There has been a lot of buzz in the bloggernacle lately. A Facebook group was created in February called Let Women Pray in General Conference. To the surprise of many, Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack is reporting that women are scheduled to pray in General Conference for the first time next month. Is this a coincidence, or evidence of activism working?
There is another group that has put together a blog called Ordain Women, with the catch phrase “MORMON WOMEN SEEKING EQUALITY AND ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD.” There are photos of men and women publicly affirming their advocacy of women being ordained. Will such activism work?
I thought it would be interesting to continue my series on the book Mormon Doctrine. (I’ve previously discussed what Elder McConkie said about Blacks and Catholicism), but this post will be a little different. While Bruce made changes to both of those previous entries between 1958 and 1979, apparently no changes were necessary regarding his entry on Priestesses. Here’s what both the 1958 and 1979 versions say:
Priestesses. See CALLING AND ELECTION SURE, CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, ENDOWMENTS, EXALTATION, KINGS, MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD, PRIESTHOOD, PRIESTS, QUEENS. Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them and are not ordained to offices therein, but they are entitled to all priesthood blessings. Those women who go on to their exaltation, ruling and reigning with husbands who are kings and priests, will themselves be queens and priestesses. They will hold positions of power, authority, and preferment in eternity.
Let’s look closer at this. “Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them…” I’ve stated previously that Michael Quinn says that women receive the priesthood as part of the endowment ceremony, while Jonathan Stapley disagrees. My mission president (back in the 1980s) said that women have held the priesthood for years as part of their work in the temple. As I listened to the initiatory ordinance closely this week, I noticed an interesting bit of wording.
When priesthood ordinances are typically performed outside the temple (blessing the sick, confirmation, ordination, etc), men pronounce that the blessing/ordination is performed “by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” However, in the temple, the ordination is performed by one “having authority.” The phrase “Melchizedek priesthood” is specifically absent. Furthermore, the proper name of the temple garments that both men and women wear are called “the garment of the holy priesthood” and during the endowment, men and women are clothed in the robes of the holy priesthood, and given the right to officiate in the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. It is clear that men hold the priesthood in the temple, but if women don’t hold the priesthood, why are they wearing the garment of the holy priesthood? Why are women wearing the robes of the holy priesthood? Why are women told in the temple that they are prepared to officiate in the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood? (Go listen for these phrases if you are not familiar with them.) It would seem my mission president disagrees with Elder McConkie that “Women do not have the priesthood conferred upon them…” I’m pretty sure that female temple workers perform the same initiatory ordinance (substituting female pronouns as necessary) using the same wording and “having authority” to perform the ordinance. If they do not hold the priesthood, under what authority are they performing the ordinance?
As young men, we are drilled into us the definition that “priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God.” I don’t see how female ordinance workers can be working under any other authority than the priesthood. Under the heading PRIESTHOOD, Mormon Doctrine states (identical in 1958 and 1979 versions)
As there is only one God and one power of God, it follows that there is only one priesthood, the eternal priesthood. Thus the Prophet taught: All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it.” (Teachings, p. 180) Also “Its institution was prior to the foundation of this earth, or the morning stars sang together, or sons of God shouted for joy,”‘ and is the highest and holiest priesthood, and is after the order of the Son of God, and all other priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same are are held, controlled, and directed by it.” (Teachings, p. 167)
It is, however, proper and common to speak of the two great orders of priesthood as priesthoods; hence, the revealed statement, “There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.” (D&C 107:1; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 80-183)
[emphasis in original]
McConkie says there is only one priesthood. Do women only hold the priesthood in the temple? (I’ve talked to a few female temple workers and they disagree as to whether they really hold the priesthood, or are merely acting under the authority of the priesthood.) Concerning PRIESTHOOD OFFICES Elder McConkie writes,
Each office is an ordained calling or assignment to serve, on a basis of primary responsibility, in a specified field of priestly responsibility.
The priesthood is greater than any of its offices. No office adds any power, dignity, or authority to the priesthood. All offices derive their rights prerogatives, graces, and powers from the priesthood. Anyone who serves in a segment of the circle must possess the power of the whole circle. No one can hold an office in the priesthood without first holding the priesthood.
Thus it is that priesthood is conferred upon worthy individuals, and they are then ordained to offices in the priesthood; and thus it is that all offices in the priesthood and in the Church are specifically designated as appendages to the priesthood; that is, they grow out of the priesthood, they are supplemental to it, they are less than the priesthood in importance. (D&C 84:29-30; 107:5.) It follows that it is greater and more important to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, for instance, than it is to hold any office in that priesthood. It is greater, accordingly, to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood than to hold the office of elder or of an apostle, though, of course, no one could be either an elder or an apostle without first possessing the higher priesthood.
Further, there is no advancement from one office to another within the Melchizedek Priesthood. Every elder holds as much priesthood as an apostle or as the President of the Church, though these latter officers hold greater administrative assignments in the kingdom.
[emphasis in original]
I can see this be argued both ways: women hold the priesthood by virtue of the endowment (else how can they administer the initiatory, signs and tokens?) though McConkie specifically denies that women hold the priesthood in his definition of PRIESTESSES. However it could also be argued that women have the priesthood without holding an office, so there is no need to give them an office because they already hold the most important part: the temple priesthood. “It follows that it is greater and more important to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, for instance, than it is to hold any office in that priesthood.”
