman when she attempts to exercise control/dominion/compulsion
    3. Motherhood, unlike priesthood, does not tend to set a woman up in a position of authority

    I would say fatherhood=motherhood and priesthood=priestesshood. In the temple, we are called “kings & queens, priests & priestesses.” Try putting “priestesshood” in D&C 121 above. It works much better.

    And as we have different roles as fathers and mothers, we probably have different roles in priesthood/priestesshood. I just feel that, as women in the Church, we have been intimidated into not searching out what our priestess roles are. I do long to discover my priestess role, and I don’t think it includes baptizing, passing the sacrament type ordinances. But I suspect that healing blessings might come under priestesshood (women anointing each other for childbirth in the early days of the church REALLY appeals to me).

    I think as women we have many leadership roles in the Church in which we use the power and authority of God. Too bad that is not acknowledged as using our “priestesshood.” Also the support we are to our husbands tastes to me of priestesshood.

    I have often pondered what the distinction is between a woman who “shares in the priesthood with her husband” (as we are told we do) and just a woman of faith, who hasn’t been endowed, but can nonetheless pray and call down the powers of heaven.

    I really do believe that women can search out these things without being any threat to the traditional male holders of the priesthood. We absolutely must respect their priesthood, and I would ask that they respect and appreciate our “priestesshood” as well

    Happy Father’s Day!

  12. Kiskilili
    June 18, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    I think that the fact we continually seek an adequate female counterweight to priesthood is already telling and leads us to approach discussions on the priesthood in a way that is wrongheaded. If we’re tacitly asking the question, “Why don’t women hold the priesthood?” the answer “because they’re mothers” is no more appropriate than “because they wear shoes.” Our fixation on equality leads us to tweak both our definition of motherhood and our definition of priesthood.

    As a result of this unstated agenda of demonstrating equality, we don’t undertake a genuine analytical comparison between priesthood and motherhood. What are their similarities? What are their differences? If they are so similar, why couldn’t one person hold both? And what do the similarities indicate about them, if anything?

    I think all discussion of the topic should start with an open acknowledgment that men are entrusted with a religious authority that women are not, rather than attempting to mask this fact. Then we’re in a position to honestly compare in contrast, the same way we might fruitfully compare and contrast mothers and international relief workers.

  13. Rosalynde Welch
    June 18, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    Nicely put, K. I’m not sure if you were around T&S last year when Julie and I worked on a few of those questions in a post. If not, and you’d like to take a look, here it is.

  14. Sarah
    June 18, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Doesn’t anyone else think that Heavenly Father will say “Amen” to the motherhood of an unrighteous mother after the resurrection? I mean, it makes sense… mothers who “undertake to cover their sins, or to gratify their pride, their vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness,” would be unfit to be mothers in the millenium. The difference is that motherhood is largely unregulated by ecclesiastical authorities, whereas true priesthood is conferred and largely regulated by LDS eccelsiastical authorities, on this earth. In the end it’s Heavenly Father who decides whether the priesthood of a man or motherhood of a woman was exercised righteously.

    As far as priesthood = motherhood, I’m not convinced it’s a valid equation. But I think that replacing “priesthood” with “motherhood” in that verse results in a valid formula.

    And plenty of people (not a stastically significant percentage, perhaps, but a large enough actual number) “undertake to cover their sins, or to gratify their pride, their vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness,” while exercising their priesthood and don’t get caught out or removed from a Church office in this lifetime. That doesn’t mean the verse doesn’t apply — it just means the institutional Church is a part of a fallen world, led by fallible men and women. Which we knew already.

  15. Doc
    June 18, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    All I would ask of anyone here, have they never known any priesthood holder ever to do something unworthy of their calling. It is simply does not reverse the analogy to state the righteous and the unrighteous can receive motherhood. The difference is its existence outside the Church. That motherhood may be conferred upon one it is true, but if a mother undertakes to gratify her pride, exercise unrighteous dominion, etc. etc, she will not retain that office in the next life, period.
    While there will be many, many people in this world who view authority and power from the point of view of mankind, and cannot see any equivalence with motherhood, their picture of priesthood authority is distorted. Indeed, ” NO power or authority can….. be maintained by virtue of the priesthood,. The priesthood is about service. Its intent is to lift others, to work for the salvation of others, in otherwords to SERVE others. If you do not hold to this basic meaning of the scripture, you will of course deny any equivalence. Anyone who does not understand this does not understand the church, whether they hold the priesthood or are an outside observer.

    “Leadership” least of all differentiates the two. In fact, it only makes them more similar. Indeed as William Ross Wallace aptly noted over 100 years ago, the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. Within the home she absolutely is in a position of authority, and in fact is the primary leader shaping the leaders of tomorrow, male or female. In fact, I feel that the priesthood was given to men by default because they are SO vulnerable to degenerating into disengaged, dronelike state without it. Like a society of insects all productive members, workers, leaders, etc. are all female. It is the natural order when this situation is set up.

    In answer to the analogy
    Motherhood:Priesthood = Fatherhood : Motherhood – gifts of the spirit(Charity(the foremost), joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) and divine investiture of authority.

    This isn’t perfect as even outside the church I think there is probably some divine sanction of authority for fatherhood, although one would not know it watching television or loking at the world in general today. Long gone are the days of “Father knows best.”

  16. Adam Greenwood
    June 18, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    Just so, Sarah.

  17. Bored in Vernal
    June 19, 2006 at 12:40 am

    OK, Motherhood may equate to Priesthood in some ways, in the same ways that Fatherhood equates to Priesthood. But don’t ignore Priestesshood…
    A grand doctrine of Mormonism is that women are to become Priestesses. And how can we become if we don’t strive to figure out what that means to us??? Can’t we develop those qualities here and learn to use this authority here, rather than…passively…waiting….

