There is an interesting post over at Wheat and Tares by Guy Templeton. He first asks about whether female temple workers hold priesthood, writing
In nearly all blessings and ordinances, priesthood members perform the blessing or ordinance under the “authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” I noticed recently at the temple that the ordinances are performed merely “by authority.” As I understand it, women repeat words nearly identical to men when performing initiatory rites. There has been some debate about whether women actually hold the priesthood when performing temple ordinances. Elder Oaks recently said “With the exception of the sacred work that sisters do in the temple under the keys held by the temple president, which I will describe hereafter, only one who holds a priesthood office can officiate in a priesthood ordinance. All authorized priesthood ordinances are recorded on the records of the church.”
Guy concludes with a poll asking “Is this why the words “Melchizedek Priesthood” are absent from temple ordinances?” As of the writing of this post, 67% responded “I don’t know”, 17% said yes, and 16% said no.
The next poll question asks “Do female temple workers hold priesthood authority, or is this simply proxy authority from the temple president (as if the president were performing the ordinance instead of the woman)?” 38% believe women serve as priesthood proxies, 34% say women have a different type of priesthood, 14% say women hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, and 14% say “I don’t know.”
The comments have been equally interesting.
Geoff – Aus writes “In the endowment both men and women wear the robes of the priesthood on the right sholder, “so they can officiate in the ordinances of the melchizedek. So yes women do hold the priesthood in their own right.”
IDIAT disagrees writing
Handbook 2. …..Priesthood keys are bestowed on presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents. …
All ward and stake auxiliary organizations operate under the direction of the bishop or stake president, who holds the keys to preside. Auxiliary presidents and their counselors do not receive keys. They receive delegated authority to function in their callings.
Temple presidents are given keys. They in turn set apart temple workers. I think, analogous to stake and ward auxiliary leaders, female temple workers receive delegated authority. So I guess I would say they serve as proxies. They don’t ‘hold’ the priesthood in the traditional sense by way of confirmation, but are given the authority of it so their acts may be binding and valid.
I noted that “The baptismal prayer isn’t explicitly offered under either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood, but rather by one “commissioned of Jesus Christ.””
My wife and I were called as Temple Workers in the Los Angeles Temple a few years ago. I was with my wife, I was set apart. My wife was given the PH by one of the counselors in the Temple Presidency (my post said Temple President but it was one of his counselors – dont think that makes any difference) and she was set apart.. Hands were laid on her head. With regards to citing by what authority I do not recall exact wording, just that we had a discussion about what happened and the counselor explained women are given the PH because they are performing PH ordinances in the Temple. It could not have been made clearer to me. I have discussed this with my wife and other members (men and women) and they agree that women are given the PH to enable them to perform these sacred ordinances. With regard to other comments made above: Temple Workers do not work as proxies. Patrons are the proxies. A Sunday School teacher does not have authority to perform PH ordinances no matter how hard a Bishop may try to delegate his keys. Keys and authority are two different things. Many words in these posts need definitions otherwise a lot of misunderstanding will take place. PH is conferred, one is ordained to a PH office after the PH is conferred. My wife was not ordained to a PH office. There is only one PH, it is the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. I am not prepared to give a Sunday School lesson on this subject and dont wish to imply that I know it all. But there is good material on lds(dot)org. With regards to keys: who has the keys to the resurrection? With regards to the new films. Yes, the wording is the same but there are images no one has ever seen before in those films giving new emphasis and meaning and intent to those words….
Clearly there is no consensus on the issue.
I’ve been pretty vocal that I support Kate Kelly and Ordain Women on my blog. Kate has been pushing for priesthood equality and asking the prophet to seek revelation on the subject of female ordination. Others have also brought up the inherent sexism in the temple ceremony. The last few comments brought an interesting side note regarding the sexism. Sarah said “So, to be clear, we women wear the robes and garments of the priesthood, are conferred and thereby receive signs, tokens, and keywords of the Aaronic and Melchizedec priesthood, all in this life (after the garden and before the veil). It’s right there in front of us and still we refuse to accept it.”
Jettboy explained that priesthood in the next life will be different from priesthood in this life, but noted the inherent sexism (though I’m sure he wouldn’t have couched it in those terms.) He said,
Ah, but Sarah, there is even with those “conferrals” a God, then man, and then woman hierarchical structure taught within the Temple. Assuming that isn’t the case (and I believe it is), the final outcome isn’t going to be the leadership structure of Teacher, Priest, or President we think of with the Aaronic and Melchizedek ordinations. Authority has nothing to do with it, but blessings of the eternities. The highest callings will be King or Queen of our own Kingdoms; and that only as a promised conditional in this life.
This led me to say,
I think you bring up a good point that the highest callings in the eternities will be different. I think it is an excellent point.
On the other hand, “then man, and then woman hierarchical structure taught within the Temple” clearly disagrees with Nephi’s idea that “all are alike unto God, male and female….” If man is hierarchically above woman, then all are not alike, nor equal. This is why people complain the temple is sexist. I don’t know how anyone can argue that men and women are equal in the temple ceremony when clearly the temple ceremony shows a hierarchy that is unequal. Clearly the men are elevated in hierarchy above women.
I understand that this point is off-topic of the post, but your comment clearly illustrates the inequality inherent in the temple endowment, and I think it should be clearly pointed out for those who say that the endowment is not sexist. I think your comment clearly illustrates the sexism within the temple, and I think you are right in your interpretation. I, on the other hand, wish the temple ceremony was changed to get rid of the sexism.
When blacks were allowed into the temple, the temple ceremony didn’t need to be changed. Perhaps if women are allowed to hold priesthood office, the temple ceremony may need some dramatic alterations. Surely a revelation on priesthood for women would simultaneously require changes in the temple ceremony. With the new movies leaving the dialogue essentially unchanged, I’m not hopeful that either the temple ceremony or female priesthood will change under the current prophet.
So, I bring a few questions for you, and would like you to comment on them, as well as answer the poll questions.