The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes many claims about the importance of priesthood. It also claims that conferral of the priesthood is only to be given to men, only needed by men, not women. Why is that? Yet when LDS leaders actually talk about priesthood’s power in relation to men’s spirituality and the special gifts it holds, their messaging seems to be describing things that are good qualities and attributes for all people, for anyone who seeks to be a good disciple of Christ. So what is it about men that they need the priesthood boost whereas women don’t? What do men lack that seems to be inherent in women?
In the spirit of inquiry and clarity rather than in service of an agenda related to priesthood conferral upon and ordination for women, this episode features a discussion about such things between Ian Thomson and LDF host Dan Wotherspoon. They discuss specific messages by leaders as well as the kinds of explanations one often hears in LDS circle that employ some form of “gender essentialism,” which hinges on essential differences between men and women, as part of the reasoning. Yet no real explanation for a men-only priesthood emerges when pressed. Such things are usually asserted rather than examined or argued for. Ultimately, this sort of approach to justifying the exclusion of women from priesthood (essentially saying they already have the spiritual qualities and don’t need ordination) leads to a need to really ask fresh what, exactly, is priesthood? Is priesthood “power” distinct from priesthood “authority”?
Do our current teachings about priesthood rely on scriptural precedent? Do practices from early LDS history and within Mormonism’s own scriptural record match with what we see today regarding a universal priesthood for all men? Is there a place for non-priesthood-ed men within the church? Is that even conceivable within today’s church assumptions? What role do cultural notions, especially older ones, play in keeping us today from asking important questions in these and other areas? If we are here on earth to thrive and grow spiritually and ultimately develop as God has, it sure would be helpful to understand what priesthood is.
Listen in! These are important things to think about.
Dallin H Oaks, “Truth and the Plan,” October 2018 General Conference
Todd D. Christofferson, “Let Us Be Men,” October 2006 General Conference
Russell M. Nelson, “Ministering with the Power and Authority of God,” April 2018 General Conference
Henry B. Eyring, “The Priesthood Man,” April 2014 General Conference
Frances Lee Menlove, The Challenge of Honesty: Essays for Latter-day Saints by Frances Lee Menlove, (Signature Books, 2013)