  18. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    June 19, 2006 at 2:15 am

    Can’t we develop those qualities here and learn to use this authority here, rather than…passively…waiting….

    Yup, by fulfilling the roles we have here (as son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother). The qualities we need to develop are best developed in our families as we seek to live the gospel to the best of our abilities. We don’t need to know all the ins and outs of what our eternal roles will mean to be able to prepare for them. There is nothing passive about fulfilling the measure of our creation in mortality to then be able to fulfill our eternal destiny in the next life.

  19. Patrick Mason
    June 19, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Methinks Bored in Vernal is definitely on the right track. The thing that is (quite surprisingly) rarely mentioned in these kinds of discussions is the fact that women already hold priesthood in the Church–at least endowed women do. And those women very often are not married (and thus don’t hold their priesthood in conjunction with husbands) or are not married (and thus do not hold it in connection with motherhood); of course, there are all kinds of promises to those women that will be fulfilled in the next life, but they hold and exercise priesthood here and now.

    We need to be more nuanced in the way we speak of priesthood. The administrative offices of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood are only given to men (at least as it is revealed at this time), and those are the offices used in directing the general work of the church. However, women hold and exercise priesthood on a daily basis in temples around the world, performing priesthood ordinances of exaltation for the living and the dead. Thus, priesthood:priestesshood, and motherhood:fatherhood.

    I really like Adam’s comment about priesthood ultimately being about fatherhood (and I would extend it by saying priestesshood is ultimately about motherhood). I suspect there is more there than we can possibly imagine without catching glimpses beyond the veil.

  20. Patrick Mason
    June 19, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Meant to say “or are not mothers” in first paragraph of above post.

  21. Rosalynde Welch
    June 19, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Okay, then, let’s try this exercise:

    “Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our [sisters] who are worthy may receive [motherhood], and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom [motherhood] has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful [sisters], spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

    “He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy [woman] in the Church may receive holy [motherhood], with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with [her] loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy [female] members of the Church may be ordained to [motherhood] without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to [motherhood] to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.”

    This is absurd, of course, because motherhood is fundamentally unlike priesthood in nearly every formal particular: it is not something that is conferred, it is not something that can be granted or withheld on the basis of worthiness or any other social status, it entails no formal authority. In contrast, priesthood has always been something that has been exclusive by definition, formally allocated on the basis of a number of social status markers, conditional upon worthiness, entailing a very regimented and specific set of formal authorities. The substitutionary logic simply. does. not. work.

  22. Adam Greenwood
    June 19, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    RW,

    You keep thinking of priesthood and motherhood as a temporal institution solely. On those grounds, the sorts of comparisons made here do not obtain. But I would like to see your response to the argument that in eternity priesthood and fatherhood will collapse into one (no man a father who is not a priest) and worthiness/divine authority and motherhood will also collapse into one (no woman a mother who is not endowed, etc.). Also, does it change your view at all if you consider that this collapse into the eternities might be retroactive, those who were only provisionally mothers and fathers having their office taken from them and given to another? It’s aweful to think about, but I’m pretty sure its true.

  23. manaen
    June 19, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    BTW, we can paraphrase D&C 121 like you did for motherhood to show the uselessness of trying to misuse any of God’s blessings to set ourselves above others:

    Let X = money, fame, earthly authority, parenthood, talent, intelligence, achievement, or anything else upon which we base our pride.

    34. Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
    35. Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
    36. That the rights of X are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
    37. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the value of X [to] that [person].
    38. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
    39. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all [people], as soon as they get a littleX, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
    40. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
    41. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of X, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    42. By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
    43. Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

  24. Bored in Vernal
    June 19, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    It’s not that I don’t love my children–I have 8 of them–but one of the reasons I really don’t _want_ priesthood to equate to motherhood is that I prefer to think of myself in eternity as something other than an endless baby machine. I know that priesthood is basically service, yet there are other aspects to priesthood, including developing individual qualities of spirituality, leadership, etc. I would like to explore priestesshood as it relates to the eternal relationship between _myself_ and Deity, not just as an adjunct to a man or to children.
    Selfish? Perhaps…

  25. Doc
    June 19, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    BiV,
    A thought just struck me. When put in that way perhaps the difference would more properly expressed priesthood:Divine nature of womanhood as Fatherhood:Motherhood. Certainly a woman is every bit as entitled to spiritual growth, leadership, eternal progression, etc. as any male member. Of course the formal ceremony at age 12 is lacking, and maybe there would be some merit to making it more formal to celebrate our women as they reach certain milestones in their life. The endowment is certainly one, but there could be others. Many cultures have celebrations for menarche, although I am not sure how well that would go over in the United States and it probably just adds to your baby machine concern. The more I learn about the early relief society and leaders like Eliza R. Snow, it seems to me they had a very holistic view of womanhood, personal growth and contribution to society that should be made by women. They focused on adding to art and culture in society and community service as well as motherhood. I hope we are moving toward this type of mindset the sake of my two beautiful little girls. In my experience growing up with five sisters and no brothers, women too often fall short of recognizing their fantastic worth and importance. I agree we need to do all we can to help this along.

  26. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    June 19, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    I know that priesthood is basically service

    Isn’t that what motherhood is as well?

  27. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    June 19, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    developing individual qualities of spirituality, leadership, etc

    I think motherhood can do this as well, as can our opportunities for service as sisters in the Church. Our individual relationship with God can be and is developed as we fulfill our divine roles as given to us by God.

