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On Women and Priesthood

There has been a lot of talk recently about women’s issues in the church. I personally have spent much time in thought and prayer about these issues, trying to find where exactly I fall on the continuum.

It seems that every time women become vocal about an issue in the church (wear pants to church day and women praying in conference are recent examples), there is an automatic jump from some to, “You just want the priesthood.” For most women, I don’t think this is true.

That being said, some women do want the priesthood. In fact, there is a recent movement with that exact goal in mind.

I struggle.

When I pray about this, it just doesn’t feel right to me for women to be ordained. Is that the Spirit telling me that it truly is only for men? Is it simply my upbringing in a very traditional LDS family and the inability to see things differently? Am I afraid of having the priesthood and what that might entail? I really don’t know.

All I know is that when I look at the subject logically, I can’t really think of a reason why women shouldn’t have the priesthood. And yet my heart still tells me no.

So, I wanted to lay out some of the arguments briefly here for discussion, and my opinion on those arguments.

  • Argument #1: Women don’t need the priesthood because they have motherhood. I have got to be honest, this argument really bothers me. I don’t see the priesthood as the equivalent of motherhood. I see fatherhood as the equivalent of motherhood. What about all the girls from age 12 up who aren’t yet mothers? What about the women who never marry? What about those who never have children? What about those who have raised their children and no longer contribute to their children’s lives on a daily basis? This is a significant number of women in the church and a whole lot of people to disenfranchise. Is it okay that those individuals don’t have the blessing of having the priesthood OR motherhood? And how about a shout out to the great fathers in the church? If we say they need the priesthood to match our mad parenting skills, what is that taking away from them?
  • Argument #2: Men need the priesthood to be spiritual, but women are already spiritual by nature. This to me sounds like an excuse to be lazy in our spiritual lives – it’s innate for women to be spiritual and gifted to men via the priesthood? I don’t buy it. I would say there are some people who have an innate spirituality. There are others who aren’t so much spiritual by nature but it’s important to them so they work at it. There are others (both who have the priesthood and who don’t) who simply don’t really care about spirituality. Point being, I think this just varies so much by individual that I don’t buy it. Now, I do think that you could argue that priesthood responsibility does give some men an impetus to develop this part of their life more, just as being called as RS president may encourage a woman to fine tune. I also think this discredits men to a certain extent. Really, are they that sinful and base that they simply cannot develop a spiritual self without having the priesthood?
  • Argument #3: Boys need the priesthood to be trained how to be leaders. I can see some point to this, as I think serving in quorum leadership and having “duties” to carry out (Sacrament, home teaching, missionary service, etc.) does helps boys to learn to serve. However, I would also say that our girls also need leadership opportunities in order to learn how to be leaders, and our boys get far more opportunities than our girls do for that.
  • Argument #4: Women don’t need the priesthood because they benefit equally from the priesthood. To me, this could be true in a perfect world. However, the world is not perfect. Even as an active LDS women with a priesthood holder in my home for most of my life, there have been times where I have felt that the blessings of the priesthood were inaccessible to me, or at least hard to come by. This can happen in many circumstances, such as when you are single until you are well past the average age, or when your husband is out of town a lot, or when your marriage is struggling and you don’t feel like you can turn to your husband or anyone else really because you don’t want your business aired, or when you just struggle with something really personal and don’t feel like speaking about it with a man, or maybe when you are serving in leadership and don’t feel on the same page with your bishop. A few years ago my husband was in Haiti for a month after the earthquake. During that time, my daughter needed a minor surgery and I wanted her to have a blessing. Our home teacher was out of town and his companion was his 14-year-old son. So, I called an LDS man up the street to see if he would stop by on his way home from work and give her a blessing. He did, and I was grateful. But the priesthood didn’t seem super accessible to me at the time.
  • Argument #5: We don’t know the reasons why, only that God ordained men because that is how He wants it. I guess you could say this is where I am right now. I don’t know the reasons. When I look at it logically, it seems to me that women should have the priesthood. When I look at it with spiritual eyes, it just doesn’t feel right. I can’t explain, and I realize that many other women DO see it with their spiritual eyes. I just can’t get there yet.

I am sure you have heard other arguments, or may have come to your own conclusions. Please share. 

So, where does this leave me? Well, I don’t think women should be ordained, at least right now. As I’ve stated above, I don’t know why and perhaps someday it will feel more “right” to me.

That is not to say that I don’t think our church could make some relatively small changes in the meantime that would help me and other women to feel a little more a part of the church we love. Below are some suggestions I have seen or have thought of. Again, please share your thoughts as well.

