Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Priesthood & Women

On Sunday, my brother received the Melchizedek Priesthood; and we were lucky enough to be there. I had a my own 'tender mercy' of the week as I witnessed my brother make a sacred oath and covenant with God in order to perform in His name on the earth. How amazing is that; if every worthy male lives up to their end of the covenant, they have the power to act in the name of God. As if he were on the earth today. As I sat there thinking about the priesthood holders' role; I wanted to be reminded of my role.

As LDS women, we seem to be bombarded with attacks having to do with the patriarchal order (the word sometimes used is domination) of the church. Questions are posed: Why don't women hold the priesthood? Shouldn't they be treated equally and given the chance to do so? Why are women encouraged to stay home? And, my personal favorite, aren't you wasting your life?

I found two articles written on the subject, one is by Elder Dallin H. Oaks called Priesthood Authority in the Family & Church; the other is A Women's Perspective on the Priesthood by Patricia T. Holland (FYI: wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland). They are both great reads, but I want to focus on Sister Holland's.

Sister Holland answers the first two questions by reminding us how we are all spiritually equally but it is our roles and responsibilities that make us different; and the difference does not exist just between men and women, but also each individual. She then says it is up to up to "live worthily enough to know step by step what the Lord’s will is regarding us," and that we do this through being "close to the Spirit through prayer, study, and righteous living," and personal revelation---our own liahona. The Lord expects this of all His children. Our mortal roles and obligations are different which means we each have different tools and talents to fulfill them; this principle is true regarding priesthood holders and women alike.

She then poses the question about our own rights (as women) through relating a story from Elder Oaks {the woman who was not a member of the church}:

[Elder] Oaks as a young law professor was closely associated with Justice Lewis M. Powell, now of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Powell’s daughter was herself a recent graduate of a fine law school, following which she began a very successful law practice and a marriage almost simultaneously. Some time thereafter she had her first child. In paying a courtesy call as a family friend, President Oaks was pleasantly surprised to find this young mother at home with her child full time. When asked of this decision the young woman replied, “Oh, I may go back to the law sometime but not now. For me the issue was simple. Anyone could take care of my clients, but only I can be the mother of this child.” What an incisive answer to an issue she says was simple! And it does seem to have been simple because she approached it, not in terms of rights, but first and foremost in terms of responsibilities. I think the issue would not have been so simple if her attitude had been, “It’s my career,” or “It’s my life.” But her concern was for her obligations. When considered that way, the issue and the answer were simple.

We all have rights and the freedom to pursue them. That much the Lord has promised us. I believe then, that the crucial point we need to come to as Latter-day Saint women is not to allow ourselves to feel forced into righteous choices, but to come to them of our own free and anxious will. Some of the pain and frustration and depression we hear about comes from feeling compelled or forced to make certain choices. We should seek diligently and prayerfully the light that would quicken our hearts and minds to truly desire the outcomes we make in righteous decisions. Our prayers ought to be to see as God sees, to adjust our minds so we may see things from an eternal perspective. If we listen too often to the voices of the world, we will become confused and tainted. We must anchor ourselves in the spirit and that requires daily vigilance."

The Lord loves us all and wants us to succeed and be happy with our mortal endeavors. He knows our true potential. Women are not under men because of the Priesthood; women are equal to and enhanced because of the Priesthood and the worthy Priesthood holders in their lives. We help these men live up to the oath and covenant they have made with God through supporting them and making our own righteous, unselfish choices.

We should not feel ashamed or like we're wasting away because of the righteous choices we make; if our choices are truly made in righteousness, then we have the tools to enhance our lives and make the situation better. I encourage each of us to pray to find our personal liahona, and if you've already found it, pray to keep it in your heart. If we fulfill our roles and responsibilities, the Lord will fulfill His side of the covenants we've made.

2 comments:

  1. Sometimes it puzzles me how women can get jealous of men because of the priesthood or think that there is some inequality. The way I see it is that the priesthood is there to be an opportunity for men to do good, to help others. It isn't there to lift them up or make them feel better than someone else. Only Satan would use the priesthood for that kind of purpose.

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  2. I really appreciate your perspective on this. And thanks for sharing that talk. It's now in my favorites folder.

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