  28. Bored in Vernal
    June 19, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Doc, I like that better than anything else so far. Although don’t you think there is a divine nature aspect to manhood that would be the complement of divine nature of womanhood? Why are we so uncomfortable in the modern day Church with priestesshood?? I think the early mothers of the Church were very attuned to their priestesshood, especially Eliza. They used it in many ways in the Relief Society, spiritual gifts, administering to their sisters, as well as in their motherhood roles. I would like to get back to this.

    I daresay many will disagree, but I don’t see a lot of real leadership opportunity in Church callings for women. Having been in Relief Society leadership, my experience was one of much tiptoeing around trying not to tread on the toes of priesthood leadership. Our Book Club was discontinued by priesthood leaders, we were not allowed to hold a scripture study group under the auspices of the Relief Society, and virtually every activity we initiated was subject to priesthood approval. A beautiful evening we had planned around a Temple theme was not approved due to a script with references to the symbolic nature of the Salt Lake Temple edifice. (although it came verbatim from the Ensign) I don’t know that you can really call it leadership when everything is subject to approval by your “leaders.”

    I wonder if the early sisters were able to exert such “priestesshood” because many men were away serving missions, serving on the Mormon Battallion, Zion’s Camp, etc.? Or were they more trusted?

    I agree with post # 19 that endowed women do hold priestesshood power here and now. My personal views are not that women be ordained to the priesthood, but that the priestesshood that we do have be recognized. Wouldn’t it be great to be trained in Relief Society to call down the powers of heaven in our behalf, and in behalf of our families and sisters?

    Now, to share with you a Vernal moment. Last Sunday our RS lesson was Wilford Woodruff #14, because our teacher got mixed up on her lesson and skipped ahead. The slip of paper I was handed read (and this is the honest truth) “What do you learn from the story of the healing of Elijah Fordham and others? (see pp 142-45) How can this account help Melchizedek Priesthood holders when they prepare to administer to the sick?”

    Why are we discussing how the story relates to Melchizedek Priesthood holders in our precious RS time? Can we not relate this to how to use our womanly gifts, instead? Or better yet, give us some stories of women blessing, healing, lifting others.

    This is what happens when we try to equate Priesthood to Motherhood: both are diluted.

  29. cchrissyy
    June 19, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    BiV
    “This is what happens when we try to equate Priesthood to Motherhood: both are diluted.”
    completely agree. I just can’t undernstand the assertion that preisthood paralells motherhood. wouldnt’ any dictionary tell us that parenthood’s famle and female counterparts are fatherhood and motherhood, and that priestly status has male and female counterparts of preisthood and preistesshood?

    It is so illogical to me that motherhood and piresthood should be analogous that I wonder why anybody ever made the stretch- and the answer, to me, must be that they were tyring to answer the uncomfortable question “If only men can be preists, but people are equal, well, what do women get?” well, I’d rather be discussing and dismanteling that question directly than adressing the weak “motherhood!” answer.

  30. Kiskilili
    June 19, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    Even if we believe that motherhood and priesthood share similar attributes when we take a telescopic, eternal perspective, I think we have to ask *why* we see these apparent similarites. As I understand it, we believe they are both a part of our eternal progression. Okay. But that leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and a lot of room to discuss other dissimilarities.

    And I’m not sure I understand our vision of the next life. If women on the other side have equal authority to men, why has God withheld that authority here? That is, if the Church is meant to model the kingdom of heaven, why has God deliberately made it different? If, on the other hand, there’s some sort of religious authority that’s exclusively eternally male, then we have to ask why that’s the case. Either way, I fail to see how motherhood is directly involved.

  31. Kiskilili
    June 19, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    #24: “I know that priesthood is basically service”

    #26: “Isn’t that what motherhood is as well?”

    Isn’t that what international relief work is as well? Which is why I see motherhood and international relief efforts as essentially equivalent (especially when we take an eternal perspective–both ideally help people develop righteous qualities).

    Still, if the Peace Corps insisted only curly-haired people apply, I would wonder why.

  32. Bored in Vernal
    June 19, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    heehee

  33. Doc
    June 19, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    Kiskilili,
    I’ll say it again. â€? NO power or AUTHORITY can….. be maintained by virtue of the priesthood,.” You misstate the basic reason for the priesthood. It is all about service as I detailed ealier, not authority. Most definitely it is not authority as the world understands it. That is why this scripture is so central to understanding the priesthood. The authority part flows from righteousness as detailed by the rest of section 121. I will not argue that there are a great number of we priesthood holders who may not completely understand this principle yet, but God does. When whe understand what this scripture is really saying we begin to understand the gospel as a model for the next life.

  34. June 19, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Doc, that is fine until you remember that a blessing, for example, isn’t done right unless the speaker states that it is done “by the AUTHORITY of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” Ask any member of the church what the priesthood is and they will say “It is the authority to act in God’s name.” I promise that few if any people would say “The priesthood is an opportunity to serve.” Either we have a grand scale misunderstanding that our leaders have missed, or authority is an important part of the Preisthood.

  35. Kiskilili
    June 19, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Doc,
    I’m afraid I’m still confused about our model for the next life. Obviously we can’t claim that all service qualifies as priesthood (otherwise not only various women, but international relief workers hold the priesthood!). So, we’ll accept for the sake of argument that the priesthood refers to certain very specific types of service that can only be performed by men.

    My questions are these:

    Are there certain acts of service that only men can perform in the next life as well?

    Why does the Church limit the number of people who can perform acts of service to worthy males 12 and up? If it’s about nothing more than service, why is it not the case that everyone who has the desire to serve is called to the work?

