Addressing One Part of the Female Ordination Question

And yes, if women ever receive the priesthood I’m sure it will also be given to sisters with extra fingers. 

Female ordination is one of those issues that is built on so many premises that are themselves so potentially polemical that it would take a ten-part series to walk a true believer and a true non-believer through every point of fundamental disagreement about gender roles, gender essentialism, etc. Consequently, I’m not going to try to digest the whole issue here. Rather, I want to address a particular line one sometimes hears in regards to this issue without claiming to holistically tackle the entirety of the female ordination debate. 

A common narrative goes something like this:

  1. A woman, maybe the woman herself or the daughter of the person speaking, recognizes that, unlike in the Church, women in the workforce sometimes have ultimate, autonomous, organizational authority. [Although, sidebar, I think in practice this actually happens less outside the Church than such interlocutors imply, but that’s another issue].  
  2. She recognizes that there’s no equivalent in the Church. 
  3. Therefore, because she wants to “BE SOMEBODY” and do something grand with her life, she’s going to leave the Mormon space where there are limits to her organizational power by dint of her chromosomes. 

Often this argument then goes into the old motherhood-versus-careerism, whether women can in fact have it all, whether we truly value motherhood, etc. but these are third rails I’m not touching here. Rather, I just want to point out that the implied value judgment in number 3 about what makes life worthwhile is  incredibly demeaning to the 99% of guys who also, according to this scheme, aren’t anything. Yes, women can’t be apostles–and neither can 99.999% of men and, neither would 99.999% of women if they were given the priesthood.

Maybe there are other problems with this in terms of representation–again, I’m not addressing the entirety of the female ordination issue, I’m simply pointing out that any rhetoric arguing in favor of female ordination needs to be cautious about inadvertently connecting leadership positions to substantive meaning in such a way that it not-so-subtly disparages the vast majority of men who do not in fact reach leadership positions. (And yes, I’m aware that we have a ways to go with this socioculturally in the Church in terms of connecting men’s priesthood leadership positions to personal prestige in the Church). I am valuable and worthwhile because I am a member of a God-species with eternal potential, not because of any temporary leadership position I may have held, and I think the implications of this really needs to settle deep into our bones. 

I said I wouldn’t try to address the female ordination issue in one bite, but I will take one more step back to address the connection between leadership and meaning that’s often implied in the ordination discussion. In my professional career I’ve had the privilege of directly reporting to extremely powerful and accomplished women (and men). I respect their skills and leadership and I have enjoyed my time with them, but it’s not like I go home and have a moment of silence in honor of their acumen, prestige, and worldly glory. That’s a category error. They have their reward, and I’m sure enjoy their nice apartments in DC or mansions in wherever, but at the end of the day they too will eventually retire, spend more time with their hobbies and/or family, and will be replaced by other accomplished people, and on and on until we’re all Ozymandian maggot feces. Much of the rhetoric surrounding female ordination ties ultimate, transcendent meaning to authority positions in a way that is not only a theologically and logically iffy, but also downright demeaning and patronizing to people who never achieve such positions, whether they are men or women.

42 comments for “Addressing One Part of the Female Ordination Question

  1. This is an interesting perspective.

    I have heard sentiments that the higher one’s office, the more virtuous, more noble, more precious, and more correct he or she is within our church community. That is sad.

  2. I have observed that most women I know personally who are less content with the current ecclesiastical structure tend to have served in leadership roles. (Most notably we can read about this in Chieko Okazaki’s 2005 interview published in Dialogue.) From my perspective, when it comes to callings, both men and women want autonomy, efficacy, and (for lack of a better word), mystery. (That is, we want to feel like our actions are inspired by the Lord, not just normal good ideas.)

    In my current calling as a Gospel Doctrine teacher, I feel like I get to enjoy three criteria. In contrast, when I served in an auxiliary presidency, it was very hard to have a sense of autonomy. I honestly don’t think any leadership calling can have much autonomy, but at least there are some men’s callings with final decision-making capacity.

    Like you said, there is not as much autonomy in the workforce as people might imagine. However, at least in the workforce you can just complain that your boss is micromanaging. At church, there’s a possibility that the decision you disagree with is inspired of the Lord, and who are you to argue with the Lord?

    Point being, hierarchial organizations have pros and cons. And people’s frustration with hierarchies aren’t necessarily about their own desires for prestige.

  3. “I am valuable and worthwhile because I am a member of a God-species with eternal potential, not because of any temporary leadership position I may have held, and I think the implications of this really needs to settle deep into our bones.”

    That’s the best line you’ve written in some time. Unfortunately, few will find it persuasive. We worship our leaders and non-leader men (and women) rarely have voice or are recognized. We may aspire to be Zion, but Babylon’s hierarchical social structure permeates our thinking. ji is right. It is sad. Very, very sad.

