Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Take on Women Seeking Ordination to the Priesthood

Please note that I am not an official representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I am a lifelong (and very happy!) member of it. This blog, Enthusiastic Fantastic, is all mine. I don't have outside contributors. I don't have brainstorming sessions with others, although I'll occasionally run an idea past my husband. No one has ever asked me to write anything. No one has paid me to write anything. Even though I've signed up with AdSense, I've only "virtually" made $0.26* for the entire time I've been posting on this blog—which makes me chuckle! (*That amount was current as of the original date of this post.) Besides the advertisement boxes, I own every bit of content you find on this blog—minus the quotes I've shared. :)

For a long time I've put off publicly writing my feelings about this whole "women should be ordained to the priesthood" protesting saga that has been happening between some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The main reason for my silence is the fact that I've seen what mean and hurtful things have been written on other people's blogs who speak out about any particular social topic. People can be so rude and downright mean to anyone who doesn't share the same opinion as they do. I have a very hard time with unkindness! Also, I think the online meanness that any one of us can experience on a daily basis, has escalated to the point where people are afraid to share their opinion at all. It's a very sad state of our society.

The other reason I've been hesitant to speak out is due to the advice given in Proverbs 21:23. It's another one of my favorite scriptures! :)

{I was pretty excited to use buttons in my typographic design this time! You know the idiom, "Button it!" Yeah, I couldn't resist!}




That said, the ordain women movement has been a great annoyance to me for the past year. So, after reading two articles this past Friday, I decided to finally be brave and add my thoughts.

One article I read discusses the power of telling the truth, and the other one was the letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that was addressed to the Ordain Women group leaders. Side note: I'm still stunned that Ordain Women is planning a protest at General Conference, April, 2014! Seriously, what the what?! Anyway...

*Oh, and before I continue, I'd like to express my sincere love and deep gratitude for the multitude of blessings that have come to me through the priesthood blessings I've received throughout my life. I am immensely happy to be married to a worthy priesthood holder. My priesthood-holding husband has blessed me, and our children, more than I ever could have imagined! :)

First off, I'd like to share what my church defines priesthood as:
"The word priesthood has two meanings. First, priesthood is the power and authority of God. It has always existed and will continue to exist without end (see Alma 13:7–8; D&C 84:17–18). Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He exalts His obedient children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39; see also D&C 84:35–38). 
Second, in mortality, priesthood is the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. The blessings of the priesthood are available to all who receive the gospel. (“Priesthood AuthorityHandbook 2, Administering the Church)"
Good, I'm glad we're clear on what the priesthood means to me and my church. :)

Several months ago, I wrote and posted a poem on my private blog. (Do I still call it a poem even though it doesn't rhyme?! Ha ha.) I'll share it here, but without the current pictures of my children. (I may seem silly, but I still have major privacy concerns. I know, I know, then why am I still publicly displaying my life online? Well, it's because I feel like I am supposed to share my thoughts/views with the world. So, I share!) I also want to discuss a little more deeply as to why I don't believe women should be—or need to be—ordained to the priesthood.

Creation, Sustenance and Influence
by Adrie Peterson

I am a woman...like the magnificent Eve, who—during the creation period—was the very last being created on Earth.
I have been given a body that does whatever I wish.
I have been given the gift of creation.
In this supreme body, I have been given the opportunity to create pure and holy vessels for God's children to come to earth and live.

I choose to honor my Father in Heaven.
I marry a righteous man for eternity who blesses our lives with the priesthood. Our tremendous love for each other allows us to become parents.

This splendid body of mine produces the sustenance needed for those perfect little bodies to grow in health...they become strong because of me. A baby's cells multiply and divide millions of times as a direct result of my never-ending sacrifice and bodily efforts.

As a mother, I am selfless love's highest form.

When babies are no longer physically attached to the marvelous gift that my body is, I am continually able to influence their precious tiny souls as they grow. They look to me for knowledge, direction, comfort, pleasure and peace. Through the years, my influence might be taken for granted. Eventually, those priceless souls feel the pull of their fondest memories and the invisible cord leads them back to me.

I gently guide His children...my children...toward heavenly attitudes and actions.

Our Father in Heaven has entrusted me with assisting Him in His most wondrous work and glory. There is no need to ever ask for more...
He has already given me the greatest responsibility of all: creation.

Before some readers become annoyed at me, please let me explain that I fully understand that some women have not been given the beautiful gift of motherhood, thus, they might feel like they've received the short end of the stick in the terms of Heavenly gifts. For I believe that motherhood is the crowning gift from our Heavenly Father. Yet I feel like I can understand those childless women's pain—to some extent—because I was spiritually shown multiple times that my little family was completebefore I was ready to be done creating children.

I would have loved to have at least one more child—if not two or three more children! To this day, I still fight back tiny tears when I see a newborn baby. And when I'm alone, I'll frequently let some of those tears fill my eyes. How's that for honesty? Thus, I feel like I have a smidgen of understanding for those women who deeply desire to create children, but haven't been able to.