If women hold a private priesthood in the temple, it seems that really doesn’t matter to the people at Ordain Women. They want a more public role of equality. Concerning the entry for PRIESTHOOD OFFICES (also unchanged between 1958 and 1979 editions),Why can’t girls become deaconesses and pass the sacrament like their brothers? Why can’t women become bishops, or bless the sick? I’ve stated previously that women held the priesthood in ancient Christianity, baptizing and administering the sacrament, and even within the LDS church, women could bless the sick by the laying on of hands until 1946. Is this another incorrect policy (like the new heading in the new Official Declaration 2) that needs to be removed by revelation? Curiously the wording in OD 2 seems to indicate that ‘“all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33).’ McConkie clearly notes that “officers hold greater administrative assignments in the kingdom.” How does this follow from 2 Nephi 26:33?
What are your thoughts?
Great post! Great questions! God’s power can reach us through nonmember servants and nonmember prophets so the LDS church has no monopoly on God’s power, but if you wish to perform an LDS ordinance we’re told you need to hold the priesthood…or do you? Humm, the priesthood is clearly authority to act within the church but beyond that, if there is a beyond that what exactly is the priesthood?
MH, I have not been a fan of Mormon Doctrine for ages. I read it as a young pup and promptly had my debating head handed to me on a platter when I quoted from it as an authority in a Young Adult meeting lo these many years ago. I learned (1) that Mormon Doctrine is not Doctrine, and (2) to do my own research, or do more research than from one book.
On the subject of women temple workers holding the priesthood, I would think that your note about the temple ordination by one “holding authority” is the key point. When the woman temple worker is released from her calling, she no longer has that authority. A holder of the priesthood still retains his priesthood even though he may be relesed from a calling which requiresthe priesthood.
I disagree on the bit that women held the priesthood and performed ordinances in the Christian Church, at least before the apostasy, unless women were allowed to marry women in the very early church. Read Paul’s admonition that Deacons (1 Timonthy 3:12) , Elders (Titus 1:5-6), and Bishops (1 Timothy, 3:2) must be the husband of one wife. Of course, you being the Heretic, will probably opine that Paul was a rogue apostle speaking for himself and not God.
But, asthey are written, those verses seemingly legislate against women holding any of those offices.
Someone once said that the Mormon church has an amazing ability to constantly re-invent itself. I see that happening all the time, and the TBMs just follow along without any duress, or questioning — the ‘sheeple’.
I remember when non-member fathers could be in the circle during the blessing of their child holding the infant. Not now. In fact, many bishops and/or their counselors insist on seeing a temple recommend first if you are there visiting the ward as a grandfather or father-in-law, uncle, etc. participating in the event.
This notion of ‘priesthood authority’ and its administration has constantly changed since the days of JS. Why? Does God change His mind from time to time for some specific reason(s) in the administration of his power and authority? Yeah, well, the Mormon apologists would say He does! But really, it’s just an oligarchy of old(er) men deciding what ‘seems’ right to them at any particular time in history. End of story. Right now, it seems like they are re-thinking the role and place of women in the church commensurate to women’s evolving roles and status in secular societies at large. And so now a woman can pray in GC and for some TBMs it’s, “Ooo, wow-wee, that’s so amazingly monumental,” while for others is just a nod, or a shrug of the shoulders.
You posed some good questions while bringing to light some interesting aspects that not too many TBMs would ever consider, and most certainly what the ‘Brethren’ and Mormon apologists would rather you didn’t.
I was asked to dedicated an in-law’s grave not too long ago. The in-law wasn’t a Mormon, but half of her family is. And since I’m not an active member of the church without a valid TR, and more than ever as time goes on, not a believing member of the LDS faith, I wondered what to do. What I decided was to dedicate the grave à la Mormon style (like I was accustomed to do from the ‘old days’), but instead of doing it “by virtue of the power and authority of the Melchizedek priesthood”, I did it “by virtue of the household of faith”. And I felt much better doing it that way than I would have any other way, *even if I was a TBM*. Why? Because the LDS religion is faith based; it’s a ‘revealed theology’. None of us will ever know for certain what the real story is 100%. For some, it’s beyond a significant percentage of ‘red flags’ to conclude that the Mormon faith is a fraud; for some others, these ‘red flags’ can be rationally explained away to their satisfaction; and for some others again, there are no ‘red flags’ to even consider.
Nevertheless, if someone wants to believe in some special power and authority granted to them by a succession of authorized predecessors, then that is their right to do so. But when these same persons denigrate my contrary, personal beliefs without me ever having stated anything disparaging about theirs, then that’s when I can get a little more than annoyed.
When they suggest (of whom some have) that I’m not ‘really married’ like them, because my wife and I *only* have a civil marriage instead of a temple ‘marriage’ (sealing), done by the only authority recognized by God, then I don’t want anything to do with the organization that fosters and puts into the minds of its membership these dastardly concepts. When these same persons *look down at me* with smug arrogance suggesting that I’m ‘second class’ and can only hope to be an administering angel in the eternities instead of gods, like they will be, then I’m outa there. Those beliefs and attitudes have no more to do with the spirit of Christ than the man in the moon. And if an apologist responds with a ‘Well, that’s some errant members’ beliefs, but it’s not what the Church teaches,” I say, “Baloney! I’ve been taught to think that way all my life from Primary on up through the ranks.”
Christ said, “The power is within you.” Hence, having someone place their hands on my head ‘giving’ me the only valid power and authority of God is absurd to me now. We all stand equally accountable before God as for our thoughts, words, and deeds, and our place in the eternities as a consequence of these three factors has nothing whatsoever to do with being male or female, or having or not having ‘priesthood authority’.
Sorry for the lengthy comments.
Glenn, I encourage you to read the link about women in ancient Christianity from the OP. Here’s a few excerpts that may change your mind. As you know, Mormons believe that rogue translators changed the Bible, and one mistranslation concersns Junia/Junis.