    We can all remember the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. We saw surfers, artists, teachers, nurses, mechanics, etc. gaining voices. And those imperfect examples of Mormonism had more impact (IMO) on a real level than most sermons from the GA/corporate types. Will the Church ever abandon the trappings of the corporate world and value people for what they are instead of who they are? If women are ever ordained, it will likely be after we make that leap.

  4. I really thought that things in the church would be different after the “home church” stuff ended regarding women and so-called priesthood/men only responsibilities/duties. I pictured all these women in the church reaching into their cupboards on Sunday and getting a plate, cups, and bread out and reminding their football-watching husbands that they haven’t had the sacrament yet. After that innocent mundane at home task, I figured these same women would wonder why an ordination to priesthood would be needed to prepare, and pass the sacrament at church. And IMO, a very valid question. Throw in that women and little girls can now witness a baptism, something that required an ordained priest (or higher) to do for who knows how long and I was certain there was change a coming. Crickets. Personal note: I am ALL FOR the sisters prepping, passing and even blessing the sacraments in our churches. If we did this for just one Sunday, I think 90% of the members would feel that we should have been doing this long ago.

    I have always felt that my wife (and all women) was holier/more special than me because she had the ability to create and nurture life. That has to be the greatest achievement humans can ever achieve. IMO. I am a CEO, I have been a bishop, I still feel this way about women. I am NOT saying that women MUST be baby-makers and not bishops and CEOs. Be those if that’s what you want. I just think women are lowering themselves when they want to be more like men. (with exceptions like equality issues that are literarily based on just gender such as pay) No matter how successful I am as a CEO or so-called “high calling” I have held in the church, it doesn’t come close to what my wife has achieved/sacrificed in creating/raising children. Nothing!

    Women as we know, perform priesthood ordinances on our temples. They dont require a special ordination to enter a temple like men do.

    They also get the priesthood (or a form of it?) with the Second Anointing ordinances albeit very few get this opportunity including men.

    Like the OP has pointed out, just because they (sisters) get ordained does not mean they will be bishops. I dont think they need to be ordained as they are already holier than man.

    Feel free to throw stones. :)

    Conversations in the afterlife I think about…

    MEN: I was the richest man on earth! I was the best basketball player on earth! I was the strongest man on earth! I was the best hunter on earth! I was the best president of the church on earth! I was a Bishop on earth!

    Women: I created you. (and I’m better looking too)

  5. I have always felt worthless in the Church, pretty much in life. Still do. I am a childless, never married women. Statements like the one above from REC11 are the reason why. Women are important because they create life. How is this any better than judging someone for being a CEO or bishop? You are still evaluting my worth based on my role and postion in life. Go back and read the post again: ““I am valuable and worthwhile because I am a member of a God-species with eternal potential, not because of any temporary leadership position I may have held, and I think the implications of this really needs to settle deep into our bones.”

  6. I was only part way through your thoughts before I was offended and wanted to smack you upside the head for your arrogant sexism. But, I am quick to forgive sexist idiots because so many men are because they have never REALLY listened to women. And other than being clueless, I really like men and raised one I am pretty proud of.

    Now your argument is the old “seeking power” argument and it is wrong. How about we are seeking being treated like humans.

    Why I became a feminist was because I was treated like a servant as relief society president. No, servants are paid, make that a slave. Everything was decided in PEC, which I wasn’t invited to. When I brought up a problem, I was told, we’ll talk that over in PEC and get back to you next month.. so, the family got to go hungry for a month while I waited for them to have their all important discussion they could only have when I wasn’t around and then they would tell me if I could do anything or not. I ended up hating each and every one of the arrogant sexist pigs. Yes, 40 years later, I am still furious. Yes, some things have changed. Yes to every one of your stupid arguments. But things should NEVER have been that way. Not even with a poor quality bishop. It was wrong and disrespectful of both me and the ward members. There was no reason not to discuss the issue right then and there, in (gasp) a lowly female’s presence.

    They dictated to me what I was to do. When another woman ( wife of an important man in the ward) had a problem pregnancy and was ordered to bed, I had to arrange a baby sitter for her brats and everyone in the ward knew how undisciplined and horrid those children were and refused to take them, so I had to. Then I started to miscarry and my doctor order in to stay in bed. But I couldn’t because I had to babysit her children. I tried to tell the bishopric and they refused to even listen and I was not an assertive woman, but well trained in “keeping sweet”(comment below) and so I risked my own baby because I was their slave and that was how they treated me and like I said, I was raised Mormon (I refuse to drop a perfectly good term) and trained in obeying my church leaders.

