...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The priesthood and me (one woman's view)

I am not exactly a feminist, let me just get that out of the way from the very beginning.

That said, I am actually pretty proud of my gender and the life I have because I am a woman.

I love being female.  It is a gigantic part of who I am as a person and that one, simple genetic fact greatly affects my daily choices and views.  I love that this lady label of mine gives me the opportunity to be a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend in a way that is different than the roles I see my husband fill.  His position as father, brother, son, and husband are not more or less important than my roles, but they aren't the same as my roles either. 

Being different does not make either one of us lesser or greater (just like five pounds of grapes and five pounds of apples carry equal weight even though they are not the same).  We are each confident and assertive about our particular positions in our relationship and life.  We function as partners, neither one more important than the other, but also neither one exactly the same as the other.  We come together to make choices and listen to each other when problems in our family arise.  To be honest, I am the more vocal and dominant partner when it comes to our family life.  At home, for the most part, I run the show. 

Josh is great to support me in that, but he thinks for himself (which is sometimes annoying when it gets in the way of what I think).  He is willing to put his foot forward when he thinks things are headed in the wrong direction or that there is a better way to handle something.  That’s when we put our heads together and work out a plan we can both be comfortable with.  Sometimes it takes some arguing to get to that point.  Sometimes we get there without opinion spikes and disagreements.  Either way, we don’t more forward until we both clearly see the vision of what we believe will be best for our family.

As you know, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have been watching closely as my church has been pulled into the media arena of late and labeled as sexist and discriminatory.  Some women feel that because they are not able to personally hold the priesthood (the power of God on Earth) they are being left out and set aside.  To some degree, I understand how those who aren’t a part of this church can buy into that.  It might seem chauvinistic and unfair.

However, for those who have lived this religion and been neck deep in the doctrines and truths surrounding it, it is harder for me to understand how they, even as women, can feel so slighted and unimportant. 

Yes, the roles of men and women in this church are different, but neither one is of lesser importance than the other.  Both are endowed with power and authority through the priesthood.  (To better understand the views of the church regarding the priesthood and this issue please read this article…it explains things beautifully.)

It is through the powers of the priesthood that ALL things are done in this church.  When anyone – man or woman – is asked to serve, hands are laid on their head by one holding priesthood authority and they are given the rights and powers to act, to teach, to lead within that sphere. 

I have access to the priesthood just as much as my husband does even though he holds it and I do not.  He can no more lay his hands on his own head to bless or guide or discern things for himself than I can.  The priesthood is a powerful piece of God’s plan for us on Earth and this sacred power is equally available to every member of God’s family whether they are male or female. 

Over the years, I have had many chances to serve in positions in this church.  I have held leadership roles from time to time and have ALWAYS been accepted and listened to by my priesthood leaders.  I have been part of the decision making counsels within my ward and have ALWAYS felt like my thoughts and feelings and inspiration and ideas were taken seriously.  In fact, on many occasions, I believe my insights were earnestly sought after because I am female.  Those in leadership roles WANTED my view so that they could more fully understand the big picture and know which direction we, as a ward, should move.   As a sweet man said to me recently, “Priesthood holders may be the head, but the women are the neck.  We desperately need both.”

I was a valuable part of those counsels and was treated with reverence and respect as I functioned within them.

My husband has also had the chance to serve in leadership roles within our church.    I cannot tell you how many times over the years he has been faced with a concern or problem and has come to me -- as his wife -- for suggestions and guidance.  Even now, as the bishop, he looks for my insight with issues our ward is facing.  He VALUES the fact that I have a different view than he does.  He has often used my perceptions to broaden his perspective and help him get a better handle on situations. I did the same with him when I was the one in a leadership role.  His insights were a great blessing to me as well.

My thoughts and feelings are not discounted or ignored simply because of my gender.  I am invited and encouraged to function in priesthood power even though I am not male.

Now, I am not implying that no priesthood holder has ever overlooked or ignored the views of women around him.  In fact, I am absolutely certain that that has happened.  I am certain that that has happened in almost every arena in the world at one time or another.  It is inappropriate wherever and whenever it happens.  Discriminating against an essential and insightful gender is simply wrong.  No one is of lesser value or worth because they were born male or female.  Both sexes are of immense, eternal importance.

But they are not identical and we shouldn’t expect them to be.

Women are not called on to hold the priesthood, but they have complete access to its power.  They are not left out any more than men are because men do not have the chance to be mothers and relief society presidents and young women leaders and primary presidency members.  We each have DIFFERENT roles, but each role is vital.

Within our church, God has authorized worthy men to be the bearers of the priesthood.  They are given the charge to act within that sphere to bless the lives of God’s children.  The priesthood they hold can only be used to bless the lives of others – both men and women – not to elevate or magnify themselves. 

Men cannot choose to bestow the priesthood on women because it is not their priesthood to give.  It is God’s.  He has given the duty of stewardship to His sons.  That is their role.

But He has not forgotten his daughters.  He has given them the stewardship to nurture and guide and create and correct within their world.  They are of deepest value to Him.  Their role is not of less importance, it is just different.

I am a woman.  I am proud of that.  I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am proud of that too.  Those two facts are not at odds for me.  They are each crucially important in my soul.  They are each a fundamental part of who I am.  

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