Like I said, there is more info in the post, but what do you make of these New Testament references?
Vikingz, that sounds like a very nice blessing. I’m sure it was wonderful. It is evident from your writing that you seem to have an “us vs them” slant. It is obvious that you have some strong feelings about your separation from the church, using the term “apologists” leading the “sheeple” in a denigrating manner, while simultaneously elevating your position. Of course you are welcome to believe what you want, and I don’t have a problem with your beliefs. I would just hope that you’d be a little more kind in your characterizations. If I referred to you as one of the lost “sheeple”, I think you would likewise “get a little more than annoyed.” Respect goes both ways. You have denigrated TBM beliefs without them denigrating theirs here. I’m not trying to denigrate your beliefs, but please don’t refer to TBMs as sheeple.
MH, The verse citing Phebe as an example of a deaconess (oe any other priesthood office) is unpersuasive. She is said to be “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.” That generic term can have many interpretations. And, Jeffries is appealing to the very author I used to rebut her arguments.
The case of 1 Timothy 8-11 actually works against the ideathat women were deacons in the New Testament church. I am quoting 8-11 and 12 for good measure, as it is one of the scriptures I used in rebuttal.
1 Timothy Chapter 8:
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Verses 11 and 12 effectively tell us that Paul viewed all deacons as men, else how were they to have wives???
Lydia is not even mentioned as a servant. Only that she was baptized along with her household. It days nothing about her having a husband, so she may indeed been the head of her household, but that is a far cry from holding the priesthood.
In Col 4:15, Nymphas is noted to be a man “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.” There are other variant readings which say in their house, and one, the Vaticanus manuscript which says “her house”. But, in any case, it only sems to mean that there was a small organization, probably a branch, that met in his/her/their house. It still implies nothing about Nymphas holding a priesthood office, be it male or female.
Chloe in 1 Corinthians 1:14 likewise is silent as to Chloe’s connection with the church. “For it hath been declared unto me aof you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are bcontentions among you.” It is really hard to draw an implication for the lady to be a priesthood holder from that. Again, she may have been the head of her household, as no husband is mentioned. That sparse sentence is meager fodder to build any a casefor any type of leadership role in the church.
Stephanas is also another name which is probably a male name. Even so, there is no indication that he/she was a priesthood holder.
The strongest evidence that given, in my estimation, is that of Romans 16:7 “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”
If Junia is indeed a females name, the verse could be interpreted that she was a noted apostle, along with Andronicus, but that is the only verse that mentions them in the New Testament. A more logical reading would be that Andronicus and Junia were well known among the apostles. They surely are not listed elsewhere as being among the apostles.
Bridget Jeffriesis not the first and probably will not be the last to read “priesthood” into those citations. You have already noted that Jeffries cited John Chrysostum as one of her sources, who is only voicing his opinion. He certainly had no apostles about him to confirm his interpretation, unlike today. The strongest evidence is weak at best.
@ Mormon Heretic: You stated, “please don’t refer to TBMs as sheeple,” and I would ask you in a non-arrogant manner (tone of voice, attitude — sincerely), “Why not?”
Your very last sentence was a question: “What are your thoughts?” Well, I took some time out of my day and gave you what you asked for. I realize that for the most part ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and so I suppose insults are as well, but I had no intention of being insulting to anyone — TBMs or otherwise. If any LDS official, home teacher, family member, whomever should ever ask me what my thoughts were about some LDS subject or notions, and it was germane to my answer (my thoughts / conclusuions) to state my opinion that a lot of LDS TBMs are ‘sheeple’, then I would not hesitate in the least to state as much. If the person I was talking to was insulted by my candor, then the problem (their inability to accept an honest answer given with honest and forthright intent in a respectful tone) is with them, not me.
And for the life me I can’t even begin to understand why you would think using the word ‘apologist’ is denigrating, or was leaning in that direction. Also, for the life of me, I can’t understand why you would think I was “elevating my position.” I stated my position — a position that is my opinion, but in what way, or how is it that you perceived that I was “elevating my position”? Hey, Mormon Heretic, are trying to insult *me*? Are you disparaging *me*? I stated, “We all stand ***equally*** accountable before God as for our thoughts, words, and deeds, and our place in the eternities as a consequence of these three factors has nothing whatsoever to do with being male or female, or having or not having ‘priesthood authority.” Hence, how or why is that “elevating my posistion”?
Let’s bring this to a head. I enjoy reading your blogs. You asked for contributing thoughts. I take some time to contribute my thoughts, as you requested. If what you mean, though, by,“What are your thoughts?” is that you’d better be careful that they are thoughts that are in accord with my way of thinking, or writing style, or personality, etc. then please let me know and I’ll ‘move on’ and won’t stress you any more.
Here is a thought that digresses from your latest blog entry about ‘priesthood authority’ (which again, I found to be an interesting read), but may make what I am trying to say a little more clearer: If you think that by me referring to some TMBs (their attitudes, comportments, etc) as being‘sheeple’, then I am, no doubt, perceived as being a ‘wolf’ entering a flock to ravage the ‘sheep’. Now, I ask you: Who should be more insulted, if indeed one was so inclind?
I await your response.
Sheeple is a term in which people are likened to sheep, a herd animal. The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research. They undermine their own individuality and may willingly give up their rights.
Didn’t Christ liken his followers to sheep? Was it for a different reason?