    If there had been a woman as bishop, she would have heard me when I told her my own baby was in MORE danger than sister Badmother. I don’t want power or to be bishop. I want to end the system we have now where women are treated as second class and those in power do not have a clue about women’s real feelings or the difficulties of pregnancy. I want a system where women’s voices are HEARD and women are part of all important decisions. So, as Hawkgirl suggested on Wheat and Tares a while back, I don’t want priesthood. I want men not to have priesthood. That would solve the problem just fine for me.

    Women don’t want power any more than men do, probably a lot less because we don’t have as much testosterone. So, actually switching the system around so women have priesthood and you power hungry men have second class status would most likely be less abusive. It is all your testosterone that causes men to seek status over others, where women are more networking and equality minded because of hormones. What women want is for men to get their feet off our necks, to quote a famous feminist.

  7. I resemble your #1 and #2, but your #3 misses the mark. Your #3 is how orthodox men/women view the motivations of people like me, not how we are actually motivated.

    Because it isn’t about glory and power or being grand in someone else’s eyes. It is about using our god-given gifts in meaningfully ways that please God. And that should be celebrated rather than shrunk down to a phrase like “Be Somebody.”


  8. #3 is exactly what a lot of careerism is about, for both men and women. Yes, of course it’s all for the greater good, but it’s awfully convenient that most of the time supposedly altruistic ambition is vectored into channels that do in fact lead to greater wealth and/or prestige such as corporate executive, politician, or partner in a corporate law firm, and rarely is it channeled in high impact, low prestige channels (e.g. foster parenting, public defender, etc.).

  9. Stephen C, You may not realise it because you are republican, but you are not addressing what are real problems are but diverting, so the real problems are avoided, because that doesn’t suit your point of view.

    In this case you claim that the women who want the priesthood want it so they can be recognised as important. Can you get that out of still angry comment. I can’t, and I think it is another of you diversions from reality. My wife has been RS president on a number of occasions, and has had experiences like a bishop who replaced her councilors without consulting her. She found out when the rest of the ward did.

    A few weeks ago you had an article about abortion which inferred you should be pro life, vote republican, because republicans are reducing women’s reproductive options. You deflect from the reality that under Trump last time there were 90000 more abortions than under Obama, and that Obama reduced by 25% the number of abortions. So if abortion is so important you should be supporting what reduces the number of abortions rather than diverting to republican lies.

    What works in both cases is trusting women and giving them the resources to achieve what they can. In both situations you support women being less than men who can make their decisions for them.

  10. “#3 is exactly what a lot of careerism is about… Yes, of course it’s all for the greater good, but it’s awfully convenient that most of the time supposedly altruistic ambition is vectored into channels that do in fact lead to greater wealth and/or prestige.”

    You lost me. What does any on that have to do with wanting to use my gifts at church, not having a way to do so, and thus moving outside the church experience to volunteer with other organizations?

  11. I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I’m not a Republican, and don’t believe I have ever encouraged straight ticket voting. On the abortion issue; a while ago I incidentally addressed the old urban legend that abortion restrictions don’t lower abortion rates, when they do, if that’s what you’re referring to.

    Again, I’m carving out a very particular chunk of the ordination debate, and I’m not claiming to address every reason for wanting women to have the priesthood. This is very particularly, narrowly directed towards the “my daughter had a problem with the priesthood restriction, and now look she’s a major division head in the corporate world” line that yes, is used, and very clearly connects worldly occupational success to substantive importance as a human being. Because if we do connect managerial responsibilities to individual substantive importance, and women are categorically denied that importance, then yes, women are less substantively important in the Church, but I’m quibbling with that first premise.

  12. About ten years ago Elder Andersen Split our stake in Orem UT. He was the newest apostle at the time–and during his talk he forcefully preached–almost pounding the pulpit–that the Lord doesn’t care about position.

    That said, critics are quick to point out how enamored members are with position in the church–as they suppose–and yet they’re the first to point out how women don’t get a fair shot because of the unevenness of positions in the church between men and women.

    That (and that) said, we need to forsake the priorities of the world and take Elder Andersen’s counsel to heart. And we need to learn to be content with what the Lord has allotted unto us. It doesn’t matter if we never “amount to” anything more than a faithful hymnbook collector in the church. What matters most is that we get our feet on the path that leads to eternal life–and that is a position that is open to everyone who is willing to follow the Savior. And, ironically, those who are in the process of working out their salvation with fear and trembling typically don’t worry over opportunities lost in leadership positions. Life affords enough worries and difficulties within the narrow scope of our duties and responsibilities towards our loved ones and neighbors.

  13. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever heard someone call for female ordination because they personally wanted to be a leader. Perhaps. Usually it’s either fairness on principle or a claim that not having women as leaders hurts all women (see Still Angry’s post–and given how often Church leaders emphasize listening to women’s voices in councils this cannot be lightly dismissed). The post says it’s not addressing all arguments though, and that’s fair enough.

