Saturday, March 8, 2014

Women and the Priesthood

If you are on social media these days you have probably seen a lot of links to blog posts, newspaper articles, and various statements about LDS women and the Priesthood. Women have been using the priesthood inside and outside of the temple for years and years. I feel like I use the Priesthood on a daily basis. It is so sad to me that women feel "less than" and unfulfilled if they are not the ones at the pulpit conducting Sacrament Meeting or laying hands on the head of their child to give a blessing. Because I am an endowed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am accessing Priesthood power when I gather my family to pray, to search the scriptures, or to have Family Night. I am activating Priesthood power when I use the knowledge and blessings I received in the temple to manage and direct my career. I am blessed with priesthood power when I make decisions with the help of the Holy Ghost and the strength of my temple covenants. I have been blessed with Priesthood power when I have prayed at the bedside of my child when she was suffering from a terrible illness. I have been able to call down heaven's power with my relationships, profession, and family crises. Our church has been organized by our Heavenly Father and He has inspired both men and women to be a part of its infancy. Now He inspires them in the church's modern day.

I have been directed and guided in every church calling I have ever had because I recognized and utilized the gift of the Holy Ghost and my endowment in the temple. No, I didn't lay my hands on the heads of my primary class members and administer blessings on them or anoint my visiting teaching sisters with consecrated oil because there is a cultural, ecclesiastical, and even a divine decision in our religious organization that assigns men this more public responsibility. I realize that this is the part that many women are unhappy with, but truly, I have learned in my 50 years that whenever I have sought out a responsibility or calling because it will give me more public acknowledgement, I know those have been the times when my motivations have been skewed and selfish. I'm so sorry that some women in our church today don't realize the priesthood power that they already have and use on a daily basis. The covenants we make in the temple and the astounding blessings that are pronounced on our heads are powerful and life changing if we can but see them for what they truly are: eternal blessings from a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to see our potential so we can fulfill that potential. I know that there are women who feel like they are being held down from being fulfilled because they are not allowed to use Priesthood power in a public forum, but my experience has taught me that this is Satan's whispered lies that confuse and degrade the strength of women on this earth. Satan would have us think that everything must be the same for men and women so that we can be truly fulfilled, but my time on this earth has taught me that "equal" is a term that is thrown around in this world to suggest scarcity and lack. I know that the Lord wants each of His children to have the earthly experience that she needs to learn and grow in order to return to our heavenly home and heavenly parents.

Sadly, there are very imperfect men who sometimes use the Priesthood as an opportunity to exercise authority and power over others because they are in a public position. I have experienced this first hand. This is always a counterfeit of what the priesthood's purpose is. Its true purpose is to bind families together and bless the lives of others, and if that is being sacrificed for the more selfish purpose of bringing acclaim to an individual, then it is wrong. That is the very definition of what the Lord has called a "secret combination" or an "abomination". We usually think of a secret combination as a secret organization of wicked men, but looking closer at the purpose of the secret organization we can identify the root purpose as building up a handful of men to have all the power, all the acclaim, all the riches they can gather. Men who use the Priesthood power they have been given to set themselves up above others might be guilty of being an abomination in the sight of the Lord. An abomination is that which the Lord hates. He is not pleased with those of us who use the church, and especially His priesthood, for our own personal gain. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said that our baptism is only the beginning of humility. If that is true then the temple endowment would be yet a continuation of our opportunities to be more humble and more selfless.

After reading this blog post, I felt like I needed to articulate some of my feelings about this important issue in the Mormon church. Yes, there are those who, because of their confusion and lack of gospel education, make embarrassing comparisons and statements about women and the Priesthood, but this should not be an invitation to mock the Lord's anointed or condemn leaders. It should be an invitation to teach and testify.

I hope that I haven't offended anyone by expressing my thoughts. I sorrow with anyone who feels left out, disenfranchised, or marginalized. If we had perfect people in the church's leadership roles we could probably expunge any actions that create this dissonance, but we don't. We have very flawed individuals who are usually doing what they think is best, and sometimes they get it right. At other times tender feelings are hurt and hearts are offended. But the Savior is aware of all of us and can soften hearts and bind wounds that seem beyond healing. He alone can conquer this for us.


Darla said...

Thank you for your post. You put into words what I've thought and felt for a long time.


Yvette Wagstaff said...

Beautifully stated Dianna! Thank you!
Yvette said...

Thank you for expressing yourself so clearly, Dianna. Your essay has given me more strength. I feel much the same as you. Love you. Melany