My thoughts broadly. Don’t care if, in mortality, one day women are given the priesthood. Doesn’t pose a threat to me or my manhood. Am not a gospel scholar, but would think if women once actively held the priesthood it would show up in Jewish tradition, be reflected clearly and unambiguously in OT and NT, that Roman Cathollics would have continued the tradtiion, and so forth. Unless there was and is some Grand Conspiracy to cover all of that up. Obscure and unclear references don’t really convince me — yet. Keep wondering why no women, in this or any other dispensation, has had a First Vision type experience with HF or HM, or has had visitations wherein the priesthood was “restored” to women. Agree with G. Thigpen that women in temple act under the authority of the PH. Men and women to “officiate” in the ordinances of the AP and MP at a certain point in the Endowment. Not 100% sure what that means. Could be a type of shadow of how we’ll officiate in the next life.
I don’t mind debating you on the previous post about women in ancient Christianity. In fact, I may copy the relevant comments there so that we may continue that discussion there, but I think it is off topic here. Let’s debate there and keep this on modern day priestesses or Mormon Doctrine.
I don’t know if I have properly welcomed you. I enjoy your comments. As you will see I enjoy respectful debate, and welcome differing points of view. Your comments have been well thought out, and I encourage you to stay. If you look into my archives, you will see that Glenn and Tara are generally on the conservative side of our theology, and I often disagree with them. Zelph and Bishop Rick (and yourself) seem to be on the more NOM side of our theology, and I welcome them though disagree with them on occasion too. Bishop Rick hasn’t commented here for a year, but he and I attended Sunstone together despite our disagreements on theology.
I don’t know you very well; perhaps I misunderstood your intent. Howard posted the exact definition of Sheeple from Wikipedia. The term implies that sheeple are “without critical analysis or research”, whereas your comment seemed to suggest that you have superior critical analysis or research. Perhaps that was not your intent, but it sounded to me that the apologists and TBMs were basically dumb, while you are smart. Now maybe that wasn’t your intent, but that was how I interpreted it. That’s why I thought it was not respectful. If that was not your intention, then I’m sorry I misunderstood your intent.
I never said you were a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I am a bit stunned at the visceral accusation. You seem primed for a fight. While I enjoy debating, I am not here to call you a wolf or TBMs dumb. You may well feel that way, but calling someone dumb or a wolf is not what I want here. You’ll see me and Glenn debate spiritedly, but I won’t call him dumb or a sheeple.
Now Howard brings up a good point. Jesus refers to the sheep that know the shepherd. They know his voice. They are his sheep. The are godly. If you want to refer to people following Christ as the Lord’s sheep, that has a completely different connotation than sheeple.
I’m a bit surprised with your last comment about staying or leaving ultimatum. It seems I hit a nerve that I had no intention of hitting, You’re welcome to stay and comment or you’re welcome to leave. I enjoy your participation.
MH, I apologize for taking the thread off on a tangent. I was following one of your links. It does seem pertinent to this thread, but I will respect your wishes. I would be glad to debate the subject on your other blog, although I think that we may already be at the old impasse.
As far as Mormon Doctrine and priestesses is concerned, I don’t think that this is “another incorrect policy”. But, it like all other policies, may be subject to change. I do believe that any agitation for change should be carried out in a respectful manner. I don’t think that the great Women Wearing Pants to Church on Sunday was very respectful, albeit it was a pretty harmless gesture.
As I noted in a previous post, I would accept women ordination if it comes via revelation. But I also have noted that God often does things for which He gives no reason. Such was the case when he took the priesthood from among the Children of Israel in general and vested it exclusively with the tribe of Levi. And even then, it was only the Levitical priesthood. If you remember there was a group of people agitating for the priesthood back then, and they were of the tribe of Levi. They evidently wanted more than just the Levitical priesthood. God’s answer was a resounding no, with no explanations given, either before or after the rebellion.
However, I do not believe that the women who want the priesthood are wrong in such desires. We are told in the Doctrine and Covenants and by Paul in the New Testament to earnestlyseek or covet the best gifts, and are given the reasons that we should do so, which is the building up the Kingdom of God.
The main thing is that we learn what the will of God is in this matter. And it may not be a matter of women agitating for itpublicly, but a matter of fervent prayer and fasting in order for the Lord to so move, if that is His will.
To support that contention, I will cite the case of Cornelius in the New Testament. He was a Roman Centurion and a righteous man who prayed continually. It was in connection with those prayers that Peter received his vision essentially directing him to take the gospel to Cornelius and eventually the Gentiles in general.
I am not praying myself forthis to happen or not to happen. I do really want to know what the will of the Lord is in the matter. He will let us know in His own due time.
Meanwhile we have a history of the priesthood being a patriarchal order. Many prophets have said that it isthe way God has set it up, including our modern day prophets. So, it may not be something that will be changed in this mortal existence, or even in the next. I don’t know.
I do know that as of now, the policy is correct.
And it may not be a matter of women agitating for it publicly, but a matter of fervent prayer and fasting in order for the Lord to so move… Glenn, there are a number of post Joseph Smith examples of agitation working, please cite a post Joseph Smith example of fervent prayer and fasting by members that resulted in God approaching an LDS prophet (not the other way around) to change something of this magnitude.
Howard, please post your examples of post Joseph Smith agitation affecting a policy of this magnitude, and the evidence for it.
It was not outside agitation or agitaiton from below that brought about the revelation of the priesthood ban. In this case, it was the leadership of the church that did the “agitating”. However, I am sure that therewere more than a few blacks and whites that were praying fervently for the change to come about. I think that therewere many people praying for a solution to the problem of the many people in Africa that had embraced the Gospel and those in Brazil with mixed ancestry who had joined the church.
