Hi, I’m Ceci. I was born into Mormonism and I have always been a believing member. I married a returned missionary in the temple and we have 5 children. I was a stay-at-home mom. I have always had a church calling and tried to faithfully serve. I would consider myself a traditional Mormon woman. Being brought up with defined male/female roles in the Mormon Church, the concept of a woman having the priesthood seemed wrong when I first heard it. I have changed my mind after studying the scriptures and church history. I now believe that Joseph Smith restoring the priesthood to only men was indicative of the customs of the early 1800’s.
We are all, male and female, created by a God that says, “and all are alike unto God,” (2 Nephi 26:33). That scripture is not in keeping with the current organizational structure of the Church. The Church allows males to be the final voice in ALL decisions made within the Church organizational structure and within all church-related relationships including marriage, because they hold the priesthood, the ultimate authority in Mormonism. The Church is maintained by that archaic, rigid system of male priesthood authority. Males in this church decide all policy (with possible input from female members), but with NO obligation to listen or adhere to any advice given by female members. Males have the expectation that they will be obeyed in any decision that they, as men, make because they hold the priesthood. This use of authority within the church does not live up to the belief that “all are alike unto God.”
A debate on a righteous priesthood holder is another point of contention. Who decides who is righteous? No one is completely righteous. That is why we are here on earth: to learn to make righteous decisions. A belief that a decision is a righteous decision does not always make it so. The direction given to “follow” a righteous priesthood holder is fraught with problems. “Following” someone because they tell you that their decision was made in righteousness without knowing for yourself defies the law of agency. It means that within this structure, women will never be masters of their own souls.
One common reason I hear for why women do not holding the priesthood, is that Joseph Smith did not restore the priesthood to women. In February of this year the Church History Library Director, Keith A. Erekson, had an article in the Liahona addressing concerns about recently disclosed facts about church history.
“In the study of history, the absence of evidence is not a valid cause for doubt.”
– “Past views differ from our views on work, family, public service, and the role and status of women and minorities. Every temporal aspect of human experience changes over time in ways both small and great.”
– “Frequently, so-called problems with the past are actually just bad assumptions made in the present.”
– “As a result, we can adjust our assumptions to recognize that all prophets are mortal and therefore have imperfections. We can feel grateful that God patiently works with each of us. Admitting the errors in our own thinking is sometimes the most difficult part of understanding history.”
– “When new sources are discovered that provide new insight into things we thought we knew, it requires humility to revise our understanding.”
These statements are made in reference to recently disclosed troubling facts from church history. You can now view gospel essays on some of these topics at lds.org. Despite the acknowledgement that Joseph Smith made many mistakes, which include not disclosing the the practice of polygamy to his wife, Emma, practicing polyandry, using secrecy and coercion to convince teenagers to enter into marriage relationships, just to name just a few, the Church has no problem declaring that the gospel is 100% true despite those mistakes.
Isn’t it possible that Joseph Smith got the role of women wrong along with the many other mistakes he made? It doesn’t make sense that church leadership is doubling down on the exclusion of women from priesthood roles because “Joseph restored it that way” while making room for new doctrinal concepts based on recently acknowledged errors in church history. While revising our understanding to include all the history that was hidden, shouldn’t we revise our understanding of policies made at a time when women were objects owned by men?
James E. Talmadge said, “The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding. And it has been wisely said that the man who knows only half of any question is worse off than the man who knows nothing of it. He is not only one sided, but his partisanship soon turns him into an intolerant and a fanatic. In general it is true that nothing which cannot stand up under discussion and criticism is worth defending.”
I believe that women are worthy and capable of holding and honoring the priesthood of God. I believe that this doctrine needs some discussion. I believe that Joseph Smith excluded women from the priesthood because of how he viewed women based on his environment. For these reasons I believe that women should be ordained to the priesthood.