  • Young women being assigned as visiting teachers, as their male counterparts are as home teachers.
  • Female presidents given expanded counseling roles as part of their callings.
  • Women being allowed to serve in callings that have traditionally been held by men but that have no priesthood keys, i.e. clerks, secretaries, and Sunday School presidencies. On the flip side, men could serve in Primary presidencies too. I would love it. :)
  • Women leaders should have a place at the table in important meetings. I am speaking specifically of PEC (which currently RS presidents may be invited to…but there is that catch, “invited”, which some bishops do regularly, some occasionally, and some never). On second thought, why not invite the YW and Primary presidents as well? Combined, these 3 women serve a higher percentage of the ward than the men’s presidencies combined , with the exception of the bishopric. Between all of the children in the ward and all the women age 12 and up, to have this small, occasional voice does not seem fair or adequate. I watched the recent video of the three female general presidents, and I have to say it felt a little patronizing to me. I heard a lot of, “they seek out our opinions” or “they listen to us” or “they value what we say”, but the point is, it’s always at the invitation of a man. So, if you have a less enlightened bishop who doesn’t value women’s opinions – well, your just out of luck there. To me, it kind of just feels like a pat on the head and not a real voice.
  • How about the bishop’s wife being more a part of things? (I am not saying this just as a bishop’s wife, I have often thought it before. :) ) I didn’t realize until recently how difficult it can be on a couple when a man is called as bishop. Suddenly he can talk to you about almost nothing and yet you see the struggles he is having. You may hear a little gossip about him or things that are going on. You see him on his knees in hours of prayer, and yet when you ask what’s up all he says is, “I can’t really talk about it.” Generally, men do not become bishops without a wife who is very capable and spiritual herself. I wouldn’t mind a little more credit in that area by my husband being able to say to me, “yeah, I am needing to make a change in this presidency but I am struggling so much with what is the right thing to do.” Obviously, confidential things are confidential. But those things that aren’t confidential but perhaps somewhat sensitive could use a little female input. The bishop’s wife can be a great resource for that. (Granted, some bishops still tell their wives everything…this I know from experience. Some, like my husband, tell me almost nothing and seek an opinion only occasionally.)

I’m sure I have not even tapped the surface of ways that women can be more involved without being ordained. I would love to hear your thoughts!

{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Amy Lockhart April 10, 2013, 7:05 am

    Thank you Angie. I can’t contribute to the discussion today but just wanted to genuinely thank you for such a genuine, well thought out and polite post.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Below The SurfaceMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart April 10, 2013, 7:05 am

    That’s a lot of genuine :)
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Getting AheadMy Profile

  • mango leaf April 10, 2013, 8:50 am

    Love this. The sexism in the church becomes more and more difficult the more our culture stops being sexist. My friends think I’m nuts and want NOTHING to do with the church JUST because of that. :(

  • Angie Gardner April 10, 2013, 12:04 pm

    mango leaf, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    I’m sorry your friends think you’re nuts. :)

    This is one reason I really loved Elder Holland’s talk at conference. It made me feel that if I have questions, it’s okay. I need to build on the faith I do have. Sometimes that level of faith seems great and sometimes not so much, but I do think there is wisdom in fanning the flame, so to speak.

    Awhile back I was sharing some of my concerns with my husband. It’s kind of tricky with him because he has much more faith than I do. But he did tell me something that made sense and coincided well with what Elder Holland said. He said, “What you feed will grow.” Meaning, if I spend all my time “feeding” my discontent that will just get bigger and bigger until perhaps I don’t feel I have a place in the church anymore. On the other hand, if I feed the more faithful part and develop those parts of my testimony that I do feel solid about, that part will grow and perhaps give me a little more comfort space, if that makes sense.

  • barbj April 10, 2013, 10:51 pm

    Love this, helping me sort out my own feelings. Angie, you’re just awesome.

  • Amy Lockhart April 11, 2013, 6:38 am

    When you stretch a rubber band wide enough and long enough, it does increase in size, ever so slightly. It seems that this is the way of change and growth most often. The horrific trial that brings your world tumbling down, only to return almost back to what you were after the dust settles. The ebb and flow of life and stretching does bring us closer to the best end result, but it takes a while. Most often a long while. Such are things within the church, in my experience anyway.

    Angie: “So, if you have a less enlightened bishop who doesn’t value women’s opinions – well, your just out of luck there. To me, it kind of just feels like a pat on the head and not a real voice.”