  36. Doc
    June 19, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    Starfoxy-
    The key to understanding the word Authority in terms of the priesthood is the last two verses.
    ” 45-…then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
    46-The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion and thy scepter and unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth, thy dominion an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”

    In otherwords, The authority comes as we become more godlike ourselves and remove any impulse to gratify our pride, cover our sins or exercise unrighteous dominion. It comes by principle of righteousness. I also made the argument earlier, that I believe that womanhood has so much intuitive understanding of these principles naturally. I believe it to me a part of their nature and no, men do not have it in anywhere near the same degree, not naturally anyway. I really do believe that without the priesthood to tame us, engage us, bring us to Christ through principles of righteousness, we would quickly devolve. I used the hive example earlier. The queen, the workers, all the division of labor is done by females. The family as the unit of society is dominated by females because by their nature they get it. The males become drones, useless for anything but to give seed and then go off to their own devices. They don’t make any sacrifice, they don’t give, they don’t contribute.
    The priesthood as I see it is meant to counterbalance the divine nature of women so that we can grow as equals, and in fact grow to perfection together.

    Kiskilili,
    It’s about service the Lords way. He that is greatest among you shall be your servant, Christ through the atonement lifts and enables us to a greater potential which then gives us a chance to lift and support the growth of others who in turn have the opportunity to lift and serve yet others. I find your definition of service limiting, and I never said it was all service. The Lord’s work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life of man, however. So our power flows from having unity with this purpose.
    question #1- In the next life, neither is the man without the woman or the woman without the man in the Lord. Perfection and fullness of the priesthood can only be gained together and the temple is the key to this. As we are to be united the next life, there are not acts of service only men can perform in the next life that I am aware of anyway. This supports my idea that the priesthood thing in this life is a counterbalance to overcome the Y chromosome handicap.

    Question #2- goes to the counter balance thing again, the limited acts of service the Aaronic priesthood performs are necessary to overcome the handicap.

    Question #3 everyone who has desire to serve is called to the work. I would never claim otherwise.

  37. Rosalynde Welch
    June 19, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    Doc (#33): “You misstate the basic reason for the priesthood. It is all about service as I detailed ealier, not authority. Most definitely it is not authority as the world understands it.”

    Doc, this is an appealing vision of the priesthood for a number of reasons, and it may be an accurate account of the way priesthood is conceptualized in some of the lower church denominations and in the mainline Protestants that have soft-pedaled authority. But it completely erases everything that is unique to Joseph’s restoration, of which the establishment of a priesthood hierarchy and the theorization of the priesthood keys that it channels was a central—if not the supreme—accomplishment. You know those photo charts in the Ensign with the First Presidency at the top, the Twelve next, and the various quorums scrolling out below? I love those charts, as they’re the visualization of some of the most stirring scripture in the D&C and some of the most central doctrinal and cultural truths of Mormonism. Take for instance D&C 107:

    “The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—

    19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries• of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens• opened unto them, to commune with the ceneral• assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

    20 The power• and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys• of the ministering of angels, and to administer• in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.”

    And so on. I would submit that to reduce priesthood to pastoral service, effacing the hierarchical and authoritative aspects of priesthood that were among Joseph’s greatest and final achievements, is to fundamentally misunderstand Mormonism.

  38. Kaimi Wenger
    June 19, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Good comments so far – lots of interesting thoughts.

    Lots of interesting ideas on priestesshood. I think that may be the most promising candidate.

    Julie,

    It’s pretty funny that you wrote it out before, this way. I guess great minds think alike. :P

    Adam,

    “Father = priesthood” is appealing, but I don’t know that I buy it. For such a long time, priesthood has been tightly circumscribed. Also, it raises questions about people who are not fathers in this life.

    Kiskilili (8),

    Your taking on the issue is one good reason to post it. :P So let’s see:

    Good questions. Can one be a good mother outside of the church? I suppose it may depend on one’s views about the church as an exclusive path to salvation. An argument can be made that a mother’s role _is_ to teach her children about the church — in which case, a non-member mother is not properly exercising her motherhood. I don’t think I believe that, myself, but I think that’s the counter-argument.

    BV (11),

    More doubting the analogy. Well, maybe it doesn’t work. (If not, maybe it shows how strained the motherhood-priesthood pairing is). In any case, I like the vision of priestesshood you suggest.

    Kiskilili (12),

    “The answer “because they’re mothersâ€? is no more appropriate than ‘because they wear shoes.'” Well said. “Open acknowledgment that men are entrusted with a religious authority that women are not, rather than attempting to mask this fact.” I agree — I think that’s a more useful starting point.

    Sarah (14),

    And there’s the counter argument. Maybe motherhood _is_ dependent on righteousness. It’s not inconceivable. (Though I think it may require a rethinking of what motherhood means).

    M&M (18),

    We probably disagree on a few things, but I won’t argue with the concept that both priesthood and motherhood should be developed to the degree possible in this life.

    Patrick (19),

    Nice focus on the bifurcated nature of priesthood. Of course, it raises questions as well. Is motherhood equally bifurcated? When we hear church leaders pair the two concepts, are _they_ cognizant of the bifurcated nature? Or is there a sense that the two are supposed to be wholly analogous?

    Rosalynde (21),

    That’s a very nice formulation of the “NO” position. Your list of differences. is. rather. convincing.

    Adam (22),

    And there’s the other shoe, also well formulated.

  39. Doc
    June 19, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    RW,
    I don’t necessarily disagree with you. Check out response 36 for further elaboration.

  40. Rosalynde Welch
    June 19, 2006 at 11:51 pm

    Adam (#22): “But I would like to see your response to the argument that in eternity priesthood and fatherhood will collapse into one (no man a father who is not a priest) and worthiness/divine authority and motherhood will also collapse into one (no woman a mother who is not endowed, etc.). Also, does it change your view at all if you consider that this collapse into the eternities might be retroactive, those who were only provisionally mothers and fathers having their office taken from them and given to another?”

