I’ve recently been trying to figure out WHY men are ordained to offices in the priesthood and women are not. The explanation is at the foundations of the universe.
From The Family: A Proclamation to the World:
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
For whatever reason, my eternal identity and purpose is linked with creating a life, and my husband’s is linked with making a life eternal.
One blogger said that that is unfair; motherhood balances with fatherhood, not Priesthood, because what about women who are unmarried and/or childless? Men can be ordained to the Priesthood when they choose, but sometimes women can’t become mothers when they choose. This is a distinction that is only important in mortality. I know that in the eternities, all women who desire a husband and children will have a husband and children, if those women are faithful. We should be worrying less about “fairness” and more about faithfulness. (In addition, recall what Julie B Beck said about having a Mother Heart and about needing all hands on deck.)
This comment on my post explained this concept way better than I did.
So, does Priesthood balance with motherhood? Does it matter? Let’s see what Paul says.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith… to another the gifts of healing … To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ…there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
First of all, these gifts are all very different, and they are not the same “size,” using mortal measuring sticks. But “What he gets” and “What she gets” is not the right question. We’re all part of something bigger, and when someone is blessed we all are blessed. No pickle juice.
Some women feel bad that they have to tell their daughters, “You can’t do this because you’re a girl.” If you are white, American, and somewhat wealthy, “can’t” is a dirty word. And usually, for good reason. Girls can play football, mow the lawn, shovel snow, fix cars, follow sports, do math, love science, hate makeup. But for most of the population of the earth, there are lots of things they “can’t” do.
Boys can’t be mothers. They can’t be pregnant, can’t give birth, and can’t nurse a baby. They just weren’t built for it. But who created them that way? God. The same Being who ordained that men should hold the Priesthood. This was not a whimsical, sexist decision from aging Church leadership, it is eternal reality.
This is a good time to bring up the argument, “You really don’t want the Priesthood… you have to go to 7 AM Priesthood leadership meeting, you have to set up and take down chairs, they put you on the spot during blessings, you have to conduct meetings, you have to collect Fast Offerings when you’re hungry…” However, the complaints of Priesthood holders do not cancel out the joys of administering salvation. Just as the complaints of mothers do not cancel out the joys of creating life.
I know that I can do so much good without being ordained to the Priesthood.
When I had just had my baby, I decided I wanted to be a temple worker. So I had an interview with the bishop and he sent me to the temple president, who sent me home. They said that you can’t be a temple worker if you are a mom of children under 18. He asked me why I wanted to be a temple worker. I said I wanted the peace of the temple in my life, the opportunity to regularly reflect in the temple, and to learn the ordinances really well. He said I could do all of that as a patron.
When I would drive by the MTC, I would look in at all the cool buildings and see 18M and the covered walkways and all the flags and think about all the interesting things missionaries get to do and learn in the MTC. And I would wish that I had served a mission before I got married. And I would wish that I was old so I could go on a senior mission. The thing is, I am welcome to DO missionary work right now. But I don’t want to DO missionary work, I want to BE a missionary! I want the romance of opening a call, of being dropped off at the MTC, of studying really hard, of going by myself to a foreign country, of getting up early every day, of wearing the tag and being restricted by all kinds of interesting rules.
Even if I am not a temple worker or a set-apart missionary, I have all the gifts I need to bless lives. Do Priesthood holders do more good than I do? Using the mortal measuring stick of prominence, yes, the Prophet of the Church is more prominent than I am, and even more prominent than the General Relief Society President. Using the mortal measuring stick of power, yes, the Bishop presides over more and older people than the Primary President. Using the mortal measuring stick of equal time, more men speak in General Conference, men speak last (and for longer) in Sacrament Meeting. Is this important? To lots of mortals, yes it is.
The bishop is in charge of five or six hundred people, and I’m in charge of ten, or twenty, or thirty? Or maybe just one (me.) Does the Lord care how many people you help?
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God… And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
Jesus ministered to the one. Jesus ministered in private. I am perfectly welcome to write and deliver awesome talks, just like general authorities. I am perfectly welcome to talk and listen to people, just like the bishop. I am perfectly welcome to pray for people, even the entire church, just like the people who do in General Conference. I am perfectly welcome to teach those I come in contact with.