    I see the flip side of this most often. A Bishop or BP that goes out of his way to make sure the women in leadership positions are involved, valued, and heard from, but the women are timid and won’t speak up. It is frustrating to no end. One could argue that it’s just personality but I have seen outgoing independent women sit by and watch during meetings and then complain later. I can find no logical explanation for it other than it is somehow tied to the culture that has been created by heavy handed male dominated leadership. Even when it does not exist in a unit, it seems to have a hold on things.

    Angie: “Women being allowed to serve in callings that have traditionally been held by men but that have no priesthood keys, i.e. clerks, secretaries, and Sunday School presidencies. On the flip side, men could serve in Primary presidencies too. I would love it.”

    Amen! I dated a guy that was particularly frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t serve in a primary presidency. It seemed odd to me at the time, but I recognized later that the oddity was not his desire but rather my inability to see something due to blindness from cultural acceptance verses critical thinking. The more I thought about it the more sense it made and began to open my eyes to the mystery behind why certain callings, like those you mentioned, were strictly male or female. I can see changes such as this having a positive effect for sure.

    Angie: “Young women being assigned as visiting teachers, as their male counterparts are as home teachers.”

    This struck me because of how easy it would be to implement, how stupid it is that it’s not already in practice, and why didn’t I think of it :) My daughters beg to be VTeachers, all the time! They are young still, but how amazing would it be to tell them they will get the chance when they are 12. Again, I think it does speak loudly of how easy it is to just go along with things rather than think for ourselves and be willing to question and speak to our leaders about it. There seems to be a bubble for women in the church, but I am not certain it has been created for us. I think we may have created it ourselves because it’s easier to stay in our place. It’s no secret that those who make waves get their boat rocked in the process.

    Angie: “How about the bishop’s wife being more a part of things?”

    This is a scary one for me. I have had particularly awful experiences with Bishop’s wives. Not all of course, but the bad outweighs the good by far in my church life. It could be possible that some of that might be helped by removing the forbidden nature from it. If she were called and set apart in some specific capacity rather than dictating by self righteous declaration over all, it could work I suppose. But I remain deeply concerned about this solution, again for personal reasons.

    Also, the good experiences I have had have been with women who wanted nothing to do with it and everything to do with letting it all go. Almost as though there was a physical block between the Bishop’s wife and wife and mother roles. I was good friends with three that have been most wonderful in the capacity and when I asked how they did it with such grace there answers were almost identical. *That’s his and I leave it to him. I pray the Lord will strengthen him to handle whatever comes and I do my best to handle my responsibilities well so as to not add to his burden.*

    I don’t know specifics on how they dealt with the emotional side of wanting to be there for their husbands as you mention, but they did seem to be able to compartmentalize things and give it to the Lord in general. They also seemed to possess an almost unnatural ability to not care what other people said about them or their spouse as well. Maybe this was part of giving it to the Lord and trusting in him, I don’t know. I suppose we are all supposed to be on a path toward unnaturalness :) I find that area huge pit stop personally!

    You have done an excellent job of laying things out here and I really appreciate it! Now what to do about it, hmm? Going up the chain of command, although great in theory, doesn’t translate practically in a situation like this. If each unit were in charge of these decisions sure, but they are not, and so we are left with a conundrum. How to reach the big guns without a major to-do.
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  • Naismith April 11, 2013, 8:10 am

    I appreciated your suggestions of small changes. But I do have issue with your #1 argument. No, I don’t think motherhood=priesthood. But I also don’t agree that fatherhood is the equivalent of motherhood.

    Not even close, for me anyway. I appreciate that some women have easy, delightful pregnancies and manage to breastfeed without needing a special diet. But the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding had a profound impact on my physical and emotional health. I’ve had two surgeries to repair the damage, flunked out of college courses, was fired from a job.

    And my husband experienced none of that. He could be a great dad (and is) without having to physically put any skin in the game.

    Yes I appreciate that some women do not bear children in this life, etc. But generally gospel principles are not about the exceptions (I read that here, anyway).

    Frankly, I would commit suicide if I believed that motherhood = fatherhood, and I was merely so flamingly inadequate, incompetent, worthless, and thoroughly bad at birthing and nursing. Most women deal with this by not having more than one child once they realize how demanding it is for them, but I heard my other children calling to me.

    Instead of feeling like a failure at the betrayal of my body, I find comfort and logic in the idea of different roles, helping each other, each contribution being equal, and men being assigned to provide and protect so that a woman can spend 9 months lying on the couch moaning or whatever.

