It’s that time again. Time for General Conference. And time for the Ordain Women group to begin protesting for the church to give women the priesthood and for most other church members to defend the church’s stand on women and the priesthood. I have tried to study both sides of the debate prayerfully and am writing this post to figure out exactly where I stand on the issue.
The discussion to me boils down to two things: Desires and Revelations.
“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.” – Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Ordain Women basically boils down to a desire of some women, both inside and outside of the church, for women to receive the priesthood. Good, bad, or indifferent that is what it is. This desire for the priesthood has become a priority for some women, and led to the choices and actions that these women feel will be most likely to bring about change that will help them become priesthood holders. I honestly feel that the basic desire for women to hold the priesthood is not a bad desire.
While I see no reason why women can’t hold the priesthood and understand the desire to hold the priesthood, I feel that the choices and actions of Ordain Woman organization show that they are too caught up in their desire. To the rest of the church that does not desire women to have the priesthood the Ordain Women program appears to just be a loud cry of “I want the priesthood! I WANT the priesthood! I WANT THE PRIESTHOOD! And I want it now.” Because of this loud outcry I have heard many women in the church who don’t support Ordain Women say the exact opposite “I don’t even WANT the priesthood. Why would I WANT the priesthood?” And as long as the majority of women don’t desire the priesthood, no matter how loudly the women who want the priesthood protest, Heavenly Father isn’t going to force the priesthood on women who don’t desire it. While desires are incredibly important as far as determining our priorities, choices, and actions, our desires aren’t as important as the Heavenly Father’s desires. That the lesson I learn over and over again whenever I study Jesus Christ in the Garden, “Not my will, but thine be done.” It’s probably the hardest lesson on so many levels. It’s so easy to lose track of the fact that it doesn’t matter what I want, Ordain Women wants, or women in the church in general want. It’s about what the Lord wants.
“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Article of Faith 9
I’m no expert, but from my basic understanding of the history of the church and the scriptures, I see no indication that women can never ever hold the priesthood. The priesthood has always been restricted from some people for whatever reason. In the Old Testament the priesthood was only to the tribe of Levi and only the first born sons of Aaron were able to lead the priesthood. In the New Testament the Gentiles were not given the priesthood until after Christ left the earth. And in the early days of the church “black males of African descent” were not given the priesthood. I don’t know why these groups of people were not given the priesthood throughout history, but I do know that each of these groups, through revelation, have eventually been able to receive the fullness of the gospel, and the priesthood, when they were ready for it. I know that there have been examples of righteous women throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the history of the church doing miracles, even without the priesthood. I also know that through covenants, some which I have not yet received nor do I fully understand yet, we as women are already able to receive the fullness of the gospel and the blessing of the priesthood, even though we don’t actually “hold” the priesthood.
So far it appears pretty clear that through revelation to His prophets, Heavenly Father has said “No” when it comes to women holding the priesthood. Or maybe it’s a “not yet”. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know what the future will hold. And I definitely don’t receive revelation for the whole church. I do know that I because I believe in the 9th Article of Faith, I can accept the current revelation concerning women and the priesthood and be open to future revelation as well. If at some future date the president of the church says “The Lord has revealed that women should receive the priesthood” I’ll say “Awesome!” and if that never happens I’ll be ok too. But I know that revelation won’t come as a result of a protest and it won’t come until we as a church are ready. I imagine it would be more like the recent missionary age change.
Ultimately whether or not women receive the priesthood doesn’t matter to me. What does matter to me is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. The Book of Mormon is true. We are led by a living prophet who continues to receive revelations from God. And that is enough for me.