The change in the policy on polygamy was forced by the U.S. government, so I guess that you could define that as “agitation”. However, there was agitation in the early church concerning and against polygamy. That principle was upheld and practiced until ceased by revelation.
However, I am not constrained by your insistence that I restrict my examples to the post Joseph Smith era. There are more scriptural examples that I could point out.
However, I will give you an example of New Testament agitation that led to the a clarification of policy. Remember the case of Gentile converts at Antioch. Some of the Jewish convertsfrom Judea had travelled to Antioch and were preaching that the Gentile converts were supposed to be circumcized. That caused no little disputations, so Paul and Barnabas took the matter to the church leadership in Jerusalem. Of course, we know what happened. The agitations of the agitators were denied and the Gentiles were not required to become circumcized.
The question of ordination of women has been asked, and answered by living prophets. That does not mean that it cannot change. But it does mean that the current policy is the current will of God.
“…TBMs just follow along without any duress, or questioning — the ‘sheeple’.”
Howard quoted Wiki:
“…those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research. They undermine their own individuality and may willingly give up their rights.”
You and I know that many TBMs fall into this category as described above. It’s an observable, academic, sociological *fact*. However, there are other types of TBMs that don’t fall into this category, and this too is an academic, sociological fact. I have no problem admitting to an error in that I should have been more exacting and quantified my statement by prefacing it with the adjective ‘many’. Perhaps that would have softened my comment to appear less pejorative.
Nevertheless, this is my ‘opinion’ of what I would adamantly assert as being a ‘fact’ with regard to ‘many’ TBMs. And to reiterate, if I was ever to be in conversation with a TBM ‘sheeple’ (because of his or her well-established comportment, statements, previous conversations, etc), and there came a point in the conversation whereby it was germane to state that he or she was, then I would do so (with hopefully a quiet, matter-of-fact demeanor).
And if he or she responded, “How dare you insult me like that!” I would attempt to clarify by saying, “I’m just stating what I perceive. Don’t get your knickers in a knot. If you do feel insulted, then I would respectfully suggest that you may want to consider another way of being a believing member of the Church. It might enlighten and refresh your membership. It might help you to understand and consequently be more empathetic towards those who do not share in your unquestioning ardor towards everything that comes from GC, Church headquarters, the Ensign, GA’s statements, or for that matter, what authorities say at the more local levels. Perhaps you may want to consider that it’s okay — Jesus isn’t going to send you to ‘outer darkness’ — that it’s even healthy and righteous to think, question and even dissent against something you feel strongly about that is wrong.”
To pick up on what Howard asked (good questions), what first comes to my mind is Jesus’ proclamation, “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is one of my considered ‘truths’ that Jesus is the Sheppard, and I have no problem trying to follow Him as one of His sheep or ‘sheeple’. I have complete trust in Him. I may contemplate (a form of questioning) about something in the New Testament, the Nag Hammadi, the Dead Sea scrolls, etc, in order to determine for myself (by reason hopefully augmented by personal revelation — ‘the light of truth’) what He meant, or if in fact it really was what Jesus said, or how he said it, however, when push comes to shove I hope I will always have the courage and Christian dedication to follow *Him* unquestioningly. But this status is reserved only for the Christ, not TSM, not a GA, or anyone else (and especially some LDS bishops, or their underlings, from my long experience). I know that in LDS scripture it states, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” but that only contributed to things like the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Willy handcart episode, and numerous other egregious situations in LDS history and and current goings-on. “Follow the prophet?” I follow Christ. And I don’t need institutionalized priesthood power and authority to do that, which leads to me say, to your no doubt relief, enough on this subject.
Hence, about priesthood power and authority, I was taught that the definition was (to paraphrase): ‘the power and authority to act in the name of God for the salvation and blessing of all mankind.’
Okay, so here’s what I think about this. First of all what is ‘salvation’? How is one ‘saved’ in the sense that Jesus wants us to be? What gender can only do the saving? The first thing that comes to mind is when Jesus said, “Believe on me.” Hence, is priesthood power and authority required to do this? I don’t think it is, and its gender neutral.
He also said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.”. What does this mean? The Mormons and a lot of other Christian denominations have their interpretations. There are many readily accessible sources on the Internet that both agree and disagree about what Jesus meant. I won’t take the time to put forth my views on this subject, but in short, I really have my doubts that ‘priesthood power and authority’ ***by someone who has had this ‘conferred’ upon him by virtue of a succession of previous conferees*** is a requirement for validating a person’s Christian baptism. And I think its premisses are gender neutral.
What I do consider more important and ‘powerful’ than an institutionalized priesthood, is faith. Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” That’s power enough for me without the need for priesthood. That makes everything possible (“…and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”) even for entering into the Kingdom of God — my salvation and blessing without the need for an institutionalized priesthood. And it is totally gender neutral.
So herein lies the rub. I have undergone a major paradigm shift with regard to ALL religious institutions and especially my ‘alma mater’ one — Mormonism. As I study ancient, sacred texts, and not just those that pertain to Christianity, although more particularly Christian exegesis, I feel the effects of “the truth shall make you free” more than I ever had as a TBM. I feel truly liberated in a lot ways, and more in tune with the spirit of Christ instead of the letter and dogma of Christ. So, to ponder over the importance what the LDS church, what McKonkie said, etc, about LDS notions of priesthood that pertain to my personal salvation, is really beyond moot for me now.
Like I said at the very beginning, “Someone once said that the Mormon church has an amazing ability to constantly re-invent itself,” and so my interest is only to extent of following a soap opera. It’s not anti-Mormon; it’s not pro-Mormon; it’s just from the point of view that I was extensively ‘Mormonized’ for most of my life and as a result of this I have a residual interest and like to share some of my past experiences and thoughts that some people may find to be of interest. And hopefully I can manage to do this without offending anyone (or boring them to tears).
