Monday, October 7

The City of Enoch and Female Ordination

This is going to be controversial.

But hey. (Gay) Mormon Guy already addresses the most volatile topic in modern culture - being Mormon and gay. What's some tangential controversy?

I was on Twitter during Conference this year, participating in the livetweeting with thousands of other members, when I learned about the protest that was staged by a handful of women outside Priesthood session. At first, I didn't really have time to think about it - when the prophets are speaking, nothing else really matters - but today I pulled up an article about the protest and actually looked up their site.

The focus wasn't getting into Priesthood meeting. (They didn't - just like Relief Society meeting is designed specifically for sisters in mind, Priesthood is designed for brothers. Seats at Priesthood to attend in person are reserved exclusively for them.) It was attracting public attention with the hope that women would be ordained to the Priesthood.

There's a lot of things I could write about this, but this afternoon, while researching doctrine for work, I found myself wondering about the doctrinal evidences that would preclude or support this issue. I think I found a few.

1. The first is resurrection. Christ taught, and we have supporting evidence in the form of modern interpretation of His word, that all ordinances must be completed before the resurrection. It was in the "neither are men married nor given in marriage" context of explaining issues to the Sadducees. I could look up talks that support this interpretation of His words, but I'm crazy busy. I know it's in Jesus the Christ.

The result is that, if, like claimed on their website, women need to be ordained to the Priesthood in order to return to God and be like Him, this would need to happen to all women before their resurrection. With men, Priesthood ordination is required even before the temple endowment can be given, which is required before a temple sealing can be performed. Even if we made the assumption that ordination was a higher ordinance than marriage (and hence would be performed after temple sealing... which is not an option in my mind, since temple marriage is said many times throughout scripture to be the crowning ordinance), or believed that it was part of a separate, non-linear track of required ordinances, it would still have to be done before the ordinance of resurrection.

Matthew, in his gospel, describes the resurrection and includes a part that explains:

"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

This was the beginning of the first resurrection, composed of the people who had completed all the necessary ordinances and had lived faithful lives... who were resurrected with Christ at His own Resurrection.

The same thing happened in the New World - and it was so important that Christ reproved Nephi for forgetting to include it in their record.

"And it came to pass that he said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept. And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said: Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so? 

And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled. And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
 
And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.

And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded."

We know that Priesthood ordination of women was not practiced during the time of the Nephites, and from history that it was not practiced among pre-Christian Jews in Jerusalem. If this was an essential ordinance, lacking such an ordinance would preclude their rising from the dead. The preclusion of female ordinance does assume that "many saints" includes both men and women, but, at least in my limited perspective, it would be grossly unfair for a God to make a wife wait extra thousands of years while her husband had been resurrected, only because God had not yet revealed an essential ordinance to salvation.

2. Since there is the potential that all the saints resurrected at the time of Christ and in the thousands of years since were, in fact, male (though I think that quite unlikely), the next issue is translation. This subsists upon the same basic principles as resurrection; both are physical changes in the body that take place under the influence of the Spirit that are required before an individual can permanently reside in the literal presence of God.

The City of Enoch was translated. Zion included men and women. The assumption, that essential ordinances would need to be completed before they could have physically been taken to Heaven to live forever in the presence of God, is pretty simple. That's the one with which I concur. There are doctrinal questions with this one, too - for example, we don't have specific evidence that children (who would not have had saving ordinances performed) were not included in the translation of the city, except in the case of Enoch's own progeny. On that note, we could use the reference that the people of Zion won't return to the earth until the Second Coming... and that all translated beings, if it has not happened sooner, will be resurrected at the time of the Second Coming... and if they haven't had essential ordinances, then they won't be resurrected. And exceptions usually become the rule if they are more than 50% (like in Zion - married women and children, if present).

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So yeah. Those are my thoughts. Women play an essential, unique role in God's Plan as outlined in modern doctrine and supported by living prophets. I do not think that their ordination to the Priesthood is essential for their eternal salvation, or for the Church to accurately fill their needs as women.

13 comments:

  1. Totally agree. If we ever think things are going to be equal between men and women, we don't understand that each have distinct characteristics. AMEN.

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  2. I don't entirely agree, but I greatly admire the respectful tone of your post as well as your scriptural support. If everyone took such a studied approach to controversial church topics, the prominent Mormon feminists wouldn't receive death threats.