    I’ve been thinking about this today, Adam, and I don’t quite understand the argument. In the eternities parenthood may be made conditional upon worthiness, but how will that combine the two distinct relationships—between man/offspring and between man/God? And then—forgive me, my head is permanently fogged—how does that retroactively explain/justify the situation now?

    As for “amen to the fatherhood of [the unworthy] man” in the hereafter, I don’t know much about the doctrinal basis for the notion, but it does seem of a piece with other early Mormon thought about marriage and offspring and glory. And if FLDS communities have literalized those strands of thought in practice, this reportsuggests that you’re right. It seems, though, that it’s only fatherhood that’s conditional upon worthiness; “the children follow the mother,” as if the mother’s bond to the children is unconditional, qualitatively different from the father’s. I don’t know. Crazy stuff.

  41. Seth R.
    June 20, 2006 at 12:16 am

    I just finished reading “Lecture First” in Joseph Smith’s “Lectures on Faith.”

    In it, he describes “Faith” as the principle of all action and the first principle of all power. Here, he gives faith no moral overtones (that comes later in the lectures), Lenin exercised faith in formenting the Communist Revolution in Russia, Hitler exercised faith in invading Poland and his soldiers exercised faith in carrying out their orders. Nothing is ever accomplished except we exercise faith that it shall be so. Faith is simply the motivating power by which all things are accomplished, both by God and men.

    I would add: “by women” of course, though Joseph did not phrase it so.

    “Faith” is the true first power on earth and Heaven, not “Priesthood.” By Faith our pioneer mothers healed the sick and nurtured a generation in righteousness.

    So, if we are to take Joseph at his word in the Lectures, the real power on earth and heaven is already available to all humankind, regardless of race, gender, or even motive. I think the implication of the lectures (never explicitly stated), is that faith grants power to even the misguided as well as the enlightened. Lenin can therefore inspire the same loyalty, the same awe, and work the same revolutions as a Moses (though, of course, he cannot bind God and the heavens).

    Women in our Church, therefore, have full access to the First Principle of Power in all existence. Inasmuch as their Faith is correctly grounded in God, they may bind the heavens as well.

    Thus it seems that women have already been granted access to the “big guns” in our theology.

    What then is “Priesthood” for? Why have it if a man or a woman can stop the mouths of lions, alter the hearts of men, destroy all fear of the sword, and turn back death without ever being ordained?

    Perhaps we look at Priesthood incorrectly when we say that it “is power.” Certainly, the Priesthood is not unlimited power, unrestricted. Neither is Priesthood, according to Joseph Smith, the essential definition of power on earth and in heaven. That belongs to Faith, which belongs to all. The Priesthood, by contrast belongs to only a few, and not directly to women.

    This is pure speculation on my part, but I think that Priesthood is defined FAR MORE by the LIMITATIONS it imposes, than the authority that it grants. Perhaps the primary purpose of the Priesthood is indeed a restraint on the amoral exercise of Faith, and not a method of granting power.

    Remember that under Mormon theology, God claims, nor can He claim, any power over that which is most fundametal to our beings: our “intelligence” or, if I may, our basic self-identity. We access the same principles of power that He does. And many have misused that power. Many have also done that power credit, and all without the Priesthood. Then the Priesthood is given to men and guidelines are provided, hierarchies imposes, protocals must be observed to invoke the power of the heavens.

    Could it be that the Priesthood is primarily meant to RESTRAIN, not empower?

    Is it not meant to align the will of man with the will of God, rather than leave him free to plunder, oppress, and domineer?

    Is Priesthood, a badge of our fallen state before God?

    More interestingly, as women increasingly take on the traditional male roles of oppressing the weak, domineering the nations, and spreading enmity and fear, will they too require the RESTRAINT of the Priesthood on the scope of their Faith-to-Power?

    Interesting.

    But of course this is all problematic. Firstly, the Lectures on Faith are not cannonized, so I’m not sure where to place them in a definitive discussion of Mormon theology. Secondly, this view of Priesthood runs contrary to the general tone that tends to accompany discussions of Priesthood callings. I have never heard anyone bluntly declare that Priesthood is a restraint on power that men already had. Although discussions of excercise of Priesthood do tend to take a rather grim tone. More often than not, discussion of Priesthood invariably involves reminders of obligations and exhortations not to abuse the priviledge.

    Where faith can be exercised in error and unrighteousness, the Priesthood cannot be used to “cover our sins,” “gratify our pride,” or exercise compulsion on others. Limited power indeed!

    Although it comes with the inestimable benefit of “binding the heavens,” the heavens have been invoked without the presence of Priesthood calling in the past.

    Well … beats me. What do you think?

  42. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    June 20, 2006 at 12:45 am

    That is, if the Church is meant to model the kingdom of heaven, why has God deliberately made it different?

    I don’t think the Church is meant to model the kingdom of heaven. The family will be the organizing unit in the next life, not the Church. The Church is simply a vehicle with the goal to get us to exaltation. Read Elder Oaks’ talk on priesthood authority in the family and the Church. I think that talk gives a lot of insight about how the way the priesthood functions in the home is different than how it functions in the Church, and that is, I think, what should be focused on as we try to understand how things might work in the eternities. Read what he says about partnership, about his mother presiding after his father died, and so forth.

  43. Mark Butler
    June 20, 2006 at 2:25 am

    Joseph Smith didn’t write Lectures on Faith, rather they appears to have been written by a committee. He must have approved it though. And it is good thing that they are no longer canonized, because they contain some very serious theological errors – errors that are indications of their composite authorship and lack of attention by Joseph Smith – in short he never intended them to be scripture, more like a Sunday School manual.