    I’ll heartily endorse “I am valuable and worthwhile because I am a member of a God-species with eternal potential, not because of any temporary leadership position I may have held” and everything after that. Our entire society has a problem with leader-worship and generally overvaluing leadership. You see it in peoples’ attitudes toward Musk, Jobs, Obama, or Trump. You see it in CEO salaries (and coaches). You see it in HR guidelines.

    In the Church we have the complication that we expect our leaders to receive revelation, which requires a certain level of righteousness. So we have an interest in talking about how our leaders (local and general) are good people–and they generally are! But we need to do more to make sure we recognize and value the contributions all our members make, as well as keep everyone focused on what really matters–which is not leadership.

  14. Still angry’s comment demonstrates that if we are going to isolate one part of the female ordination question it is not the one the OP focuses on. It is that too many men are doing priesthood wrong. Now, I actually think that we are doing it better now than we were 50 years ago, but not better enough. And how much of that improvement can we attribute to the Church? Probably not that much. Truly good nonchurch leaders seem to get more recognition these days and I think priesthood holders have noticed and taken their examples to heart. And it is entirely possible that male nonchurch leaders have improved because of their exposure to women, not only as subordinates, but as superiors and competitors. As a HPGL, I had an assistant who was career Army and who had strongly opposed integrating women into the force. But by the time he got to me, he was willing to admit that he had actually learned a lot from them. I think that is pretty common, and it argues in favor of ordination.

  15. I have heard feminists point out how the workplace grants authority to women that the Church denies. But I have never heard them complain that this lack of authority denies their right to “BE SOMEBODY” and “do something grand” with their life, as the OP assumes. Many of them don’t necessarily want to be a bishop or stake president themselves. They just want women in decision-making capacities so that their voices might be heard. It’s not about power. It is about being heard. The OP sets up a strawman (or straw-woman, more accurately) that is easily knocked down. But that straw-woman, if she exists, is such a miniscule segment of women seeking ordination as to render the OP irrelevant. Perhaps the next post could assume that women seeking ordination just want to be heard.

  16. RLD wrote, “But we need to do more to make sure we recognize and value the contributions all our members make, as well as keep everyone focused on what really matters–which is not leadership.”

    I think we have room for improvement here. In seems sometimes that leadership is indeed the only thing that really matters among us, because leadership both brings and results from divine favor, righteousness, and prosperity. The American business model seems to have infected the church, and we may erringly think of bishops and stake presidents, for example, as mid-level managers in an organization charged with production goals rather than as servants of their neighbors. This is sad. I wish bishops and stake presidents (and other church “leaders”) would see themselves as servants of their neighbors, rather than as their leaders. Didn’t Jesus say something along this line?

  17. I was worried to come back here because I was pretty sure that one of the following would happen (1) my post was deleted. (2) my post was dismissed as nothing but an angry apostate (3) my post would be explained away as one bad bishop with the whole “amen to the priesthood of that man bit. Because that is the kind of reaction I am used to getting from members.

    So, alright, let’s just discuss that one narrow reason for not giving women priesthood. Why should all women be punished because some of them are no different than some men? It is not a good reason to ASK for priesthood, but why is the possibility that some women *might* be that way a good reason for denying women the priesthood when we know good and well that some men *are* that way? Seems to me if seeking for power is a reason to keep priesthood away from women it is a reason to keep it away from men too.

    See, it comes back to no reason at all.

    Now, maybe we can discuss why men want to keep all the power to themselves?

  18. The point isn’t that ambitious women should be “punished” for their ambition by not being given leadership positions (although, TBH, the idea of “punishing” both ambitious me and women sometimes sounds great to me), the point is that one of the reasons posited for why a male-only priesthood is bad is because women are restricted from positions of glory, respect, and honor, whereas the point that I’m making is that implicit in such a narrative is a perspective that demeans people who don’t have leadership positions. And yes, as stated in the OP, if we put leaders on some kind of otherworldly high horse, then women do in fact have a point about being restricted from having their own high horses, when we should just dispense with such high horses altogether.

  19. As I try to understand the OP’s argument in the most charitable light, I think the argument fails in emphasizing a woman’s supposed disparagement of men as a reason to suspect her ambition. This way of putting the argument singles out women for a weakness—vain ambition—that is found at least as often among men in our church’s system of hierarchical prestige. Disparagement of men is not the real issue here.

    The actual problem is that a prideful perspective on leadership distorts the nature of love and service. It’s strange and misleading to frame that problem as “one part of the female ordination question.” It’s a problem among both men and women, as I understand Section 121 and as I think experience teaches. If this is a reason to question the ordination of women, then it is equally a reason to question the ordination of men.

    So why don’t we hear this argument used to question whether men should be ordained? I don’t know what Stephen C. had in mind. I can only speak in general terms about this type of argumentation. When defending the status quo, killing the messenger is a powerful strategy. Arguments for female ordination force us to look at the way power actually works in the church. It’s much easier to blame ambitious, insensitive women than it is to work on the universal problems of pride and unrighteous dominion.