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  3. "I do not think that their ordination to the Priesthood is essential for their eternal salvation, or for the Church to accurately fill their needs as women."

    But do you believe that women are equal to men in the Church?

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  4. Honestly, I think that women hold a significantly higher place in the Church, and often in God's eyes and His relationship with them, than men do. Other than anecdotal stuff (which only carries with people who believe me already), most of the evidence I've found I reserve for the Celestial Room. Simply, in my mind God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called... and supports each of us through angels (living and not) that enable us to better accomplish His will.

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  5. David,

    What about Deborah? (Judges 4)

    Most men who have lived on the earth have not had the priesthood either. Only since the Restoration have all worthy males been given the opportunity to hold the priesthood.

    Women exercise the priesthood in the Temple, where they perform ordinances for other women. Also, in the early days of the Church women administered to the sick just like the Elders. So there are precedents for what they are asking.

    I don't see what they're doing as a protest as much as I see it as a petition to the Brethren to ask the Lord.

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  6. While I understand where these women are coming from with the desire to be equal in the priesthood to men. Women do not need to be ordinated to call upon it when needed. Being ordinated is only necessary in my humble opinion to running various parts of the church, the passing of the sacrament, and performing marriages. None of which I feel women really need to concern themselves with. I kind of think this is tied into the whole "Wear pants to church" movement. I have worn slacks many times without fear or being shunned. These women need to just accept that the church is how it is on the priesthood and leave it be. We have more important things to concern ourselves with in these days.

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  7. This explanation of the gifts and sacred ordinances of birth and mortality through woman alongside the sacred Priesthood ordinances of salvation presided over by men in mortality, is the clearest and most harmonious I've ever read.

    http://mormonscholarstestify.org/1718/valerie-hudson-cassler
    I absolutely love that our God is a god of order and love and has stated from the very beginning that "it is not good for man to be alone." We need male and female to receive all the blessings of mortality and eternal life.

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  8. Thank you for posting this!!:) It was exactly what I needed to hear!:)

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  9. Thank you for the respectful tone of this post, but I have to offer up a correction. The objective of the event on the 5th WAS to get into the Priesthood Session, not a thinly-veiled attempt at getting a bigger public image. I participated in it as a male ally myself and you're just misinformed if you think it was just a stunt. Also, I have to make the distinction that it was not a protest, but rather an event, an action.

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  10. Andrew -

    I don't think that it was a thinly veiled attempt; Kate and the movement have been very open about their goals. My comments were based on Kate's personal remarks. I'll include them here.

    "this isn't really just about going to priesthood meeting... This is about the ordination of women to the priesthood."

    "We consider ourselves to be prospective priesthood holders and we want to go to priesthood meeting so we can show our leaders that we are ready for both the benefits and responsibilities of the priesthood. That is our focus."

    (as reported at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865586996/LDS-Church-responds-to-priesthood-meeting-request-by-activists.html?pg=all pulled Oct 11 2013)

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  11. David, I loved reading your perspective on this issue and agree with you. I admire your ability to read and understand the gospel. Keep up the good work. :)

    Regarding the comment by Neal:
    The scriptures never say Deborah held the priesthood, only that she was a prophetess. Any man or woman who has the testimony of Jesus has the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10).

    This last conference addressed the issue quite clearly, for me: Both women and men have access to the power of the priesthood by making and keeping covenants with God.

    Elder Ballard said:
    "men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman"

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  12. Thanks David for such a great post!

    I wanted to briefly follow up on coxwebdev's comment regarding Neal.

    As a temple worker we learn that women ordinances receive their priesthood authority through the Temple President. Therefore, they 'exercise' the priesthood but do not hold it. The wording in women's temple ordinances reflect this.

    Women in the early days of the church did administer to the sick by the laying on of hands. But it was not through the priesthood that they did so. They administered to the sick according to their faith.
    See: http://josephsmithpapers.org/topic/laying-on-of-hands

    It can be debatable if Deborah held the priesthood as a 'prophetess'. To be a prophet or prophetess is to have the spirit of prophecy. It does not reflect the priesthood office of a person. For example, Thomas S. Monson has the duty to prophecy over the entire church but His actual priesthood office is an Apostle.
    See: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/apostle

    For these sisters who are seeking to hold the priesthood, I hope that they know that they are highly valued, respected, and loved for the major roles which they take on as sisters, wives, and mothers. We need more of them in society today.

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