    The very first error is the metaphysically naive identification of faith as a principle of divine power. Framing the worlds through wishful thinking is not the sort of thing that a rational theology is made of. Faith as a principle of action is right on, but as an unmediated principle of power it is ridiculous. D&C 29 and 121 have a much to be preferred account of divine power that faith as a principle of action fits into quite nicely. And indeed now it is commonplace for LDS commentators to never talk about faith without qualifying it as *faith in the Lord Jesus Christ*.

    Lecture 3 is a classic, but there are several other theological problems betraying the unreflected Protestant heritage of some of the authors. The D&C is *much* more accurate.

  44. Mark Butler
    June 20, 2006 at 2:43 am

    I submit that Priesthood is all about authority – indeed it is the one true system of authority. All other systems of authority, including civil government, are imitations of the priesthood. No authority and the priesthood evaporates.

    Priesthood power and authority are intimately connected so much that it is impossible to talk about one without the other. All priesthood power is derived from authority whether formal authority (office) or informal authority (honor). The former is a systematization of the latter.

    D&C 121:46 says that priesthood authority is ultimately contingent on honor. However we are talking about the *whole* system here. i.e. honor can flow upward in one domain, sustaining divine power and authority *in righteousness* over people who do not honor God at all. Otherwise God would have no power over the wicked.

    As Brigham Young once said, the whole Church could apostasize making him no longer the President of the Church, but that would not necessarily mean that he was no longer a Prophet of the living God.

    Now while the endowment confers great spiritual gifts, it contains only a forordination, not an actual ordination. There is no office there. So both men and women may receive all sorts of amazing spiritual blessings through fidelity to the covenant – no *authority* is conferred – spiritual power of a sort, but no authority.

    Whereas in the priesthood a conferral that is not immediately followed by ordination to an office is considered defective. Now as I have said elsewhere, motherhood, fatherhood, teacherhood, other callings all entail some form of authority. That is what parenthood is – it is often a contingent form of authority – in otherwords it is only effective when handled properly. Abuse it and it evaporates, both in terms of honor from the presided over and in terms of honor in heaven. Authority is all about honor – indeed it is a formalization of honor.

    Arguably there is no authority ever without honor, and furthermore very little or no power without authority. The big difference between motherhood and fatherhood and priesthood is that the latter is a system of authority rooted in God, where since the demise of the patriarchs few think of parenthood that way any more.

  45. Mark Butler
    June 20, 2006 at 2:44 am

    That is a declaratory summary of my belief. Standard disclaimers apply.

  46. Kiskilili
    June 20, 2006 at 11:36 am

    I think Elder Oaks’s talk gives a lot of insight into how an institution, in order to maintain implicit claims to transcendence, attempts to decree changes in the meanings of words as a way of asserting continuity in belief through time, rather than simply abandoning a term (“preside”) whose denotation causes discomfort in the current climate. If preside means something different in the home than it does in the Church, why not just use a different term entirely? The reason, I think, is that then we might have to openly acknowledge a shift in our beliefs (what would we do with the FamProc?), and we as a Church have difficulty processing change. If we can manage to cling to terms while willfully change their usages, we just might hide the changing nature of our beliefs from ourselves.

    When we talk about priesthood and women in the same breath, we’re suddenly reluctant to use words such as “power” and “authority” that are otherwise apt descriptions, lest a disparity in power and authority be observed. But I think this is exactly the type of diluting of our concept of priesthood that Bored in Vernal warned against. Obviously priesthood is power–we refer to the power of the priesthood all the time. Of course, it’s a good power that, in ideal circumstances, would only be put to good use. In the immortal words of the Care Bears, “it’s the power to care, it’s the power to share,” but “it’s a power no one can deny.” (Okay, ignore that last sentence if you like. :))

    And let’s not forget that priesthood, in addition to being God’s power, confers a status which is a prerequisite to occupying a number of leadership positions in the Church. Let’s not sell the priesthood short in an effort to make women feel better for not holding it.

    The priesthood is an opportunity to serve God and others. Women also have opportunities to serve God and others. I understand both of these statements. But I think it’s a mistake to take them as an explanation for women’s not holding the priesthood. If anything, doesn’t it make it seem more logical that women would hold the priesthood?

  47. S
    June 20, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    Doc (#36), by this argument (i.e. women have a more intuitive understanding of God’s ways), Christ wouldn’t have needed the Priesthood. I think that most people would agree that He is probably the person who has had the greatest/most intuitive understanding of God’s ways, and yet, we have a Priesthood after His Order?

    While this may be an extreme example, I don’t think it helps to make broad generalizations about the spirituality of men and women. There are so many differences on an individual level–many women are more spiritual than many men, but many men are more spiritual and have a more intuitive understanding of the Lord’s ways than many women.

    m&m (#42), I think Kiskililli has some great thoughts on Oaks talk. I would add the following: another linguistic manipulation I see in this talk is the divide that Oaks makes between the terms “hierarchical” and “patriarchal.” While I agree that these terms have different definitions, I have a hard time imagining a patriarchy that is not on some level hierarchical. If you look up dictionary definitions of patriarchy, you will find definitions like the following (these are from dictionary.com):

    1. A social system in which the father is the head of the family and men have authority over women and children.
    2. A family, community, or society based on this system or governed by men.

    The terms “authority,” “head,” and “governed” (at least to me) imply a sense of hierarchy (it goes back to what Kiskilli is saying about the problem with the word “preside”). I don’t think that Elder Oaks’ talk escapes the problems we run into when talking about Priesthood and authority.

  48. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    June 20, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    I have a hard time imagining a patriarchy that is not on some level hierarchical.