  20. I don’t know how many more times I need to say this; the point isn’t punishing women (or men) for ambition, it’s the entire framing of leadership structures as a system of hierarchically increasing personal importance and transcendent meaning that disparages people who do not have leadership positions. And yes, this framing often occurs in the female ordination debate, but I’m challenging its validity. Ergo any argument against male-only ordination that 1) relies on the framing of leadership positions as connected to a unique level of God-ordained personal glory and honor that 2) needs to be available to both genders if equality is to be claimed, is not valid if underlying premise 1 is not valid.

  21. I’ve also been around this conversation for quite some time, and I’ve never heard a fellow feminist say they wanted the priesthood so they could satisfy their ambitions and be somebody at church (#3). Usually the argument goes, ‘church is the only place I go where women are barred from certain positions and roles because they are are women. It’s dehumanizing. I wouldn’t stay in a workplace or school that did that.’ It’s not about seeking after power, it’s about not being in an environment where sexism, often unintentional, permeates everything.

  22. Stephen C., it is equally valid to question any argument in favor of male-only ordination that relies on the framing of leadership positions as connected to a unique level of God-ordained personal glory and honor. That’s why singling out an argument about female ordination is misleading. The problem you have identified calls into question all ordinations, whether of men or women.

    Now, one might respond, people don’t try to justify male-only ordination by relying on Premise 1. That’s why I mentioned the way arguments about female ordination force us to look at the way power actually works in the church. If Premise 1 is operating in practice, and in spite of doctrine that teaches the contrary, then it’s not really surprising that people don’t talk about it much. Our own hypocrisies are usually not a popular topic. This is one of the reasons feminism is so valuable: it interrogates not just what we say we do, but also what we actually do.

    I am fully on board with challenging the validity of the idea that holding authority confirms a person’s worth and righteousness. We ought to recognize and be grateful for the way arguments for female ordination bring this problem to light. Using this problem to brand female ordination as bad, while giving no mind to the identical issue with male ordination, is a fine example of shooting the messenger.

  23. Stephen C. As you are not a republican can we have a post on the consequences of trump winning the election in November. I read that he is much more organised this time. For example all senior public servants will be required to agree that Trump won in 2020 or be replaced with someone who will. That applies to the FBI, the military and national guard too. He was upset these groups didn’t come to his aid in 2020.
    I believe internationally he will not help defend Ukraine, Taiwan, Korea, but will support Israel over Palestine. He will also not participate in fighting climate change.
    The consequences of voting for Trump are terrifying and need to be discussed.

  24. Stephen, you keep insisting that you want to examine the argument that women should not have priesthood because they are just seeking after power, but refuse to see the argument we are making that it is no argument at all because if it is bad for women to do it, then it is equally bad for men to want priesthood, and I don’t see the 11 year old boys being told how they shouldn’t want priesthood because it is just seeking after power to want priesthood. Examine the circle your own logic is running around in.

    As to what you claim you are trying to argue, if priesthood is REALLY not power and authority then what the blank is it? I was taught it is the *power* to act in God’s name. Heck yeah I want that power. I want to be able to heal my children or grandchildren if they are sick, because women tend children for hours with no men around. Sure would be nice if mothers could heal sick children. The church uses the analogy of umbrella and says how everyone is covered or blessed by the priesthood. But Covid and the many women who didn’t have priesthood handy to bless the sacrament for months sure proved the bad logic of that analogy. I have been a mother alone with a sick child with no priesthood available.

    And trying to argue that no social status goes with high position in the church is kinda stupid when we all stand up to show respect for the prophet and I assume you support that respect. Of course there is social status with higher church callings. You still probably still want us all to listen to our prophet and in other ways show great respect for the prophet. You still want us all to respect our bishops, so you are saying all calling should be equal, but you would not really want all callings to be equal because you don’t want to be bound to believe every word that comes out of your ward nursery leader’s mouth. Get real. The church could not function if everyone was really equal. The world doesn’t work that way. There has to be a leader who is given more say, more power, more respect. Not in a marriage, but in a church you need one head.

    There is NO reason men should want priesthood that does not hold true for women. And I assume you want to keep yours.

  25. I think we run into trouble when we axiomatically assume that the church should be viewed in the same light as other organizations. Yes there are some similarities but there are also marked differences that make it a completely different animal. And so it might serve us well to start with the assumption that there may be good reasons–reasons that are not based in sexism–as to why men are ordained and women are not.

    I think it would also serve us well to remember that women are clothed in the priesthood in the temple–and to consider how that ordinance relates to the way the priesthood is operative in the church.

