I am a laurel in the Young Women’s program and I am extremely active in the Mormon Church. I have been richly blessed with not only the opportunity to serve in many positions of leadership among the youth of my stake and ward, but also the ability to understand and live many of the gospel principles with which others falter. I know the gospel is true with all of my heart; however, one thing has been causing a bit of a spiritual roadblock lately: the priesthood. I was raised in a part-member family my whole life in which the priesthood was not present. Recently my family has had that blessing enter our lives as my dad was baptized. Now all of a sudden, I am expected to understand that principle as well. But I don’t. I have done all that I am supposed to do to get answers: pray, talk to my Young Women leaders, and read the D&C and Hebrews over and over again; however, the answers just aren’t coming. I understand the basics: men and women have different roles; not everyone can have it; women are to be submissive and raise the children; we can have it in our lives just as much as the guys through blessings; and not everything has a clear-cut reason and answer we can understand now. But I still feel confused. I know there is so much more to it. I almost feel left out, because as priesthood holders, men are God’s hands on earth. What a significant role–to be tied directly to God! And why was I chosen to be a woman in the first place; was I a less fit vessel? Am I really less fit to carry the priesthood than my dad, who understands little more of the gospel than the basics found in the six missionary discussions? I understand the men are no higher than women because we need each other to return to God, but it seems to me that women have no power or authority other than to proclaim, “I know this Church and all of its teachings are true.” I pray to have the faith and humility necessary to understand this principle, but the priesthood just seems so foreign: the only blessings I have ever received being my baby blessing, my patriarchal blessing, and one blessing for the sick. Please help,
Let’s address your concerns one by one: “women are to be submissive and raise the children.” Where did you ever get that idea about being submissive? Let’s look at the priesthood bearer’s responsibility in the home. As the family is the basic unit in the Mormon Church, it is to be presided over by a worthy bearer of the holy priesthood. Some people get confused between the worldly concept of presiding and the concept as applied to the kingdom of God. They are two completely different, unrelated concepts. The only similarity is that they use the same word. In the kingdom and in administration in the home, the following scripture applies:
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
By kindness, and pure knowledge (D&C 121:41-42).
There is no such thing as dictating, imposing one’s will, or making arbitrary decisions. If the husband or father tries to use the worldly concept rather than that of the kingdom, his priesthood authority becomes inactive:
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 (D&C 121:37).
“I almost feel left out, because as priesthood holders, men are God’s hands on earth.“
The man and the woman are equal before the Lord. To the woman goes the responsibility for the physical birth and for the training and upbringing of the children. To the man goes the responsibility for the spiritual birth and for the training and upbringing of the children. No more could a woman baptize a child than could a man bear a child. If you reflect for a minute on these two significant births, which do you think requires more preparation, exacts more from the parent, and exerts a greater influence on the child?
“What does that leave for me? Do I have to go to a worthy priesthood holder to feel that power every time . . . or can I ever be so close?“
You seem to imply that priesthood is some sort of badge of honor. Although it is a highly honorable designation, it is not a badge of honor, rather it is a commission to be a servant. Since the involvement of the woman in preparing for and in nurturing children is so demanding and so exacting, it would be extremely difficult to also manage the affairs of the kingdom in the structural organization of the Mormon Church outside the home. Not to have the responsibility to function in a priesthood capacity is actually a blessing for the woman rather than something demeaning. Besides that, if women were to take over the priesthood also, men would be left with little more than being a drone. Sisters, give the brethren something!
“Am I really less fit to carry the priesthood than my dad?”
Of course you’re not less fit, but neither is your dad called to bear children. He has as much right to complain about that as you do about not holding the priesthood. If you know more about Mormon Church service and administration than does your father, that does nothing to diminish your obligation to love, honor, respect and obey him, not because he now bears the priesthood ,but because he is your father. Rather than being chagrined, you should be elated that he has chosen to covenant to come into the kingdom and serve the Lord. He will learn soon enough all that he needs to know to carry on the work of the Lord. You might reflect a bit on the broken bow incident in 1 Nephi 16. When Nephi broke his steel bow on which the family depended for food while they were fleeing in the wilderness, his whole family was angry with him. Even his father, Lehi the prophet, began to murmur against the Lord. However, Nephi’s faith sustained him and he fashioned a new bow out of wood and made some new arrows that would fit the strength of the bow. Although he had been the food provider up to this time, and certainly knew where to go to find food–in other words, he knew more than his father did about how to provide for the family, he did a very interesting thing. He asked his father where he should go to hunt food! That was a mark of honor and respect rather than a plea made out of necessity. Can you imagine how that restored Lehi to his place of honor in the family? You have the opportunity to do the same thing as you are kind and submissive to your father in his new role as priesthood bearer.