  • Tracy Polyak April 11, 2013, 8:17 am

    I don’t claim to have all the answers, or even any good answer on this issue. But I have not had any problem with the issue of women and the priesthood since an experience I had on my mission. I was the only bi-lingual person in the branch. The English-speaking branch president needed to interview a Spanish-speaking sister and her 10yo daughter (separately), and I was called on to translate. These interviews were absolutely gut-wrenching, and they haunt me to this day. I don’t know what God’s plan is for all of womanhood, but that day, I knew that I was not meant to ever hold the priesthood. I could not endure those sorts of experiences on a regular basis.
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  • Amy Lockhart April 11, 2013, 9:28 am

    Tracy: Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Naismith: “Instead of feeling like a failure at the betrayal of my body, I find comfort and logic in the idea of different roles, helping each other, each contribution being equal, and men being assigned to provide and protect so that a woman can spend 9 months lying on the couch moaning or whatever.”

    :) I know of only two other women that have struggled in similar ways as myself in relation to this miracle of procreation that did not prove so wonderful for me, except the end result of a beautiful baby of course. Thanks for sharing.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Be a Good MotherMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith April 11, 2013, 9:33 am

    I’m swamped and can’t comment at length, but wanted to throw this into the ring.

    Last month I wrote a post at T&S that pertains to this briefly. It gives a great deal of my opinion on the matter.

    Dumb Reasons for Exclusively Male Priesthood
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  • Angie Gardner April 11, 2013, 11:11 am

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I will try to go through them one by one here.

    barbj: Thank you and welcome to MM.

    Amy: “A Bishop or BP that goes out of his way to make sure the women in leadership positions are involved, valued, and heard from, but the women are timid and won’t speak up.”

    I have seen this too and it frustrates me. I think there are lots of reasons for it – some just off the top of my head from my own experience are:
    -they may be intimidated by the sheer numbers of men compared with women (say, in a ward council). I know this has happened to me before where I’m in a meeting with 3 women and 10 or more men sometimes I’ve started to speak up on something and gotten a little push back from the men and just felt like it wasn’t a battle I could win so I just shut up.
    -most women (especially LDS women) simply don’t have the experience that men do, both in the church world and the career world. They are not used to having points where they don’t see eye to eye but they work through. I think a big part of this is just the church structure and how men are always “in charge” since we are little girls. Women have fewer opportunities to serve in presidencies because there are fewer presidencies led by women. Women in the past (although this is changing, thank goodness) went on missions in much smaller numbers than boys, and this is a place where many of those leadership skills can be developed. Most LDS women still don’t work outside the home or do so in traditionally “female” jobs (certainly there are exceptions…I’m just thinking about my family, friends, and ward members, and very few of them are “career women”), which is another place they can learn these skills. So, I think most of it is just that they aren’t given the experience, at least in large numbers, so it keeps them down so to speak. That’s just my take on it. But I agree, it is frustrating.

    Amy: “There seems to be a bubble for women in the church, but I am not certain it has been created for us. I think we may have created it ourselves because it’s easier to stay in our place. It’s no secret that those who make waves get their boat rocked in the process.”

    Agreed. (Similar to above) Sometimes it’s just easier to float along than to be seen as the ward troublemaker. :)

    Amy: “I have had particularly awful experiences with Bishop’s wives. Not all of course, but the bad outweighs the good by far in my church life.”

    While I was making that suggestion somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I do realize that an involved bishop’s wife is not always a good idea, although I would say for the most part I have trusted the bishop’s wife at least as much as I’ve trusted him and usually more (probably just because I could relate to them more, maybe?) I would assume if anything like this every happened in an official capacity they would have to look a lot closer at who they selected as bishop. ;) I don’t know, this one varies so much between individuals that it’s hard to say. I’ve had bishops I’ve loved and bishops I’ve sustained but not loved, and I’ve had wives I’ve loved and trusted and others I wouldn’t trust in the least. So that’s hard. When I look at how I as a bishop’s wife could be better utilized I envision more of an administrative rather than ministering role. Bishops wear so many hats and it seems that if a wife could take a bit of that burden it might be a load off of him and also beneficial to the ward because of the insight she might give? Let me see if I can give a few examples.