    As I say, the church is not merely a worldly organization. It comes out of eternity–and it is still in its infancy. But it will grow into a Kingdom that will fill the earth. And I give it to you as my opinion that as the Kingdom progresses in its growth we will begin to see women serving in ways that reflect the order of the priesthood that is mentioned in the temple–indeed, there are already wisps of it in the church today. But we have to be patient–because the world is not yet ready to receive that order. It must be transformed before the fulness of the priesthood can be revealed. But when it is revealed we will see matriarchs and patriarchs ruling side by side within a system of governance that is ordered after the family.

  26. @ MJD1973:
    “church is the only place I go where women are barred from certain positions and roles because they are are women. It’s dehumanizing.”

    You’re making my very point, implicitly connecting humanizing to leadership positions.

    Yes, people never directly say, “I want the priesthood because I want to satisfy my ambitions,” but there’s plenty of discourse about seeing priesthood leadership involved in administering and doing important things, and then realizing that they will never sit in the stand because of their chromosomes. That’s all over the place, despite the fact that most men will also never sit in the stand regardless of their chromosomes.

    @ Loursat:

    “it is equally valid to question any argument in favor of male-only ordination that relies on the framing of leadership positions as connected to a unique level of God-ordained personal glory and honor.”

    Sure, I agree, that’s why I’m not making that argument based on that premise.

    “We ought to recognize and be grateful for the way arguments for female ordination bring this problem to light.”

    If you’re referring to the female ordination debate bringing to light the problems of the *practice* of leader worship, then yes, I agree it does do that.

    @Concerned: I don’t know if this is meant as some sort of a gotcha, but no I’m not voting for Trump, and sure; I mean, half the airwaves of having that conversation already, so I don’t know what a little Mormon blog would add to the conversation, but yes, if somebody wanted to writeup a guest post that put a Latter-day Saint specific lens on that then I’m sure we’d consider it.

    @Still angry: I’m going to pushback on the reframing of the OP as me saying that women are “power hungry.” Nobody’s saying that some women want the priesthood so that they can drive their enemies in the Church before them. I am saying that arguments that implicitly associate leadership positions with God-ordained, person-level prestige in the same way that secular prestige positions are are wrongheaded because they are denigrating to people who do not have those positions.

    Not performing leader worship isn’t the same as telling my kids to pay attention when the office of the prophet is speaking, and I’m not making the argument for flattening hierarchies as an organizational matter, just in attaching personal prestige/importance to them.

    I’m not saying that we don’t do this in practice. I make that note in the OP, just that it’s wrong.

  27. Stephen: I think that most men who:
    1. Attend church weekly
    2. Do the things they need to do to have a temple recommend (pay tithing, etc)
    3. Marry in the temple
    4. Accept callings and try to do a good job

    Most (not all) such men will, at some point I their lives, serve in a bishopric.

    Only a tiny fraction of members become apostles but hundreds of thousands who live into their 70s experience the “chance” to sit at the front, to extend callings, to set people apart, receive tithing, conduct temple recommend interviews, and many other things. The chance to be an important person in the ward is not a rare thing. I’m not sure where this 0.001% comes from?

    I agree: there’s only one prophet.

  28. Stephen C, I think MJD1973 already responded to you: “It’s not about seeking after power, it’s about not being in an environment where sexism, often unintentional, permeates everything.” To MJD1973, women not being in leadership positions is just one symptom of a broader problem. We need to acknowledge and work to address that problem regardless of where we stand on female ordination.

  29. Stephen,

    Your premise is unkind, unfounded, and simply wrong. The scriptures teach differently. In Abraham 1:2, we read that Abraham sought after the priesthood because he desired greater happiness, peace, and knowledge for himself and his posterity. Women who seek ordination today do so for the same reasons. They don’t want to “BE SOMEBODY” and do something grand with their life. They want to become more like the Savior and fulfill the purpose of their life, through means that priesthood ordination provides – performing ordinances and ministering.

    I am not woman. I’m a husband and father who has seen great blessings flow to my sons as they administer priesthood ordinances and serve in callings where priesthood ordination is required. I desire those same blessings for my wife, daughters, and all women in my life. This is a righteous desire. Never a quest for dominion.

    I am man who has seen some progress and greater light as women are included in ordinances and leadership roles. Consider that women now serve as witnesses for ordinances. Literally everyone I’ve asked says that service is a blessing and good. Yet it was denied for so many years because too few sought and too few listened.

    Consider PEC and Ward Council meetings. I’ve been in both through years of church service. They covered essentially the same purposes, but PEC excluded women. Guess which counsel had more revelation and inspiration? The one with the women. Thankfully the Church dropped PEC. I’ve been a member of multiple High Councils and Bishoprics. I know first-hand that those organizations will be similarly better when women are included.

