I am 22 years old, graduated from Brigham Young University last year, and recently moved to New York to start my dream career in guide dog training! I have been Mormon since birth, a Mormon feminist since the age of 12 and an advocate for the ordination of women to the priesthood since my junior year at BYU. I believe that Mormon doctrine contains an immense amount of light and truth that is essential to the exaltation of humankind. However, I also believe that there are numerous doctrines that we do not yet know, and many others that we actually misunderstand, the doctrine of the priesthood being one of them.
I studied history at BYU, and took several courses in LDS Church history, which started me on the path to rediscovering the remarkable and revolutionary doctrines that Joseph Smith introduced in the early days of the Church. I realized that Joseph Smith had a far more extensive vision of the priesthood than we have today. He believed the priesthood to be solely a spiritual power—the literal power of God that purifies and sanctifies us, bringing us closer to the divine. Joseph Smith knew that the priesthood was a requirement for salvation, and, therefore, intended for all women to receive the priesthood along with men. He organized the Relief Society after the pattern of priesthood quorums, declared his vision for the Relief Society to be “a kingdom of priests,” and taught that the purpose of both priesthood quorums and the Relief Society was to prepare men and women for the holy order. When Joseph Smith was ordained to the highest order of the priesthood, his wife, Emma Smith, was ordained alongside him. Women performed healings and gave blessings through the laying on of hands in the early days of the church, and Joseph Smith articulated plans to give women even more keys of the priesthood in the temple endowment. He understood that both men and women share in the priesthood, just as they share in every other saving ordinance, as both men and women have the potential to become gods.
I believe that we have strayed severely in our understanding and use of the priesthood in the Church. We have come to see it primarily as a managerial and authoritative tool, we have systematized it, we have linked it to a specific gender, we have lost the focus on spiritual gifts, and most importantly, we have forgotten its true purpose: to lift us up, to exalt us, to help us become like God.
We need to drastically change the way we use and think of the priesthood in our church. I do not believe we will ever truly comprehend what the priesthood really is in this life, but that does not mean we should not try to. We know that the heavens are open, that God gives light and knowledge “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30) and that “He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (9th Article of Faith).
The LDS Church is a dynamic, evolving and progressing church, and we should acknowledge and celebrate that fact! We are working to create God’s kingdom here on this earth, and help each other attain exaltation. As such, we should constantly be searching for truth, and changing and adapting ourselves to progress further towards that goal. I believe that the resurrection of the holy priesthood the way that God revealed it to Joseph Smith, including the ordination of women, is a vital step.
I believe women should be ordained.