    -I don’t want to be in a counseling position in my ward. For one thing, my husband is MUCH more understanding and patient than I am. People would hate me because they would come to me with a problem and I’d probably say, “buck up and do what you need to do to work it out.” (I’m kind of a no excuses kind of person…not saying that is good AT ALL but it’s me.) So, I don’t want to know people’s personal business and I don’t want to be involved with it in the least. On the other hand, if I could help with some of the other stuff it might free him up to do more of that in a way that isn’t so overwhelming?
    -I recently heard of something who turned down a calling in my ward (I heard it from another sister, not my husband). I told him later that I had heard about it and then said, “Well, I could have told you she’d turn it down” because I have worked with her in church before and she has told me that there are things she just will not do. Now, that doesn’t mean the bishopric couldn’t be inspired to ask her anyway and see if things might have changed, or at least just to extend the offer and put the ball in her court…but perhaps they could have been more prepared (approaching her a little differently, having a backup plan, etc.) if they would have sought out a female opinion. Women often know these things about each other. We’ve worked with many of the sisters in our ward – they have been our friends and VTs and VT companions and our kids have played together at play group. It might be wise for the bishopric to consider a female opinion or two in some of these matters of callings. It’s great for them to feel inspired and all, but there are also practical things that a woman might now that they just don’t, and at the least they could have a bit of a head’s up about it.
    -In the same vein, I think when there is going to be a big change, female voices are nice. I am not speaking of just the bishop’s wife but also the female presidencies and moms. We don’t need to take polls or anything for who the new RS president should be, for example, but asking the current president and other women leaders their opinion seems appropriate. For example, I can feel a little thing brewing in my ward over seminary. There are lots of issues involved but I know the moms are concerned because some of them talk to me about it.

    Sometimes I feel that my husband thinks he needs to make all these decisions himself with his counselors and I just want to scream at him (and I have, haha…not really screamed but I have given my opinion) that sometimes moms know stuff that the bishopric may not be privy too. The most outspoken people will probably give the bishop their opinion anyway, but there are a whole lot of us in the middle who just kind of sit back and watch it play out. A ward would be total chaos if we got everyone’s opinion on everything, but I think in the case of bigger decisions that affect a lot of people it’s very wise for a bishop to have a feel for how the women feel about it. I have heard it suggested that all callings giving to women be run by the RS president first. I think this could be good but perhaps not enough? For there again, you’re only involving ONE woman. I don’t know, it’s complicated. I am not sure what the right balance is but somewhere in between running the ward democratically and running it with only men being privy to most of the decision making?

    Amy: “I don’t know specifics on how they dealt with the emotional side of wanting to be there for their husbands as you mention, but they did seem to be able to compartmentalize things and give it to the Lord in general. They also seemed to possess an almost unnatural ability to not care what other people said about them or their spouse as well.”

    Yeah, this is hard. I’m trying to learn. As Amy knows (and maybe others) my husband is also in a profession (social worker) that demands almost total confidentiality. Now that he is bishop too, I really feel a distance between us because he really can talk to me about very little in his work OR his church life. We can talk about very general things but it’s not specific. So, we can talk about our kids, the weather, politics…but it all feels on the surface to me. I don’t think he and I have found that “perfect spot” yet. I only know that it hurts my feelings when I walk in a room and he hurries and puts a letter he’s reading away, or when he takes a call and goes to the furthest corner of the house and shuts the door. I know I shouldn’t take it personally but I do. And I also realize that not all bishops are as serious about this as my husband is. He takes quite seriously his job to keep things confidential – which probably makes his ward members trust him a lot but makes his wife feel very much on the outside.

    Quick story to illustrate. Many years ago he was serving as ward clerk and I was in the hospital for an extended stay with pregnancy complications. Every week after church he would give me the update about callings and such. But, when I got out of the hospital I found out that 2 very big things had happened that he hadn’t told me about: Someone had moved and someone had a child diagnosed with cancer. When I got a little frustrated that he hadn’t told me these things, he said he didn’t feel that he could because he had only heard of them in bishopric meetings (even though everyone in the ward knew by word of mouth).

    It’s a personal problem, I know. :)

    Anyway, this is too long already, so lest I have a computer moment and lose it all I’ll post this and address the other posts in another comment.

  • Angie Gardner April 11, 2013, 11:44 am

    Amy: “Now what to do about it, hmm? Going up the chain of command, although great in theory, doesn’t translate practically in a situation like this. If each unit were in charge of these decisions sure, but they are not, and so we are left with a conundrum. How to reach the big guns without a major to-do.”