    Finally, I must touch on a point of self-interest for women’s ordination. I was not present in primary or many other aspects of my children’s life because priesthood duties called me elsewhere. To this day I have a yearning to teach children, but am kept from such service because of the false church dichotomy that places men in leadership and women with children. Would you judge my desires to be with children as wrongful, or even malicious? Would you judge the Savior’s same desires? Of course not. It is shameful that you would judge women for their righteous desires of priesthood ordination.

  30. Hi Dave K, just a quick note: Men can actually serve as primary teachers! I was a primary teacher about 20 years ago. It’s maybe the best calling in the church. So what’s keeping you from serving in primary is just your bishop trying to figure out the best fit for the callings in your ward. Maybe talk to him about it?

  31. Jonathan,
    Of course men are allowed to serve in primary. But in areas of the church with smaller populations where I’ve lived the effect of excluding women from ordination is that few men serve in primary and then only for short periods of time. I was called as a primary teacher a few years back. It was a wonderful 2 months before being called again to the high council.

    Of additional note, while men can be teachers they are not called into primary presidencies. That’s shame as they’d do great. Though the OP would wrongfully presume that men advocating for inclusion in primary presidencies are looking for glory and dominion.

  32. Dave K,

    I’m of the opinion that both men and women receive the priesthood that Abraham sought in temple. But if we’re talking about holding positions of authority–then we have the story of Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek.

  33. Stephen, you are missing the point. I stopped reading for a while because of frustration. You keep coming back to worldly prestige, worldly power. No, The women are saying the WAY WE ARE TREATED is dehumanizing. It isn’t about worldly power, for crying out loud. It is about being equal human beings, not toys, sex symbols, mothers, servants, objects of sexual fear, walking porn. It is about being counted when a ward is divided, about our needs for a room to nurse babies in being considered instead of just let’s have a real pretty high council room. It is about being heard. About having input to decisions FOR ALL WOMEN, not just the wife of one or two guys.

    Now that I have yelled at you, let me go read the rest of the comments and your reply.

  34. Now, if you want to argue against leadership worship, Stephen, then leave the argument about women’s ordination out of it. It is a totally different argument. If you want to raise the status of those who have no leadership positions?.?.? How you gonna do that? If you want to lower the status and respect we give our leaders, then argue that. If you want to make women and non leadership men given some kind of vote or voice, argue that. If you want to increase the status of women without giving them priesthood, then argue that. Don’t tangle 16 different subjects into your argument.

    And learn how to listen to what women are trying to tell you, I mean come on, you are not dense.

    So, let me say it again. The argument about women wanting power is not a valid argument against giving them priesthood. Just because some men don’t have leadership, but do have priesthood, does not make it the same thing. Men without leadership still have higher status because they have priesthood, even with no position. Women are second class because they are not priesthood. Even deacons at 11 years old are counted in meetings or sustained in the leadership sustaining before women, so 11 year old boys have more status in this warped stupid system. Home teachers have told the 12 year old son, he is the head of his home because no man and he has priesthood and his mother doesn’t. Read some of the outraged stories on feminist blogs. Women are second class in this church. That is the problem.

    Women want ordination for lots of reasons. The argument against women covers lots of reasons. Individuals may or may not agree with different arguments. But some of the arguments against giving women the priesthood apply to men equally. If women shouldn’t have priesthood because they are parents, then men should not have priesthood because they are parents. The 1950s are over, if you haven’t noticed. Most women work the same as men and men are needed in their role as father as never before, so maybe priesthood should be a paid position. Maybe we should run the church different than we do. Maybe men should get over the idea that women are somehow magically different. Nope, only the plumbing is different really. Maybe men should start treating women with real respect instead of treating the role women play as mothers with fake respect. Words on Mother’s Day and treat them like nobodies the rest of the year. Maybe men need to learn how to listen to women as equals, even as superiors or leaders.

    I don’t pretend to know the answers and it is above my pay grade. I don’t personally want leadership. Been there, done that, hated it with a passion. But I want respect. I want equality. I want to be treated as a full human, not an extension or the property of my husband.

  35. This recent editorial in the Trib may help explain the problem. Women just want to be treated like human beings with respect not like secondary others. My wife’s been treated with condescension and even been bullied by boys in leadership who should know better. Things are changing but I’m not over lee optimistic that we’ll get where we need to be before most of the sisters leave.

