I've written a lot. I recently checked my "blog stats," and it looks like other people have read a lot, too. What that tells me is not that I'm super special or anything, but that people (mostly women) are looking for commentary that is neither extreme nor wishy-washy. Unfortunately, most of what is written in the "bloggernacle" makes Latter-day Saints choose between:
- Thoughtless obedience. To question is to sin!
- Critical discourse that is not faith-promoting
If my personal experiences and thoughts offer a breath of fresh Mormon air, I'm happy to supply it. Thank you for being here!
With that, I'd like to summarize where I'm at on some major points of complexity and debate regarding women and priesthood. I'll do this Q&A style since I'm often asked about these topics:
Motherhood is our equivalent to priesthood, right?
Nope. Fatherhood is to motherhood as priesthood is to priestess-hood.
Do you think women have the priesthood? Yes or no, don't tell me it's complicated!
Yes, but it is complicated.
Okay fine, tell me more...
We need to make distinctions here. Are we talking priesthood power? Or priesthood authority? Is this in reference to the Melchizedek Priesthood, Aaronic Priesthood, or the order of the Patriarchal Priesthood?
According to me, women came to earth with power derived from the Patriarchal Priesthood. They were endowed prior to birth. The temple endowment for women is a further endowment. The only place where this priesthood is used openly is in the temple, and even there not at all times and in all places.
The vast majority of what takes place on this fallen earth is on the order of the Melchizedek and Aaronic (M&A) priesthoods. While women have access to the greater power, they do not have the same authority here as men. When men use their keys to set women apart in their callings, they open the doors to the offices of the M&A priesthoods and in them women receive priesthood authority to act.
No, I don't agree with that statement. The accusation that those who struggle with our sex-determined priesthood administration (i.e. males do this; females do that) simply need to "understand the priesthood better," is unfortunate. I very much agree with the feminist observation that conditions could and need to be improved for Mormon women, and it's more than likely that not all limitations on women's power is divinely inspired. Moreover, I've noticed that the ones loudly exhorting women to "go back and read the scriptures" tend be the ones who need to follow their own advice.
Are you saying you know more than the General Authorities?
Listen, I sustain our leaders. I believe they are called of God. The Prophet is the Lord's mouthpiece for His church. All that being said they are, after all, men. To me that means they are subject to error like anyone else, which places a responsibility on all of us to contemplate their words and seek confirmation or further light on the matter. Moreover, I'm willing to bet that even President Thomas S. Monson would agree I know more about what it means to be a daughter of God and have a better understanding of the bonds of sisterhood than he does. Insight into divine femininity, in my opinion, will always favor women. If that's anathema I apologize sincerely.
How do you navigate that view of the Church?
Like anyone else I "search, ponder, and pray."
How do you implement your views in the day-to-day?
I don't defer to my husband in all things. We follow a cooperative paradigm as equals. We're a co-presidency, and I feel great about that. He gives me insight about Father, and I give him insights about our Parents. Joseph Smith's teaching that for women to give blessings "there could be no evil in it" is taken to heart. Instead of looking to the brethren to validate my spiritual experiences (which will surely lead to frustration), I claim my inheritance as a daughter of God and approach church differently. I expound the scriptures in our Sunday classes and do not hesitate in exhorting men to correct their words and dealings regarding power and authority (see D&C25:3,7). I recognize that men are doing us a service by officiating in the lowest offices of the priesthood (e.g. bishop) and I thank them for it. I teach my daughter that her roles in life and in The Church do not center on those milestones which are "puberty-dependent." I use my feminine seership to point out tokens and signs that would otherwise go unnoticed by my brothers.
From where do you get your insights?
I go to the temple with a prayer in my heart and a question in my mind. I pay attention to the resulting insights and then study them in the scriptures and pray some more.
Are you selling a belief system and looking for disciples?
I have at every step of the way said these opinions are my own and people should follow Christ, not me. Also, "Monique-ites" has no flow to it. :)