Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arguments Against Female Ordination That Don't Work

I do not consider myself a feminist, though I have several opinions and feelings that some feminists share. Like many political topics (and make no mistake, the action taken to ordain women is inarguably political no matter how some might wish to convince otherwise,) I have a foot in both camps. I have felt (and am currently struggling with) the sting of unrighteous dominion, of the priesthood privilege being wielded to put me firmly in my place.

But there are many arguments against female ordination being lauded by people who, quite frankly, ought to know better. Mostly in the interest of working some of it out for myself, I'm going to gnaw on them a bit.

  1. "Women have keys of creation."

    This was never said, never implied. Don't believe me? Watch/read Elder Oaks' talk for yourself. He never said that women have the keys of creation, only that man hasn't been given those keys. Which would seemingly argue that women have NOT been given them, either.

  2. "Men can't make babies."

    Yeah, neither can most women at any given time. Also, making babies is not a power of heaven. It is a function of our physical bodies. Like anything else we do, it can be sanctified and consecrated to God. But gestating is not a power of heaven, and is NOT what is referred to by "motherhood" in a gospel sense. "Mother" is a priesthood title, inasmuch as the priesthood is the power of God. It does not mean to God what it often means to us. Being a physical mother can most easily teach us what it means to be a Mother in Israel, but it is not the same thing.

  3. "No one really has autonomy in the Church, so women shouldn't expect it."

    The real problem not about autonomy, not in that sense. It's about being trusted to receive revelation. Most women I have known have had their relationship and communication with the Spirit trumped simply because they are women, and therefore deemed less authorized to receive it. Doctrinal? Not at all. But this doesn't seem to stop many men. It is these kinds of experiences that make women long after priesthood ordination. In their minds and in the minds of most members of the Church, so please don't pretend they are delusional, being ordained to an office in the Priesthood confers someone with a more "authorized" form of revelation. It isn't doctrinal. The authority of the priesthood is not revelatory in nature. Revelation is a gift of the Spirit.

    The keys of the priesthood are to administer ordinances. The ordinances are what confer priesthood power.

  4. "Women wield priesthood through their husbands."

    I know people say this, but there isn't one covenant, one doctrinal teaching to support it. As a single mom, with some of the covenantal insight that has given me, I can emphatically and firmly state this. Eternal Priesthood is jointly wielded. But that is not the same aspect of the Priesthood as ordination. Being ordained to an office in the Priesthood is very like a calling. I really wish that we could start seeing it that way, rather than seeing it as a hierarchal staircase.

    This viewpoint is even more problematic when the husband is exercising unrighteous dominion. If we "wield priesthood through [our] husbands," this means that single mothers have no priesthood power. This is false. Again, priesthood power comes through making covenants. The authorization of those covenants comes through the structure of the priesthood. But the efficacy of those covenants is entirely based upon an individual's righteousness. No power of the priesthood can be maintained upon any other principle. Women have direct access to God and His power through the covenants they make, from baptism all the way up to the covenants made as one enters the Celestial Kingdom.

  5. "Who would want more work?"

    This shouldn't even be addressed, it's so ridiculous, but I've heard it said so prevalently it needs to be acknowledged. The answer is WE should. When we are serving God, we should be eager to accept all the work He sees fit to send us. I would accept priesthood ordination with a trepidatious yet eager heart, should the Lord grant it to me.

  6. "I have more important things to focus on."

    That's a nice sentiment, but not really germane. Just because it isn't a problem for YOU, doesn't invalidate that it is a problem for THEM. As members, we have taken upon ourselves the covenant to stand as a representative of the Savior in the lives of those around us. To "mourn with those that mourn" and comfort them while standing as a witness to the power of God. If you choose to mock or ridicule these women in their pain, you are violating your covenants. There is no way to sugarcoat it. I, for one, am not willing to risk that as a greater sin to standing in line to petition for the priesthood.

Yes, the actions of those seeking female ordination are misguided. But we are all misguided in various areas of doctrine. They do not deserve our ridicule. Having listened to much of what they have to say, I believe that many are truly trying to be humble and failing no worse than the rest of us. Don't judge them because they aren't hiding their sins. At least they are trying to engage. Many with humble and teachable hearts. Ridiculing them makes YOU complicit in their estrangement from the Savior.

We are all sinners. Sisters and brothers in the mortal world. All, whether Mormon, Lutheran, Evangelical, Baptist, or Atheist, are our fellow soldiers in this war. Just because some fight differently than you, and even if some have seemed to give up, they are no less precious and no less deserving of our kindness.

I understand how frustrating it can be when we feel as though our fellow sisters and brothers are sabotaging our efforts. But remember that if your heart is pure before the Lord, if you have taken upon yourself the name of Christ, no action can sabotage your work. Press forward with firmness of hope. Let go the urge to attack. There is only one person whom that action serves, and he isn't our Lord.


  1. Thank you, Molly. I needed that tonight. Self-pity and doubt were rearing their ugly heads, and you totally slapped them down with one short comment.

  2. Whatever Ordain Woman is it is not working within the system that has been set up. If the Lord wanted to give women the priesthood he would not tell women to do work outside the order set in place. He would work through the women who have authority as a Relief Society Presidency to represent the women of the church.

    This movement is not something new. The only thing new about it is the easy access all of us have to the Internet and news media. This gives them a higher profile and makes people interested in talking about them.

  3. Yvonne, perhaps the Lord is working women who have authority. I rather think He is.

    And it is nothing new. But it is new to them. It is raw and real to them. Nothing excuses us from exercising our covenantal powers of charity.

    1. I've already commented, but thank you again for the reminder that we should always be charitable to others. I find it puzzling when others assert knowledge of the Lord's will and then use that knowledge to justify exclusion and ridicule of others.

  4. Well said SilverRain. The Restoration is a work in progress--else why would we believe in continuing revelation. I think the power imbalances as to gender in the structures of the church are something as to which God will "yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

  5. This was great. As an open member of Ordain Women, I appreciate your perspective and honesty. It's gratifying to know that there are people who are actually thinking about these issues in a serious manner and remain Christlike while doing so. We may disagree on certain issues or Ordain Women, but unlike so many others I've encountered, I feel like you actually care about whether we leave or stay. Thank you.

  6. CAW, I'm glad you saw that there are those of us who feel that way. Honestly, I think it would be a majority if a conversation was able to set aside ideologies for a moment. There are more people in the Church who care about you and your sisters (my sisters, too!) than it often seems online. I promise you that.

    They, like anyone, sometimes forget the more important things when hashing over doctrinal and ideological differences. But most of them are very willing to put aside the differences to offer open arms, once they realize that is needed.

  7. I've seen your commentsin the bloggernacle and I always appreciate your thoughtfulness, even if I occasionally see things different than you. Thanks for this post.


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