    I understand why you are saying this, but I don’t think that patriarchy as it should be in the Church can be captured by Webster. If the father is truly exercising his priesthood correctly, then he will be working in concert with his wife, and the “patriarchy” will be all but transparent. I don’t feel any practical sense of heirarchy in my family. My husband and I work together. I understand that the words we use may leave us wondering, but that may be less a problem of practical (ideal) reality and more a problem of semantics.

    If anything, doesn’t it make it seem more logical that women would hold the priesthood?

    Not to me. There is so much of serving and such done by both men and women that happen under the umbrella of the priesthood, not as a result of holding the priesthood. Holding priesthood is not a prerequisite for serving, building the kingdom, having spiritual gifts, raising a family….

    As for priestesshood, I think Mark Butler said well what I was thinking. The receiving of priesthood for men is a separate thing from the endowment. Women do not “hold” priesthood, for we are not ordained. We have the potential for exaltation and eternal lives, the potential to become priests and priestesses and kings and queens — which are descriptive words for what God (They) are. The teeny sliver of priesthood that is granted to men in this life can’t even begin to capture what priesthood really is and will be, IMO.

    (That is a summary of my belief. Standard disclaimers apply.) :)

  49. Seth R.
    June 20, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    Mark,

    I think to categorize Joseph’s description of Faith as wishful thinking is to really miss the boat on not only what he was saying in the Lecture, but also everything we are taught about Faith in the Church. I thought his scriptural appeals were not as rigorous as they should have been. But I don’t see anything wrong with the idea of Faith as a primary principle of power, except for the fact that you don’t seem to like it, and think that Faith is “wishful thinking.”

    But I hold to my assertion that Priesthood (for those of us who hold it) is more about limitations than license.

  50. Doc
    June 20, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    Seth,
    I think you are partially right. The difference is the limitations lead to righteousness that then lead to the authority and power of God. I think the priesthood is a model that shows us exactly how it is God receives his power, not by having it conferred, but by principles of righteousness.

  51. June 20, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Oh, Kiskilili, of course preside means both things at once. Just look at the word! pre-side : Pre (before) and Side (beside). So “men presiding over women” obviously means men are simultaneously before and beside women. No stretch there at all. [/sarcasm]

    And I also didn’t want to let the thread go on without telling Kaimi that the title of this post cracks me up every time I see it.

  52. s
    June 20, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    m&m, I agree that there’s going to be a disjunct between the church’s understanding of patriarchy and a dictionary definition. I would also agree that on a practical, lived level, many marriages are not hierarchical in the sense that (my parents marriage is very much an equal partnership). But I would argue that semantics do matter. How many marriages out there are not equal partnerships because the people in the marriage are understanding words such as “patriarchy” and “preside” using common, standard definitions? All church members are part of a culture that understands “patriarchy” using a definition that implies hierarchy, and no matter how many times we are told that marriages are supposed to be equal partnerships, those meanings are going seep into our consciousness. I guess I would prefer that we do away with these words altogether if we really want all marriages to be equal partnerships.

  53. Kiskilili
    June 21, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    Very clever, Starfoxy! ;)

    With S, I recognize that the Church’s use of a term will not always be reflected by Webster. At the same time, I become suspicious when 1) we claim we cannot define a term, even to ourselves, 2) our definition is vastly different from the accepted use of the term (close to its opposite), or 3) when we do define the term, our various definitions contradict each other. If we’re serious about equality, “patriarchy” has no place in our discourse. If we’re not serious about equality but rather celebrate patriarchy, let’s be honest about that fact. Either way, I’d like to see some coherence in Church rhetoric.

    When objections are raised to terms such as “patriarchy,” the response I frequently hear is that on a practical level, people aren’t living that way anyway. What difference does it make if the Church preaches patriarchy and its members live equality? In the first place, I submit that a significant portion of the Church membership takes its language at face value and lives the patriarchal order. In the second place, it would make sense for the Church to preach what it actually holds as the ideal, rather than claiming that “everyone knows what it really means is . . .” Everyone knows no such thing. Speaking in code (patriarchy is a special term for equality) verges dangerously close to dishonesty. And finally, how I live is an not an accurate index of what the language of the Church means.

  54. s
    June 21, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    Yes. What Kiskilili said.

  55. Adam Greenwood
    June 22, 2006 at 1:55 am

    “Adam,

    “Father = priesthoodâ€? is appealing, but I don’t know that I buy it. For such a long time, priesthood has been tightly circumscribed. Also, it raises questions about people who are not fathers in this life. ”

    My argument would be that ultimately fatherhood is circumscribed in the same way that priesthood is (in fact, ultimately, I think that it will be impossible to make distinctions between them. Saying that someone is a priest will mean saying that they are a father, and vice versa.

    I disagree that it raises questions about people who are not fathers in this life. Either they are worthy to be fathers, so the blessing denied them in this life will be given them in the next, or else they aren’t worthy and their priesthood will also be stripped from them.

    My bases for thinking that priesthood and fatherhood ultimately conflate are as follows:
    historically priesthood and fatherhood have been closely connected, priesthood in its oldest form looking pretty patriarchal; priesthood ordinances are tied to family relationships–baptism makes us born again with Christ as our father, sealings seal us, and so on, the work for the dead is meant to bind generations together, etc.; D&C 121 ends with the blessings that those who do not abuse their priesthood will have, and its pretty easy to read them as eternal increase; D&C 130 ties the higher orders of priesthood very closely to eternal increase; God, the source of all priesthood authority, is quintessentially the Father.

  56. Adam Greenwood
    June 22, 2006 at 2:08 am

    Rosalynde W.,

    Let me take another crack it. First, let me say that a big source of our misunderstandings is that you are thinking I’m trying to (1) justify the current differences in gender roles and (2) argue that the differences are illusory and that the genders are really equal because motherhood is the same as priesthood/fatherhood. But the truth is that I don’t think the differences in roles need any justification and I don’t really care if the genders are scrupulously equal or not. I’m interested in comparing motherhood, fatherhood, and so on just for the sake of the comparison and for no other reason.