    And here lies the problem. How to help things change without being seen as a troublemaker, an apostate, or a radical feminist. ;) I honestly think there are two quite different approaches people seem to be taking and there is evidence that both are working in their own ways.
    -First is through the local level. More women are speaking to their bishops, stake presidents, etc. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, but just a suggestion here or there of things they might do to have women’s voices heard more. Some bishops are doing just a fantastic job at this and implementing some things that are very simple but visible reminders that women matter. I have heard of one bishop who gives the YW assignments so they have something to do while their male counterparts are preparing the Sacrament – i.e. greeting people as they come in, helping to plan the program, make the programs, etc. I’ve also heard of stake presidencies who are asking the entire stake RS presidency to sit on the stand with the stake presidency during stake conference. Inviting women to pray (especially opening prayers, as up until last weekend some wards were still under the impression that women could not give opening prayers!) By small and simple things, great things come to pass? Maybe?
    -Second is through much more vocal methods. Sometimes women involved in these things are seen as heck-raising man haters, but the fact of the matter is our general leaders ARE listening and they have made some changes (and I believe they will be making more and more). The wearing pants to church campaign is one example. Another that was even more effective was the recent women praying in conference movement, where women wrote letters to a few select general authorities asking for them to look at the issue, and they did – and we saw the results. Another example is the ordain women movement. While I personally do not think women should be ordained, I admire the courage of women to ask the question and open a dialogue about it.

    I personally find myself much more in the small and simple category, but I fully support those of my sisters who are courageous enough to push the bigger issues.

    Naismith: “No, I don’t think motherhood=priesthood. But I also don’t agree that fatherhood is the equivalent of motherhood.”

    I will be honest in admitting I hadn’t considered the pure physical and emotional weight that is part of motherhood for women. Men can certainly be sympathetic and can have their worlds rocked by fatherhood as well, but not in the same ways. I agree with that. In cases where women aren’t physically carrying, delivering, and nursing a child (i.e. adoptive mothers, for example) perhaps it’s a little more equal.

    I suppose I look at that portion of my motherhood separately from actual parenting. Even though it was 27 months of my life carrying children, approximately 24 or so hours in laboring and a few more in pushing, plus an extended period of bed rest and hospitalization with my third, plus the recovery from 3 c-sections….

    I’m getting tired just thinking about it! Where were we again? ;)

    ….so what I was saying is that even with all that, the physical part of it just seems so small now. Even with health issues that almost 10 years since my last birth are not resolved, I consider all of that the EASY part of my parenting life.

    I also realize it is not the same for all women. Some have it much harder than I did. Others had it much easier. Some can’t get pregnant and that’s another struggle entirely. Some go through years of the grueling and horrible adoption process and that’s yet another struggle. And then there are the women who never have the opportunity to be mothers. I think while men can sympathize with all of these things from a woman’s perspective, it’s true they cannot really empathize with it – because women feel all of these things on a different level than men do.

    That being said, when all is said and done the parenting of the children rests with both parents. I completely agree it’s in different roles and different ways, but I think both roles are equally as important. Thus, I stand by the statement that the counterpart to motherhood is fatherhood, not priesthood.

    Naismith: “Instead of feeling like a failure at the betrayal of my body, I find comfort and logic in the idea of different roles, helping each other, each contribution being equal, and men being assigned to provide and protect so that a woman can spend 9 months lying on the couch moaning or whatever.”

    Agreed. Different roles, equal contributions, equal value.

  • Angie Gardner April 11, 2013, 11:52 am

    Tracy: “These interviews were absolutely gut-wrenching, and they haunt me to this day. I don’t know what God’s plan is for all of womanhood, but that day, I knew that I was not meant to ever hold the priesthood. I could not endure those sorts of experiences on a regular basis.”

    Not knowing details (I can only imagine and I am sorry you had to go through this) I have just a couple of questions/points. First, was it the difficulty in ministering that you would not be able to endure (i.e. knowing hard things you didn’t want to know about people) or was it the sheer amount of time/administration involved in priesthood leadership?

    And second, you said you could not endure it on a regular basis. I guess (hear again, not knowing details) I wonder how many men would say the same thing? How many of them really “want” to go through these hard experiences with people? I can imagine that it’s incredibly difficult at times for anyone, male or female. And yet, there are women who are very qualified and willing to do things on a similar level (some of them even do it professionally). So I guess I would say that some women wouldn’t want to and some would. Some men wouldn’t want to and some would. Most of us, I think, male or female, do not really seek after this kind of ministering but we would do it if asked and if given the tools to do it well (the priesthood being part of that).

    And finally…Alison: “Last month I wrote a post at T&S that pertains to this briefly. It gives a great deal of my opinion on the matter.”

    How funny. I guess I should be doing more reading on the bloggernacle before I post. :) And, you should have posted that HERE. Just saying. ;)

    Seriously though, this is just a topic that is on the minds of a lot of LDS women right now, for various reasons. It’s also obviously on the minds of our leaders as they hear more and more from the women in the church about concerns they have.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 11, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Naismith:

    I appreciate that some women have easy, delightful pregnancies and manage to breastfeed without needing a special diet. But the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding had a profound impact on my physical and emotional health. I’ve had two surgeries to repair the damage, flunked out of college courses, was fired from a job.