What are the verifiable, proven examples of post JS agitation based changes? In my 33 year adult membership in the church I can think of none. I think the priesthood change was a result of many years of prayer and fasting by leaders and members. I have observed many administrative and policy changes over the years but don’t think any of them came about as a result of open, consistent, and vocal agitation. I’m curious to know instances where agitation resulted in a doctrinal change.
Sorry. Was so slow typing on iPad I missed G. Thigpen. Seems we had the same question.
It was not outside agitation or agitaiton from below that brought about the revelation of the priesthood ban. Are you arguing the Civil Rights movement was simply coincidental? How do you account for the roughly 100 years of revelatory science on the issue between Brigham and the Civil Rights movement during which that the church was obviously astray on this issue?
The change in the policy on polygamy was forced by the U.S. government, so I guess that you could define that as “agitation”. I guess it could, couldn’t it? Maybe just barely squeaks in there?
The question of ordination of women has been asked, and answered by living prophets. It sure has President Hinckley allowed that it could be changed but there wasn’t enough agitation at the time. There’s more now so we appear to be headed in the right direction.
Your blindered instance on defending the indefensible, dodging and weaving in the face of the obvious is a total waste of time so I will just cut to the more than obvious chase. Why would anyone use fervent prayer and fasting when agitation has been acknowledged by President Hinckley and been demonstrated to help our prophets find their knees and prayer voice on the issue?
Of course we have different interpretations of the same scriptures and events, but I definitely must side with Howard regarding agitation for change. Every single revelation Joseph received was because someone agitated for change. Joseph agitated to know which church was true, and we got the First Vision. Emma agitated for change that she didn’t have to clean up tobacco spit, and we got the Word of Wisdom. Oliver agitated for change to translate the Book of Mormon and we got D&C 9 (albeit not what Oliver was looking for.) I would suggest that EVERY agitation for change brought forth a revelation.
Your representation of the revelation on blacks is poor. This particular topic is one of my favorites, and I have researched it considerably. Click on “Priesthood Ban” and you will find that I reference it quite a bit. In the 1960s, Civil Rights was a big issue, and the NAACP tried to picket General Conference over the issue of black priesthood holders. As a result, Pres McKay authorized Hugh Brown to defuse the situation by giving a statement that the Church was in favor of civil rights, and this later became the official church position. (Greg Prince and Edward Kimball describe these events and I have already blogged about them.) Additionally, many of the Pac-8 schools such as Stanford and Cal refused to play BYU in athletic events because of the black priesthood ban. President Benson called the Civil Rights movement a “communist conspiracy”, adding pressure on the Church and probably prompting the NAACP reaction. He also stoked the flames when he claimed that black terrorists were planning on bombing Salt Lake City. Certainly there was considerable pressure brought to bear on the Church regarding the racist policy.
In 1969 the majority of the Q12 voted to rescind the ban. Harold B. Lee returned and vetoed the measure, and the ban stayed in place. Without agitation, why would the Q12 even have considered removing the ban?
Your reference to Paul in Antioch seems just plain wrong. It was the gentiles agitating for a change in policy concerning circumcision. Previous to that, all Christian converts needed to be circumcised. As an adult male, circumcision was obviously a big deal, and few gentiles desired to be circumcised. Paul was a leading voice agitating for change.
There are way more examples of agitation leading to revelation than no agitation. No agitation leads to the status quo, because why is there a need for revelation?
revelatory silence not science
Howard and Glenn, you should get a really cool gravatar to go along with your comments: http://en.gravatar.com/
Howard, You said “Why would anyone use fervent prayer and fasting when agitation has been acknowledged by President Hinckley and been demonstrated to help our prophets find their knees and prayer voice on the issue?”
Because it is the way that the Lord has prescribed for us to get answers.
MH, My choice of the priesthood ban is pretty appropriate. The height of the Civil Rights protests happened during the sixties. During the early seventies there was a backlash against the Civil Rights movement. with many people feeling that it had gone too far and was getting away from rights and demanding privileges. The 1978 Bakke decision was part of that backlash. Also, in the late sixties protesta against the Vietnam War were waxing in intensity and number, over shadowing the Civil Rights movement. Information that you and others have provided show the leaderships growing concern for the people in Africa and Brazil and how the ban was affecting the growth of the church.
I think that if you reread Acts on the Gentile circumcision thing you will find that I am correct. Acts 15:1 “And certain men which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be acircumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
It does not seem that there was a policy towards the gentiles having to undergo circumcision. It was the contention of those from Judaea that came in and brought the matter up, which Paul and Barnabas disputed. It was then decided to take the matter to the leadership in Jerusalem. And we know the results of that.
Yes, there have been “agitations” from within the church that have had the had some profound effects on the church. And, as you noted, they were not all positive. The loss of the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon is a glaring example. Not only did Martin Harris agitate for permission to show the pages to his wife, he continued to agitate for it, in spite of repeated denials. He was not content to take no for an answer, and there is no record of him praying himself to know the will and mind of the Lord. The results of this were almost disastrous. But the Lord had forseen this and prepared for it.
If Martin Harris had humbled himself and prayed fervently to the Lord on the matter, odds are that the results would have been much different. We won’t know in this life probably. So I can only speculate.
I offeredthe example of Cornelius as a guide, a standard if you will, upon how to effectively petition the Lord.