  36. For actual arguments for ordaining women in the LDS church instead of the OP you could go to the following articles:

    1. From

    “ Except at the highest levels of administration, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a lay church. It is organized such that all members have the opportunity to speak, teach, and pray in local congregations. Only boys and men, however, are ordained to the lay priesthood and have ritual and administrative authority in the Church. Despite their gifts, talents, and aspirations, women are excluded from almost all positions of clerical, fiscal, ritual, and decision-making authority.
    While women perform significant service in the Church’s auxiliaries, such as the Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, and Young Women’s organizations, their contributions are always mediated and under the direction of male priesthood leaders. According to the Church’s Gospel Principles manual,
    ‘ Men use priesthood authority to preside in the Church. . . . Women who hold positions in the Church . . . work under the direction of the priesthood.” As such, Mormon women have many delegated responsibilities but lack the authority to define and oversee those responsibilities.
    This lack of female authority does not stop at the church doors. The Church’s Proclamation on the Family declares that men preside over their wives and families, thus preserving an antiquated and unequal model in both the domestic and ecclesiastical realms.
    While many thoughtful men in priesthood leadership positions make decisions that include input from women, the male governing structure of the Church means that women’s voices are inevitably left out, overlooked, and discounted.
    Since leadership and positional authority in Mormonism is inextricably tied to priesthood ordination, it is clear that Mormon women must be ordained in order to be full and equal participants in their Church.“

    2. There is also a historical argument that women had more priesthood authority and power in the past.


    “Taylor set Snow apart to “preside over the Relief Societies in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This calling imbued her with “power and authority.” It further outlined her responsibilities to “expound the Scriptures, and to bless, elevate and strengthen [her] sisters.”5

    The article goes on to explain that women have blessings and ordained each other as leaders.

    3. Recent LDS instagram posts on women and priesthood comment section – thousands of comments there if you want to know what LDS women feel about this issue today or read the other lively discussion a few posts later in a similar vein.

  37. Loursat – you said, “When defending the status quo, killing the messenger is a powerful strategy.” We just finished reading and discussing the pop-up appearance of Abinadi to King Noah and his people. Your statement is a perfect example of how easy it is to dismiss the messenger that presents a threat to the prevailing system (which seems like it’s working). I don’t think women raising their voices in these modern days is any different than Abinadi standing up to speak truth to power. King Noah refused to listen, even creating their own public relations campaign, painting Abinadi in the light of “contentious” and “stirring up anger among the people”. I’m not convinced by our response to women challenging the current status quo that we “holy people” today would have listened to Abinadi either.

  38. That’s not what proponents of female ordination are saying at all. It’s what the church is saying.

    The church is the one teaching that authority is inherently laudable and makes your opinion more valuable in the church.

    “His is a hierarchical church, with ultimate authority at the top. … Titles pertaining to the holy priesthood deserve our utmost care and respect. …We appropriately honor individuals who have attained such positions. … it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves. … That same principle precludes receiving revelation for anyone outside one’s defined circle of responsibility. … When a presiding General Authority has spoken, no one speaks following him … Seniority is honored among ordained Apostles—even when entering or leaving a room.”
    — Russel M. Nelson – April 1993 General Conference, “Honoring the Priesthood”

    Did you catch that? “Titles pertaining to the holy priesthood deserve our utmost care and respect. …We appropriately honor individuals who have attained such positions”

    If you disagree with that, you’d better use your power and authority to change how worthwhileness is connected to rank in this church. Unless you can’t, because you’re not high-ranking enough…

    The church is the one attaching importance to positions. Not women. If women are asking for ordination, it’s because the church has created a system and environment where position and titles are valued in that way. The church is the one implying that the lower-ranking men are lesser.

    Remember that no matter how low you rank on the ladder as a man in this church, the woman is always one rung below that.

    It’s almost like as a low-ranking man you object to being treated how all the women are constantly treated in this church. Your anger towards the women is misplaced.

  39. Rank in this church equals decision-making power. You know this as well as we do. That isn’t the women’s fault. That’s how this church was set up. By men (or by God, if you believe the men’s claims…).

    Low-ranking men are almost as powerless as we women are in this church (almost.. you’re always one rung above us). You know as well as we do that the opinions of Stake Presidents are valued more and always take precedence over any ward Elder’s Quorum president. It appears you don’t like it any more than we do.

    Women are being actively damaged and stepped-on in this church. Women are hurting because of decisions made by men with decision-making rank. The only way to get that to stop in the current structure is for women to be ordained so that they can get some decision-making power and finally sit in a seat where making the harm stop is possible.

    A lot more of us are realizing we can stop that harm faster by just leaving the church. I can to go a restaurant and have my dessert order listened to more carefully than anything I’ve ever said in Ward Council.

  40. As a friendly non-Mormon student of religion, I make this point:

    Every Christian church which has admitted women into a once all-male ministry or priesthood has begun a decline into abandoning entirely their historical doctrinal identities, heading headlong into LGBTQ and race-obsession and wokeness, resulting in male flight from the ranks of the ordained and massive flight from their pews. They are ALL dying.


  41. We could do better in our current structure without ordaining women to priesthood offices. But, I think that in the Temple, where women have authority to do a lot, there is no reason why women could not be officiators (button pushers) in the endowment, or sealers. And I think that after Dr ExCathedra’s message, nothing more really needs to be said. Thanks for adding to the comments Dr!

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