    I hear you, sister! :)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Pizza Factory Bait & Switch Promotion FailMy Profile

  • Marie K April 12, 2013, 11:17 am

    About the priesthood issue: I don´t think about it at all. Maybe I am naive. I belive God will take care of it, if it should change. I agree that what you feed will grow.

    The women in the church feeling they have no voice or no influence, that is a bigger concern. Since I have a diffrent background then the rest of you I see it in another way. For me it is not a problem. I am swedish, living in Sweden, 36 years old. Grown up in a great family so I have no problems with my self esteem. I also have a personality that likes to talk and be heard… For me it has never been a problem, when I want to be heard, I am heard. I think a big part of it is our attitude. If we as women don´t see ourselves as important or strong enough that others should listen too us, why should they? I understand that this could be very hard for some women. For me it is easy, just as the women who have a hard time with this have it easy in other areas. It is not about beeing better then others. We are all diffrently unique.

    I think we need to start with ourselves and our daughters, the primary children and the YW.

    Sweden is also one of the most liberated countries in the world (for good and bad). So we have an advantage over USA and other countries. Last year a newspaper interviewed our premier minister and asked how much influence his wife had on him as premier minister. Beeing swedish I had to laugh, of course he would not say the truth altough most married couples influence each other greatly. When my hubby became BP, bishop and now SP since 2,5 years I have realised that the members look up to me (as the wife) much more than they should. I am just a person, but I am still my husbands wife and I know that I am a part of why he was called. I have to magnify myself in this and grow a lot. I am his “third counselor” and biggest supporter and a clear voice in all the praise… I don´t need the priesthood for that. With the gospel and Christ I am enough. (Have to keep evolving though). I have also found that I need to help my husband keep the balance, as a husband, father, engineer and SP. I feel that is my biggest contribution, and in that I help him influence the stake members. If he chooses his family first, his example will reach out to the members.

    We as women are enough! Let´s be great at it, and teach our daughters too.

    (Sorry about the long preaching). I hope I have not offended anyone, english is only my second language and I have a tendency to come off a bit harsh.

  • Angie Gardner April 12, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Marie K, thanks for the comment and welcome to MM. You didn’t come off harsh at all :).

    I love your confident personality and certainly wish more women felt they could speak up as you do.

    It seems to me that come cultures are much more advanced than others in regards to how women are regarded. Yours seems quite progressive and I’ve heard of others where it’s like pulling teeth to get women to help lead. I think that’s even more reason to have some areas in the church where women are more “automatically” involved so that their voices can be heard even where personality or culture hasn’t traditionally allowed it.

    I wanted to ask you more about the third counselor comment. I have heard this often, sometimes even in a somewhat official capacity (i.e. one of my former bishop’s wives told me that when her husband was called the SP told him to use his wife as a third counselor and that she was the one who suggested me as Primary president). I am very curious how frequently this happens. Maybe we are new at it but I don’t my husband has the idea at all that I am to be a third counselor. ;) I don’t mean to make him come off as not valuing my opinion because I think he does, but I just know there are lots of things out there he doesn’t talk to me about so I can’t very well give my opinion when I don’t know the topic at hand, you know? For those of you out there who have had a husband as BP, bishop, stake president, etc. have you ever heard this “third counselor” thing?

  • Marie K April 12, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Angie Gardner.
    When my husband was called as SP. The area authorities told me that I was the first counselor. Me and hubby sat together and discussed counselors for him. Then his new counselors took over first and second of course. I was told by the area authorities that I was very important for my husbands new calling. They told us that he should discuss things with me. Obviously not the confidential stuff or worthiness issues. So we discuss. I happily say whatever I think and he picks and chooses. I have told him (sternly), stuff about the women. And input about organizational things, new callings, activities, feedback about talks, weird stuff I hear and so on. It seems to me that your husband is “damaged” from his work, which BTW can not be easy, (having 3 foster children ourselves). Maybe he can ask the stakepresident how to do it. I know my hubby have interviews with the bishops and BP quite often, a perfect opportunity to bring it up.

  • Angie Gardner April 12, 2013, 2:11 pm

    Interesting. I think it’s awesome that you were specifically told to counsel with your husband in his calling. I do think your experience is probably the exception rather than the rule, though. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, or maybe just varies from leader to leader? This is part of what bothers me is that there can be so much variation from place to place and from leader to leader. It seems to me that there should be some consistency – either wives are involved or they are not.