1 There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
In response to the prayersof Cornelius, God gave Peter the vision which resulted in the gospel being taken to the Gentiles, with Cornelius and his family being the first recipients.
Oh yes, there were other agitaions in the Bible, and those did not always turn out too well either. Remember in the Old Testament when the Children of Israel wanted a king? They were warned of the consequences, but they would not listen. They wanted a king and agitated until God granted them a king, and the negative consequences began with the very first king.
The people doing the agitating did not humbly and prayerfully seek the mind and will of the Lord. Instead they agitated for something they wanted, and after it was finally granted, they paid for it dearly.
That is why I am advocating that those who feel that women should be ordained should seek the Lord’s will in fervent prayer, in complete humility, and with the desire to conform their will and desire to that which the Lord wants. That is the safe and sure way.
Glenn, so Hinckley was wrong?
I’ve been thinking about this topic lately (the nature of the authority by which women officiate in temple ordinances, etc…) and wonder how it interacts with Doctrine & Covenants section 131, which refers to temple marriage as an “order of the priesthood”. My question: are female temple ordinance workers required to first be married in the temple? What does the characterization of temple marriage as an “order of the priesthood” mean in the broader question of the priesthood blessings of women?
Glenn, your answer is vague. I know you disagree with Howard, but your answer could be construed to agree with Howard. Your answer could be construed as saying “Because [agitation] is the way that the Lord has prescribed for us to get answers.”
The Parable of the Unjust Judge comes to mind. God does grant us our desires if we pester him enough. The question then becomes, did God make a mistake in granting blacks the priesthood? Did we pester God so much that he gave us what WE wanted, and was the 1978 revelation against God’s will?
I think we agree that the 1978 revelation was God’s will, but it sure seems that some non-members received that revelation decades before 1978. Then the question becomes why did it take “the Brethren” so long to ascertain God’s will when people like Martin Luther King (who Benson called a Communist) received the revelation much sooner. Why did Sterling McMurrin explain in 1955 that the black ban was not doctrinal, but Mark E. Peterson and Bruce R. McConkie claimed that it was in 1958? Why was McMurrin ahead of the curve, and McConkie behind the curve? See my post where Greg Prince describes McMurrin (and many other events concerning the ban): https://mormonheretic.org/2008/09/14/was-priesthood-ban-inspired/
Concerning your discussion of circumcision, I just think your representation of events shows limited knowledge of first century Christianity. The fact of the matter is that prior to the meeting in Antioch, ALL Christians were required to be circumcised first. Christianity immediately after the death of Christ was seen as merely a Jewish sect, and therefore Christians needed to obey all Jewish laws, ESPECIALLY circumcision. Some gentiles wanted to join and did submit to circumcision, but most gentiles did not want to be circumcised. They agitated for change. Paul championed their agitation. Peter received his vision because of the gentile agitation for change. I don’t see how you can argue this any other way. To argue otherwise shows that you really haven’t studied first century Christianity.
(As a side note, Christians became separate from Jews following the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-136 AD. Jews claimed that Simon Bar Kochba (or Kokhba) was the messiah, leading to a bloody siege of Jerusalem. Christians claimed Bar Kochba couldn’t be the messiah because Jesus had already come. That’s when Christians ceased being identified as Jews. Certainly Bar Kochba could be one of the “false Christs” prophesied in the Bible.)
are female temple ordinance workers required to first be married in the temple?
Roger, that is a great question. I’m pretty sure the answer is no. I have been told that the only requirement to be a temple worker is a current temple recommend. Therefore, any sister that has been endowed is worthy and able to serve in the temple. However, the church discourages women with young children at home to serve. See http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705379963/Draper-Utah-Temple-needs-workers.html?pg=all
There are 2 types of temple workers: ordinance workers, and veil workers. Veil workers merely work at the veil. I know several single young men, recently returned missionaries are often called to work at the veil. Ordinance workers typically are married, but they do not have to be. A temple president told me that the only requirement is to have a valid temple recommend.
What does the characterization of temple marriage as an “order of the priesthood” mean in the broader question of the priesthood blessings of women?
Often left out in the discussion of the black priesthood ban is the temple ban on black members that existed. It is my belief that Brigham Young instituted the priesthood/temple ban as a means to stop interracial marriages that were happening in the 1840s. Temple ceremonies are inseparably connected with priesthood. That’s why the 1978 revelation opened up not only priesthood offices to black men, but priesthood ordinances to black women in the temple as well. While the offices of the priesthood get the most publicity, the removal of the temple ban on black women is just as significant.
The marriage/sealing ceremony certainly is a priesthood ordinance, and I think we often don’t fully understand the priesthood ramifications of the temple. As I mentioned before, Michael Quinn argues that the endowment ceremony grants women the priesthood, though not a priesthood office like a man. As I study the temple more, I am more inclined to agree with Quinn. Stapley argues that blessings have been inappropriately conflated with the priesthood–and I think Stapley is right too.
When we are sealed, one of the priesthood blessings we receive is the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’m not sure what to make of “order of the priesthood.” Guy Templeton at Wheat and Tares asked about the true order of prayer, and I’m not exactly sure what to make of that phraseology, though it is similar.
MH, I don’t wish to engage in a priesthood ban discussion again. At least not on this thread. I just made note that at the time of the 1978 revelation the external clamor for blacks to be ordained from the priesthood was greatly muted and there were other causes that were causing much more controversy in the U.S. We both were sentient beings during thosetime periods. I do recall the protests that happened in the sixties. I also recall the Vietnam protests of the latter sixties and the relative calm that ensued after the withdrawal from Vietnam, then the sudden gas sticker shock.
