|LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah|
FYI, this blog post is mostly theraputic for me. This has been bugging me for weeks.
Recently there was a meeting held for the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (8 years old and up). Megan and I watched it online tonight. It was a great conference filled with inspired talks, beautiful music, and opportunities to learn and grow spiritually.
Next Saturday and Sunday there will be other sessions, similar to this one, but for all members of the Church, not just the women. It will be an opportunity to hear a prophet of God, apostles and disciples of Christ, as well as some great women leaders in the Church.
Another special meeting will also take place on Saturday evening. This meeting is geared toward the men and young men of the Church (12 years old and up). Just as the women had a meeting just for them, the men have one with talks and messages meant to teach and uplift them in their specific roles in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You may have seen on various online news stories about a group of women called Ordain Women. Unfortunately, these women think they are missing out on something by not attending the conference session that is intended for the men and young men of the church. They have sent letters to the leaders of the Church insisting their admittance into the conference, and more saddening than that, they've insisted they be ordained to the priesthood.
If you are unfamiliar with this term, when I say "the priesthood," I'm not referring to men in black shirts with a little square of white at the neck. A fabulous book called Daughters in My Kingdom expresses perfectly what I mean by the term "priesthood."
The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God by which He blesses, redeems, and exalts His children, bringing to pass "the immortality and eternal life of man."
Heavenly Father's worthy sons are ordained to priesthood offices and are assigned specific duties and responsibilities. They are authorized to act in His name to look after His children and to help them receive ordinances and make and honor covenants. All Heavenly Father's sons and daughters are equally blessed as they draw upon the power of the priesthood.
Now, before anyone goes off on me and says these women are right, why can't they be ordained to the priesthood and be bishops and stake presidents (leaders of geographical units within the Church), read the words above again.
"...worthy sons are ordained..."
Simply put, this is the way God wants it. It's like when you were a kid and your brother got an ear infection and had to take the pink medicine that most kids think smells like bubble gum, but I think smells horrid. All the siblings want to drink the overly sweet bubble gum goodness (except me, ew) but your mom and dad and the doctor say no, it's for your brother with the ear infection, your ears are fine. The medicine will help him and him only as far as the ear infection goes, but it will help the entire family sleep better at night because he won't be up howling in pain.
Everyone is blessed by the priesthood, you don't have to be ordained to it to receive its blessings. Now for the part of the analogy that doesn't really work with amoxicillin, but that's ok.
When was the last time you saw a teenage boy serving someone simply because he saw a need and wanted to fill it? You don't see it too often, right? Now a teenage girl serving someone, that's not unheard of. Girls are more likely to see someone in need and register the fact that the person could use a friend, a plate of cookies, a girls night out, or someone to talk to. A guy sees someone in need and thinks, "Stinks to be that guy." Or, "I'm hungry, where's the nearest Taco Bell?"
Women were created to register the needs of others. It comes naturally. We read expressions better than men, we understand emotions better than men, we know how to help and serve more readily than men do. We organize blanket and coat drives, meals for families in need or families with new babies; we look for volunteer positions to make our schools and communities better.
For example, I was in charge of finding volunteers for the kids' group at the Family Crisis Center where I went to college. I quickly found at least 6 girls willing to help and only 1 guy. I part of an organization called the Service Center that helped all the different volunteer groups stay organized and kept the college updated on our needs, the community's needs, and our activities. Most of the leaders of the volunteer groups were female. For the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center where I also volunteered, there were no guy volunteers at all.
Women serve willingly. Women serve because we naturally reach out and find it easier to be selfless. Women become mothers, whether we have children or not, all women are mothers. What more selfless act can there be than devoting your life to husband and children to ensure a better world, or ensure the happiness of those we love? Yes, our lives are still our own and we do things for ourselves. I'm not saying taking time for yourself suddenly means you aren't selfless. Everyone needs time to recharge, take a break, and rejuvenate. (Please don't leave comments about how women need to leave their families and "find themselves" because that's a load of you know what. If you don't know who you are by the time you are married and have kids, that's pretty stupid because you're the only one whose lived with you nonstop for 20+ years and you shouldn't have gotten married without knowing who you are. How can you expect a spouse to know you and your needs if you don't know yourself, ok? But that's a post for another rant.)