    My husband does meet with the SP once a month. When he was called we also had quite an extensive discussion on the day he was called with the SP about possible counselors and some issues in the ward (with me there). The SP didn’t give instruction to involve me or not to. In the early days we did talk about things a lot and he told me many of his early impressions on things, especially in regards to counselors and such. But once the counselors were in place they kind of took over that role and I wouldn’t say he consults me on a whole lot anymore.

    It is true he is very used to this confidentiality thing with his work. It’s not even that he doesn’t like to talk about, it’s that legally and ethically he just can’t. I get that.

    So I guess in terms of the counseling/worthiness end of it I totally understand why he can’t share. As for as the more administrative end where I’d like to see wives more involved, I think most men in the church just see that traditionally it’s been down within the bishopric and the wife isn’t really a part of that.

    I don’t know the intimate details of every bishop’s relationship with his wife and what he tells her or doesn’t, but I suspect my experience is pretty typical. It’s not that they are purposefully not involving wives, it’s just that once there are official counselors in place they have them to discuss things with. And really, after all their meetings where they discuss such things they are probably just tired of discussing it and don’t want to rehash it all again with another person.

  • barbj April 12, 2013, 7:18 pm

    I don’t ever want a bishop’s wife knowing stuff. That is just wrong all around.

  • Amy Lockhart April 12, 2013, 8:32 pm

    I had the thought today that this male preference starts pretty early in the church. My daughter has been begging to do girl scouts ever since her oldest brother started cub scouts. I have lamely been telling her to wait until she’s 8 and then she gets to do Achievement Days. To which she has many replies; where’s the camping, the badges, the award nights, the pinewood derby, the special winter and summer camps, and on and on and on. Oh, and, “But Achievement Days only gets to meet two times a month and scouts get to meet every week!” Hmm. My lameness shines bright in my lazy responses like, “Well, that’s just the way the church does it sweetie.” Yikes!

    I did try to get Achievement days ramped up to every week in our Branch recently. I was met with resistance by the PP, and eventual denial due to the handbook saying Achievement Days is only allowed to be held twice a month. Maybe I’ll head on over to that handbook myself and check the facts. And if the facts say so then I will be even more concerned.

    Anyway, It just struck me today how early it all starts. :(
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Murphy’s LawMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner April 12, 2013, 9:20 pm

    barbj: “I don’t ever want a bishop’s wife knowing stuff. That is just wrong all around.”

    If by stuff you mean anything confidential or worthiness-related I totally agree with you.

    Amy: Don’t even get me started on cub scouts versus activity days or YW/boy scouts. It’s not pretty when I go there. :)

  • Amy Lockhart April 13, 2013, 6:12 am

    I am all good with not pretty. Do tell.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Murphy’s LawMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner April 13, 2013, 11:01 am

    Some day when I have several hours. :)

    I’ve written about it before. I just don’t like the amount of church resources that are used for the BSA. And I don’t like the budget differences between boys and girls because of it. The church can do it better and cheaper and we should.

    I think the Boy Scouts are a fine organization and if you’d like your boys to be involved in it, great. Just pay for it like I have to for girl scouts. ;)

  • Dan April 16, 2013, 12:14 am

    Why did you seek out a priesthood blessing rather than just say a prayer? Is the blessing supposed to work better than a prayer? This is a question that no one has ever been able to explain to me.

  • Angie Gardner April 16, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Dan, you ask a great question – one that probably deserves it’s own post for another day.

    I have seen both prayer and priesthood blessings work. I have also seen them both “not work” in the sense that what happened was different than what was prayed for or promised in a blessing.

    I was quite miraculously healed from a severe burn after getting a priesthood blessing. I guess the question would be, would that healing have happened anyway with just a prayer? What about just with great medical care? We will never know because a blessing DID occur and I WAS healed.

    I guess on a personal level, we just always get blessings before anesthesia. That’s probably because I almost didn’t wake up once and it just helps calm my nerves (even if I’m not the one getting the blessing) to know that we have sought that blessing from a priesthood holder.

    Honestly, today I might handle that situation completely differently, as my thoughts have evolved somewhat in the last few years.

    Here is where I think there is a separation between what the priesthood actually does. To me, there is the ministering end (giving blessings, etc.) and the administering end (church callings, etc.). It is in the administering in particular that I think women should have a much larger role, although there are accounts in the early church of women giving healing blessings, performing anointings, etc. so at one time women did have more of a role even in the ministering end of the priesthood.

  • Laurie Nguyen April 19, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I, too, have thought a great deal about this. I even posted something on my religion blog about it.
    Laurie Nguyen recently posted…Women and the PriesthoodMy Profile

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