I am going to have to ask for references on first century Christianity, Gentiles, and circumcision. You assert that all Gentiles who accepted Christ had to be circumcised before the council in Jerusalem around 50 A.D. I can find no scriptural basis for the assertion and have not been able to find secular confirmation.
There is nothing said about Cornelius being circumcised. Timothy, the son an unbelieving Greek and a Jewish mother and one of Paul’s companions was circumcized by Paul because of Timothy’s part Jewish ancestry. When the matter came to the council.
Reading Acts 15:24 seems also to indicate that nothing of the kind had been promoted or expected. (Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:)
This was part of the letter that was sent to the different branches of the church after the council explaining that circumcision was not required of the Gentiles and that the apostles had authorized no one to preach such a doctrine.
Now, if you can provide some definitive sources to the contrary, I will be glad to peruse them. Else, the scriptures that we do have, would seem to prevail and do not support your assertion.
Sig, and we have yet again gone astray from the op of the thread.
This from Wikipedia: Brit Milah (covenant of circumcision)
So, circumcision is still a requirement for converts to Judaism. That hasn’t changed in a several millennia.
Wikipedia also mentions the Circumcision controversy in Christianity.
Feel free to check the Wikipedia references if you think this is not a reliable source.
MH, Thanks for the pointers. I have already checked out the wikipedia and more. I am in agreement that converts to Judaism were required to submit to circumcision. But we are not talking about that. We are talking about conversion to Christianity.
I do not know who would have viewed the early gentile Christians as Jewish sect. Certainly not the Jews in the foreign communities such as Thessalonica. Remember the uproar that ensued there among the unbelieving Jews when Paul was preaching in the synagogue?
Glenn, surely you understand that Jesus was a Jew. They didn’t magically flip a switch and reject all Jewish customs immediately. The revelation to Peter that gentiles were no longer unclean, and the dietary restrictions were lifted with the same vision. That vision was a really big deal in separating Jews and Christians. The earliest Christians observed all Jewish dietary laws, circumcision, etc.
There’s an awesome video from PBS called “The First Christians.” It is several hours long, but in that video it states that early Christians were considered a Jewish sect (like Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducces, etc). There are transcripts available if you would prefer to read it, but it is long. I’ll try to come up with a better reference, but if you want to study early Christianity, I think it’s an awesome resource. The video and transcripts are available online.
I would have thought that D&C 107 and the Patriarchal of the Priesthood was really clear — even if you never cite and ignore it. This is the revelation which must be dealt with regarding women and the priesthood. It does no good to cite all kinds of very ambiguous uses of priesthood authority when we have a pretty straightforward statement to the contrary.
The arguments regarding women serving as deaconesses in the NT are very unpersuasive to me — I would classify these interpretive gymnastics and arguments as quite desperate. I would love it if the New Testament evidence could establish such female prerogatives, but alas it does not.
MH, I truly understand that Jesus was a Jew and was circumcised when He was eight days old (Luke 2:21). And I agree that they didnot flip a switch and drop all Jewish customs immediately. Indeed, Paul still adhered to many Jewish traditions himself. I also agree that the earliest Christians were circumcised, as they were all Jews. Cornelius is the first Gentile baptism recorded in the scriptures.
As to the Christians being considered another Jewish sect, just who were those that considered them as such. Probably the Roman government. As I have pointed out, the local Jews in the foreign communities in which Paul preached hardly considered the Christians as Jews, especially the Greek converts.
I will have to obtain the transcripts of that PBS documentary. My hearing isso bad that I can understand but littleof normal human speech. I will not respond further until I have read some of those transcripts.
Yes, the Roman government considered Christians were Jews at first, though that changed by the 2nd century. Jews also considered Christians were just an offshoot of Judiasm at first. During the Bar Kochba rebellion, Jews asked Christians to join them in throwing off Rome. Christians refused because they did not believe Simon Bar Kochba was the messiah. The vision of Peter and the Bar Kochba rebellion were 2 turning points in separating Jews from Christians. Certainly Jews would have viewed Peter’s vision as heretical.
D&C 107 … is the revelation which must be dealt with regarding women and the priesthood.
I read the entire section today and I fail to see your point. I don’t see an explicit prohibition of women and priesthood. Can you explain what exactly we need to deal with?
Great discussion. This is a topic my wife and I have discussed previously. When i was on my mission abt 20 years ago. This was a topic that was of great concern in my mission( south Australia). due to there being a lot of pagans in the area who had found that the church had something to offer them and were looking at joining but where concerned about there being no females in the priesthood. There was a document that had apparently been penned by a GA that addressed there concerns. At the time I wasn’t really interested in the issue, But have regretted ever since not getting a copy of that document.
My memories of my one read through of the document are as follows.
1. The GA’s are aware of the issue but it is not yet the time for women actively to have the priesthood.
2. Women already have access to the priesthood. through husbands, fathers and Brothers, meaning they can if needed use there husbands priesthood in an emergency if he is not there. eg by the power of the holy priesthood that my husband holds I ect.
3. They were admonished to be faithful yet patient that if it was the lords will for women to actively have the priesthood it would be revealed when the time was right.
4. I also vaguely remember there being references to women already having the priesthood cause they could perform ordinances in the temple.
I have a pretty good memory but some of the details could not be 100% right.
Read this in a Norwegian newspaper at Easter, perttaining women priesthood and the new Catholic Pope.
Here from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junia
Thanks for the link Canute. That was great. “That Junia was a woman is seldom contested today among Christian theologians.” The reference is Nicole, Roger. “The Inerrancy of Scripture.” Priscilla Papers, Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring 2006.