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I teach a class at our local Mormon church called Gospel Principles. It is a course designed for people who are not familiar with the Mormon faith who are wanting to learn more, or for those who need a “refresher” course. This week’s lesson is on the Priesthood.
According to the lesson manual, the definition of priesthood is: the eternal power and authority of God. The lesson continues by sharing that God has a certain order and delegates this power and authority for people to act in his name. It also goes on to share the in God’s church only those who have been ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands can lead God’s church.
As I read through the lesson, I became distracted by a certain phrase that kept popping up in various ways. I’ll highlight some of them:
Our Heavenly Father delegates His priesthood power to worthy male members of the Church.
If a man does not have the priesthood, even though he may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs
Men need the priesthood to preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
A worthy male member of the Church receives the priesthood “by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority..”
Men cannot buy and sell the power and authority of the priesthood.
When a man uses the priesthood “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41), he can do many wonderful things for his family and others.
Men use priesthood authority to preside in the Church in such callings as branch president, bishop, quorum president, stake president, and mission president.
…every man who uses the priesthood in righteousness that he “will find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate…”
As you can probably see, the word “man” or “men” was mentioned with almost every paragraph. There was one mention of women in the whole lesson, which is:
Men and women who hold positions in the Church as officers and teachers work under the direction of priesthood leaders and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Women Still hold the Priesthood
Mormon Heretic points out that the original intention of Priesthood (the power to act in God’s name) was that men and women have a share in the priesthood. Priesthood has evolved into meaning hierarchical positions in the church, but that wasn’t it’s original intention. As pointed out in the article, women received the priesthood when they received their endowment in the temple.
Today, women still receive endowments in the temple and they perform priesthood ordinances, so they have the priesthood but only use it in the temples (to my knowledge).
Is that enough?
Although technically, Mormon women have the priesthood, they do not use it to give blessings, perform ordinances, and function in leadership positions such as pastor for a congregation.
As a Mormon male, I can not speak in behalf of Mormon women. I just know that if I were a Mormon woman, I’d have a lot of questions about why men run everything and how it evolved from leaders talking about both men and women sharing the priesthood to where it is now discussed that only men have the priesthood (although that is technically not true). It appears that many women from the Mormon Woman Project feel that way as pointed out in a recent Salt Lake News Tribune article, in that they want to see greater equality in the church.
If you are a Mormon woman, please share your thoughts about the priesthood. If you are fine with how things are, please explain why. If you would like some changes, why and what would you change?