Header

“The great plan of happiness revealed to prophets is the plan for a happy family.
It is the love story between husband and wife, parents and children, that renews itself through the ages” (Boyd K. Packer).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Priesthood

Some women have a problem with the idea that men in the Church hold the priesthood and that women don't.  They often think of it as being unfair - a way of keeping women down and placing men in positions of power and authority.

It is, I believe, a lack of understanding about the true purpose of the priesthood that leads to these feelings.

When we talk about the power of the priesthood, we are not talking about the power and authority of men.  We are talking about the power and authority of God.  The ability to heal, to ordain, to bestow blessings - that is not something that is inherent in mortal men - that is a divine characteristic that can only be shared by God when and how He chooses.

When men in the church receive the priesthood, they are given direct access to that power.  BUT there is a huge caveat.  It is not to be used for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others, and they must maintain certain standards of worthiness.  Men are given a charge, which is a responsibility or a stewardship, to use God's power to bless the lives of others.  For themselves they can do nothing.  Have you ever heard of a man giving himself a priesthood blessing?  That not only sounds ridiculous to a member of the Church, but it probably looks ridiculous.  Why?  Because we know the actual power is not coming from the man, but from God.

Others equate the priesthood responsibility to officiate in church leadership positions as a clear sign that women are second class citizens in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I consider it merely a divinely appointed division of labor.
Women are given special charge to bear children, to nurture others.  Women seem to have natural managerial and nurturing instincts that help them in this calling..  In their make-up, women have a unique need to care for others that is not as readily apparent in men.  Look at any traditional family unit and more often than not, you will see that women are the main caregivers in the home.  This is considered the traditional role and there is a reason that traditions have developed this way over time.  Spouses have generally drifted to the area in which they are better qualified to contribute to family life.

However, our God teaches us to love and serve others.  If women, with their natural instincts to help, ruled the world, I truly believe that men would find very few opportunities to serve.  Think of how often in a ward women are frustrated with what they see as the inept way in which the priesthood handles their responsibilities.  I have often heard women complain that priesthood-planned events are sub-par and not as well organized or carried out.  While it may be true that a dinner planned by the priesthood may have no sign-up sheets, tablecloths, or real dishes, those are not necessarily good reasons for women to take over these responsibilities.

With the men holding the priesthood, women  have opportunities for growth that they would not otherwise have.  They have the opportunity to sit back and let someone else serve them.  They have the opportunity to learn patience!  I think if men did not have that divine authority in our Church and family lives, women would take over all areas, run themselves ragged, and we would inevitably see the destruction of functional society.

The Priesthood is not a mandate to be in control, it's a charge to serve.  It provides men access to opportunities to exercise their unique abilities to serve, while at the same time allowing them to grow in their abilities in a way that would not be possible otherwise.

While I believe that there are certain logical reasons for men to hold the priesthood, I believe that it rests on more than just logic.  I believe it is part of the eternal order of things.  That, too, makes logical sense to me, but it is a little more difficult to explain just why.  In the grand scheme of things, men and women are different.  They just are.  There is no competition between the two.  Sort of like how can you have a competition between a dolphin and a cheetah.  One is better at swimming, the other at running.  But they are both incredibly beautiful creatures.  They each have a role to play in their ecosphere, just as men and women have their own roles to play in morality.

As our understanding of each other's roles improves, our abilities to better fulfill our own role increases, and great happiness will result.