    “In the eternities parenthood may be made conditional upon worthiness, but how will that combine the two distinct relationships—between man/offspring and between man/God?”

    Well, for fathers that’s pretty easy. If priesthood and fatherhood ultimately conflate, then it turns out that no man can have authority from God if he’s not willing to have offspring, and vice versa. Ultimately what the priesthood will authorize a man to do is to have a family and preside over it.

    The exact same solution for mothers is possible if we accept that the ability to enwomb and birth children, or whatever the eternal equivalent maybe, is also a divine power. True, it is a power that is universally bestowed in the temporal world, so that we seem to have a ‘motherhood of all believers.’ But I think thats a feature of this world alone. In the next world, being a mother will require divine authority, so the relationships between woman/offspring and woman/God will be combined.

    “As for “amen to the fatherhood of [the unworthy] manâ€? in the hereafter, I don’t know much about the doctrinal basis for the notion, but it does seem of a piece with other early Mormon thought about marriage and offspring and glory.”

    I agree. Where you and I differ is that I think in the eternities it will also be said “amen to the motherhood of the unworthy woman.” I can’t see any reason why that would not be the case. D&C 130 and our beliefs that unsealed familes are not eternal families strongly, strongly suggest that no family ties last if they aren’t sealed, including the ties between mother and children. We have lots of provisional mothers and provision fathers in this life, and lots of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the next.

  57. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    June 22, 2006 at 2:24 am

    guess I would prefer that we do away with these words altogether if we really want all marriages to be equal partnerships.

    Either way, it’s tricky. If you talk about it, people might misunderstand. But you get rid of the concept of patriarchy and that’s problematic as well because you ignore the fact that patriarchy is still the order of things. It’s just not the way the world defines it, and that is, I think, our challenge. No matter what we say and no matter how we say it, some people are going to misunderstand, misapply, miswhatever. It’s one of those tensions that I think we are supposed to work with and master with time, experience and sensitivity to the Spirit.

  58. Kiskilili
    June 22, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Yes, people do seem inevitably to misanderstand when we make statements that contradict each other. At some point I hope we choose between patriarchy and heterarchy in marriage. I just don’t see how we can claim both.

  59. Adam Greenwood
    June 26, 2006 at 12:09 am

    Data point:

    In Stake Conference today, Elder Oaks quoted the scripture ‘Be ye clean who bear the vessels of the LORD.’ He said that it applied to young men, who could carry the bread and water that were symbolically the vessels of Christ’s flesh and blood, and to women, who could carry children.

  60. Mark Butler
    June 26, 2006 at 1:10 am

    If “equal partnership” means “indistinguishable partnership” (e.g. androgyny) that is definitely not the doctrine of the Church. The whole purpose of the Proclamation on the Family is to make clear that there is a division of roles and responsibilities, that the father presides, but also to make clear that he has no basis to subject his family to his will on any arbitrary basis. His “presidency” is conditional on righteousness. Righteousness does not mean getting “your way” – Righteousness means promoting “God’s way”, and God’s way includes the law of common consent, counseling together until a unity of the faith is reached.

    The only place where it might appear (falsely) that a father has pre-eminence is when he is acting not on his own behalf, but on God’s behalf. That distinction is subtle and often missed. For example. President Hinckley’s personal opinion is not supposed to be any more important than your opinion or my opinion. He is there to receive God’s opinion, and the safeguard that is there to make sure he is correct is the rule of apostolic consensus. We have no binding Church doctrine unless all fifteen apostles agree on it unanimously. This rule was ignored in the days of Brigham Young, and look at the problems.

    So same deal in a family – the father receives sometimes revelation, but more generally speaking direction from his priesthood leaders – and it is his job to take that direction seriously. However, the way it is actually implemented in the home is not up to him. His opinion does not matter any more than his wife’s opinion. His duty is to follow his leaders in righteousness, not to impose his will on anyone.

    The same with any leader – arbitrariness is no basis for authority, principle is – councils must have a modicum of creativity, but a father is most definitely *not* a council unto himself. His authority exists only on the principles of righteousness, and again it is not *righteous* to “get ones way” – it is only righteous to promote God’s way. As far as personal idiosyncrasies the will of all council members is equivalent – anything else is an abuse of authority, essentially self-dealing.

    So whatever God had in mind with this funny asymmetry, “presidency” is nothing to fear – “presidency” is *not* authority in the Church, “councils” have authority, whenever presidents take authority unto themselves (executive privilege) and away from their councils that is an abuse of the priesthood. Same story from President Hinckley to Bishops, Stake Presidents, and in the most crucial sense, fathers. The lesson we really ought to be learning here is that Bishops and SPs ought to be acting alot more like “presiders” than “authorities”.

    Technically speaking, there are *no* general authorities in the Church. The only general authority in the whole universe is God. Likewise the only authority that a father has in the home, is that which comes from above, the slightest hint of self-dealing and his credibility as a representative of the divine evaporates. Not my will, but thine. The father is *not* an authority – he represents authority. Fathers and mothers working together are authorities, as are other councils in the church, within the domain of their discretion. But I dare say that *preside*ncy has nothing to do with *author*ity in righteousness.

    And finally, traditionally it is the rest of the world that takes its linguistic and semantic clues from ecclesiastical language, not the other way around. If the secular world has a corrupt vision of presidency or patriarchy that is their problem. We cant go around subverting divine intent because others want to play semantic games, the most sickly exercise of the post-modern mind.

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