As we all know, sometimes in life we simply don't get to do what we want, or have the righteous desires of our hearts. Sometimes, we are given additional answers as to why our Heavenly Father's answer is "No.", but many times we won't find out the answers until after we return home to heaven. I don't know exactly why this is the case, but I suspect it has everything to do with our mortal challenge of faithfully enduring to the end well.

I know one of the reasons why some people in The Church feel like it's time for women to hold the priesthood, is so women can also bless the lives of others through priesthood blessings. Blessing the lives of others is a totally righteous desire! To them, I say this: Women can absolutely bless the lives of others in countless ways! Those blessings don't have to come only through the priesthood.

It's up to each of us how we choose to spend our time. Even though women don't hold the priesthood, there are so many ways we can contribute to The Church and society as a whole. Women can pray and have magnificent prayer experiences (I've personally witnessed miracles from my prayers), serve and lead in their church callings, serve in the temple, serve everyone around us, participate in fasting and contribute fast offerings monthly, have a career that makes a positive impact, serve as a missionary for The Church, etc.. The possibilities and opportunities are truly endless! :)

Now onto men and the priesthood. I truly believe that men were absolutely given the responsibility of the priesthood, it is meant for them! And I don't mean that in a disrespectful way to women. Again, I simply believe women were given the responsibility to create and grow our Heavenly Father's children. Similarly, that statement is not meant to be disrespectful to men!

Of course, I've heard the argument that fatherhood and motherhood are exactly the same, thus men have one more heavenly blessing—in holding the priesthood—that women don't. Yet, I don't see it that way. Fatherhood is so very important for the benefit of all children. Every child deserves to be raised by their mother and father! But I feel motherhood goes one step beyond fatherhood.

The connection that a mother holds with the child in her womb is quite unique to any other relationship. (Granted, we all know that a baby is conceived because of a woman and a man. Women can't create children alone, and neither can men. Men and women are truly so blessed to have each other!) It's because of the intense womb-time that women and children spend together (and the subsequent early-childhood years) that they have an inseparable connection to each other.

I have happy tears when I remember my three children in my womb—thankfully at separate times! Ha ha. Those 27 combined months were some of the very best in my life, which is saying a lot because I puked at least twice a day, every day, for 21 weeks of those months! (I still double curse morning sickness!) I will always remember my babies moving inside of me. Their individual personalities were clearly evident even before they were born! :) And I'll never forget that glorious moment when I pushed my sweet little babies into this beautiful world and they were laid on my chest. No experience will ever compare to the amazing conception, development and birth of my three children!

But back to worthy priesthood-holding men...they are a glorious blessing to and for our society. It's because of them that stunning and amazing miracles are brought to pass every day.

To those who say, "Women deserve to produce miracles too!", I respond with this: Women create miracles every day with the conception, birth, and raising of their children! Every child is a miracle! Women are already a huge part of the heavenly, miracle-creating process!

Why, then, would Heavenly Father not allow men not be able to produce miracles as well? How would it be fair to men if women were a part of two miracle-creating processes: motherhood and the priesthood? Talk about the potential for inequality! No matter how much a man desires to be the vessel of the miracle of life, he simply can't grow and sustain a baby inside of him like a woman can. Therefore, the priesthood gives men the wonderful opportunity to be vessels for miracles too.

Even though I've presented my feelings as to why women don't need to be ordained to the priesthood, some might still totally disagree with me. To them, I say it all comes down to this:
  • Our Heavenly Father created, and has given us, an eternal plan to follow.
  • Jesus Christ was chosen to be our Savior, so we can return to our Heavenly Father and live with Them again.
  • We agreed to our Heavenly Father's plan, as is evidenced by our actually being on Earth with our precious bodies.
  • If we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it means that we believe it is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ.
  • If we are members of The Church, it also means that we support what Joseph Smith presented when he founded The Church.
  • Our baptism into The Church means that we support and sustain The Church's leadership and the way they run The Church.
  • If we don't support or agree with the leaders of The Church, we can calmly and rationally express our opinions, but it's not up to us to change the doctrine of The Church—only the First Presidency of The Church can do that. To further clarify my point, I recommend reading, watching, or listening to, "The Doctrine of Christ," by Elder D. Todd Christofferson.
*Update 03/23/14, 5:11 p.m.: After reading a comment from one of my readers, I realized that I needed to further clarify what I wrote in the previous bullet point about "changing the doctrine of The Church". No, the First presidency can't just up and change the doctrine to be whatever they want it to be. Only the Lord can change the doctrine of His church. I believe in, and fully support, the 9th Article of Faith which states, "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." I also completely agree with Elder Christofferson's quote, "This [the 9th Article of Faith] is to say that while there is much we do not yet know, the truths and doctrine we have received have come and will continue to come by divine revelation." That was indeed the point I was trying to make: The Lord will reveal those truths and doctrines to the prophet/apostles, and they will be presented through the First Presidency. To continue that idea, later in his talk, Elder Christofferson said, "...in the end, just as in the New Testament Church, the objective is not simply consensus among council members but revelation from God. It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord."
  • If we have received an answer to our question/problem/request from The Church (as the Ordain Women group received on March 17th, 2014), we have the option to either listen to and follow what they say, or not. If we completely disagree with the answer we've received from The church, we have the option to leave The Church altogether. I truly don't want anyone to leave The Church, but everyone has their free agency. Everyone can make their own choices.
What I hope is that those protesting church members will see the miracle of motherhood as I do. I hope they will appreciate the great value and beauty of womanhood. Womanhood stands alone, even without motherhood or the priesthood!