How many guys do you know wash the dishes simply because the dishes are dirty and sitting there, needing to be done? How many men do you know would think to bring a meal to a sick friend? Or would offer to babysit so a friend can take a night class to finish a college degree? Or see a news story about refugees freezing and decide to start a coat drive?
I know women who have done all of these; some of them I've been the recipient of and others I've had the great blessing of being a part of. My friend Emily started a coat drive when she heard about Afghan refugees freezing during the winter months. A WOMAN at the post office asked what we were doing there with so many boxes and when we told her, she insisted on writing out a check to help with the postage. The only guy in line that talked to us had assumed we were selling stuff on ebay and only nodded his head when we told him what we were really doing.
Now, in case you are wondering what this has to do with the priesthood. . . . You can't use the priesthood for yourself. The priesthood is God's power on earth, used to bless His children and help them return to Him. The men and young men who hold the priesthood authority use it to bless others. They can bless and pass the bread and water to the congregation during sacrament meeting using the priesthood. They lead the Sacrament meeting and entire congregation, making sure everything runs smoothly, that everyone has a place, a job, that everyone's needs are met. The priesthood is used to baptize or when someone is sick it is used as they place their hands on the sick person's head and pronounce a blessing upon them to help them heal. The priesthood holder cannot give a blessing of healing to himself; he cannot pass the bread and water to himself, he doesn't ever use it for himself.
Guys don't always understand service, but they do understand duty. The priesthood helps men understand their duty toward their fellowman. It reminds them to look for service opportunities. The priesthood is God's way of saying, "Hey, you need to get in there and help out, too. Don't leave everything to the women, don't you see everything they are already doing? You learn stuff when you serve, you feel better when you serve, so go do it!"
The women who seek to hold the priesthood are acting in direct opposition to what the priesthood has been given to us for. They are selfish. The priesthood is never selfish. It cannot be used selfishly. In the Doctrine and Covenants (a book of scripture we use along with the Bible and Book of Mormon) the Lord says if a man tries to use the priesthood for vain reasons, including selfishness, or unrighteousness dominion, or any unworthy reason, then the heavens withdraw and "Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man."
Here is a great quote by President Uchtdorf on Priesthood. (The link on "quote" will take you to the talk this came from, the link on "President Uchtdorf" will take you to his wiki page.)
Brethren, we hold “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” It is the power God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. In order to exercise His power, we must strive to be like the Savior. This means that in all things we seek to do the will of the Father, just as the Savior did. It means that we give all glory to the Father, just as the Savior did. It means that we lose ourselves in the service of others, just as the Savior did.
See? It is impossible for the priesthood to be used selfishly. The women who insist that they know more than God, more than those He has placed as His mouthpiece, cannot possibly use the priesthood correctly or with authority.
I will never claim to be a feminist. You will never see me claim that women should have it all right now. Sure, I can have lots of what I want, but not all at once. Right now I have a fabulous family, wonderful husband, great kids, a college degree, and hobbies I enjoy and try to make time for. I have goals and dreams of things I'd love to do. I'd love to go back to college and learn more about a myriad of different subjects. I'd love to get a book published. I'd love to be a librarian. I'd love to teach English in a junior high. I'd love to stay home all day and just write and sew. I'd love to travel. But I can't do everything at once. I'd blow up. Not getting the priesthood doesn't make me less of a daughter of God, it doesn't make me less important, it doesn't mean I'm less loved. It means simply that I have a different role, a different responsibility, and different duty that He wants me to fulfill.
I'll leave you with a challenge to watch General Conference April 5 and 6. If you don't know how or where to watch it, go to your nearest LDS Chapel or www.lds.org