Does the Lord care how many people can see you serve?
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Does the Lord care if you serve men or women?
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
As a woman, I can receive all the blessings of the Priesthood. As a baby, I was blessed; as an eight year old, I was baptized and confirmed. I partake of the sacrament each week; I have been set apart for many callings and been given blessings to help me with each one; I have received blessings when I was sick or when I started school. When I went through the temple, I received all the blessings there and promises of more blessings. The next day, I received the blessing of being sealed to my husband. About a year and a half later, I had my baby girl blessed by the Priesthood, and my baby boy blessed another year and a half after that.
I was the one who got the blessings. ME. Or my family. Not the Priesthood holder who gave them to me.
Do I just want the privilege of giving something to other people?
I have plenty of opportunities for “giving…” As a mother, I have the “privilege” of giving so much of me to my children. I have the privilege of giving them a sippy cup, orange slices fully peeled, oatmeal sweetened to perfection, toys off the top shelf, a story, the baby doll, my attention, some snacks, the sippy cup again, a clean diaper, a bath, other toys, a sandwich, sliced carrots, a banana, different toys, more attention, the crayons, another coloring page, then finally some spaghetti, the sippy cup, a little bit of candy, more attention, stories, songs, prayers, and kisses. I have the opportunity of “freeing” them from the crib, the high chair, the tangled blankets, the bath. I have the opportunity of helping them learn to read, play with toys, play with each other, keep themselves safe and clean… There is no end.
A friend of mine taught me recently that some women really want to help make decisions for the church. The video I reference in this post says that women actually do help make decisions. Well, as far as any mortal makes decisions that affect the whole body of Christ’s church.
Do I want the glory of being a Priesthood holder? Being The One to administer salvation? Jesus Christ is The One. The scriptures are clear about taking glory for yourself.
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
It’s not like I do not participate in the ordinance, either. I do the important job preparing my children for each ordinance and teaching them HOW to live the gospel, which is just as important as receiving the ordinances. If people receive the ordinances but they do not fulfill their duties or keep the covenants, it is as if they never received them.
Do I want to be The One who Presides at prayer, scripture study, and family home evening? Isn’t there any value in being the one who gathers everyone to these activities, who teaches the importance of them, who provides refreshments, who keeps the peace?
Some women feel looked down on because all of their actions must be approved by men holding the Priesthood. Men’s actions must also be approved by their Priesthood leaders. Everyone called in the church is accountable to another mortal, except the prophet, who is accountable to God. Should the prophet be upset that God must approve his actions? No. We seek approval of actions from Priesthood leaders because the Priesthood is the authority of God to act in His name. If we do not seek confirmation through the Priesthood, then we have not done that thing in the name of Jesus Christ, which he commanded.
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son…
I love the Gifts of the Spirit chapters that are found in three places in the standard works.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand [authorized servant of God?], I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? [am I not important or respected?] And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye [the prophet on the watchtower?], I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him [“as it hath pleased Him” is kind of like “for mine own purpose, and it remaineth in me.” We might get the answer later, we might not.] And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee [overseer cannot say to the worker, I have no need of thee. In fact, there is nothing for the overseer to do if there are no workers.] nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Notice that these are always called “gifts.” They aren’t called jobs, or talents, or privileges, or rights, or choices. They are gifts from God. “Why should you be jealous that I choose to be kind?” We should be grateful that God has shared his authority with anyone on this earth, and stop quibbling about who He shared it with. Never forget that he also shared his power to create with women (and not in the same way to men). Men can experience the joy of administering in the Priesthood, and women can experience the joy of creating and giving birth to children. (I love to look at my two children, especially before they start solid food, and think, “I made that.” This source of pride and joy has been denied to men, by the way.)
A lesson is taught at the end of the section on the gifts of the Spirit. In the Book of Mormon and in the New Testament, the speaker transitions to the talk about charity with this statement:
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Indeed, you should covet the best gifts. But the best gift is not the Priesthood, although it is wonderful, and the best gift is not motherhood, although it is wonderful too. The best gift is charity.