Women are so blessed to be women! Men are so blessed to be men! We were created differently on purpose. Men and women were created to compliment each other, especially in marriage. We need each other. We are meant for each other! We can create and participate in miracles together!

I just truly don't believe women need the priesthood as men do.

Even though the responsibilities of men and women are different, those differences do not make us unequal. Every man and woman is equal in the sight of our Heavenly Father. All are alike!
2 Nephi 26:33:
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
Lastly, I'd like to share this BYU Devotional, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," by Ezra Taft Benson. When he gave the talk, he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I really wanted to just copy and paste the 14-point summary of his talk, but I don't want to infringe on copyright laws. Instead, I will strongly encourage you to read every word of his fabulous talk!

Elder Benson beautifully presented his case that every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should absolutely follow the current prophet, for the prophet is the only person on Earth who speaks for the Lord in everything. He also brilliantly stated,
"How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness." 
"If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain."—meaning the current president of The Church.
We would do well to follow his counsel. And now, I rest my case! :)

P.S. I love that I finished my post just in time for me to go get ready for church!

*Update: As I wrote this blog post in 2014 and life is always changing, I want to include this update from the Church. In 2015, the Church published an essay titled, "Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women." It's definitely worth a read! Also, check out their additional resources on the right side of the page. There are many other articles to delve into. :)

3 comments:

  1. I agree with you Adrie! Except I believe that not even the First Presidency has the ability to change doctrine. Only the Lord can do that. The prophets are simply the tool the Lord uses to advertise His will. That is what completely baffles me about this whole Ordain Women thing. If these ladies (and I assume gents too) truly understood the way the Lord works, they would know that they cannot simply petition the Church's prophets to change a doctrine! It makes me sad, but I feel that their testimonies are on VERY shaky ground if they truly believe this can happen simply from protest, etc. It must be God's will. To some it may seem "unfair" but we do not understand, or are capable of understanding, all of God's ways. I have received my own witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, hence the entire Church is true, hence President Monson is a prophet and is carrying forth God's will. I am content with whatever the Prophets instruct, including the fact that women cannot hold the priesthood! Thanks for being brave and posting your feelings about it. I too feel like sometimes I am scared to voice my opinion because it is not the loudest opinion out there. Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Denita, thanks for commenting! I completely agree with what you wrote. In my eagerness to be on time to church today, I didn't thoroughly explain what I meant in my second to last bullet point. I just assumed everyone would understand what I was talking about because I included the link to Elder Christofferson's talk. Thus, I've made the necessary changes in my post that will hopefully clarify what I meant. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Firstly...

    I have some confusion as to why those protesting members in the ordain
    women movement would feel at all slighted in regards to "Women deserve to produce miracles too!"

    Besides the fact, as you, Adrie have already so eloquently pointed out, quoting you: "Women create miracles every day with the conception, birth, and raising of their children! Every child is a miracle! Women are already a huge part of the heavenly, miracle-creating process!"

    Plus...there's the whole Spiritual gifts are blessings or abilities given by God to His children through the power of the Holy Ghost...

    NOT just the priesthood.

    Gifts of the Spirit are given to bless and benefit those who love the Lord and seek to keep His commandments.

    EVERY faithful member of the Church has at least one spiritual gift, and the Lord encourages His children to “seek … earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given”

    And...as we see in Corinthians 12:10...the Doctrine and Covenants 46:21 and Moroni 10:12...the working of miracles is a gift of the Spirit. A Gift of the Spirit which IS available to worthy women as well.

    So are these protesting members in the ordain women movement looking at the priesthood as a self-indulgent, ego-feeding power-trip of preening privilege? Is THAT what they see as the club they want to get into? Because then they are looking at it wrong.

    In Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 we read:
    34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
    35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
    36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
    37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

    In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints women have the primary responsibility of having babies and raising children as mothers who with love and understanding and patience and sacrifice lose themselves in service.

    Priesthood holders with love and understanding and patience and sacrifice lose themselves in service. Sounds pretty equal to me. If the women did both, (priesthood and giving birth/raising children) us guys would only be brought in from the pasture by the ring through our noses to breed. And we would not grow spiritually at all. And that is the key: These are opportunities for men and women to grow spiritually. BOTH stewardships are to help us all develop Christ-like qualities of character.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from my readers! :)
*Please note: any inappropriate comment will be deleted.*