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Queens and Priestesses (some thoughts for a Sunday morning)

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Sometimes I get items in my Google reader that are later deleted or somehow unavailable. This was the case for a blog post on Segullah: http://segullah.org/daily-special/queens-and-priestesses/. I don't know why it's gone - surely the content is not objectionable?

Here's the full text, since I thought it was an interesting essay.
Queens and Priestesses
via Blog Segullah de Frances le 27/02/10

My opinion about the issue of women and the priesthood has always been that it’s less a question of “if” and more a question of “when.” And I do not mean this in a heretical, militant or extreme sort of way. To me, it has always made logical sense that, at some point, women’s ownership of the priesthood will even out with men’s.

(There is, in fact, a legend about me in my mission that, when a certain elder asked me what I wanted for my upcoming birthday I responded, “The priesthood.” I do not remember this happening, but would not be the least bit surprised if it had.)

As it stands now, I think women already have more ownership of the priesthood than we realize. We see glimpses of our power to act and bless others in the name of God in the temple, in our callings and in our families. And though it is often obscured or confused by an unnecessarily and often patronizing man-centered church culture, I have always believed that God values and loves me as His daughter every bit as much as he values and loves His sons, and that His desire to use me as a tool and vessel is every bit as great.

So in my mind it only stands to reason that, at some point and in some way, God would give women the same power He has given men. Certainly the way men and women use that power might be different, but I categorically refuse to believe there is something inherent about the qualities of being a man that makes men better stewards of the priesthood. Not to mention that I even more categorically refuse to believe there is something inherent about the qualities of being a woman that make women too righteous or pure to need it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is sexist baloney.

Now that you know how I feel about this issue, you will understand why the following experience came as something of a shock to me.

A week or so ago I attended a small discussion group where the speaker was W. Grant McMurray, former president of the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Brother McMurray spoke about a number of fascinating things that could probably supply blog post fodder for months. But of most interest to me was the discussion of women and the priesthood in the Community of Christ church. Women have been ordained to the priesthood in that denomination since 1984, and currently serve in church leadership positions including the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.

And would you believe that when I heard that I flinched and felt a knot in my stomach and a scramble in my brain. Something about it just plain did not feel right.

But something about that not-feeling-right feeling didn’t feel quite right either. Why, after so calmly and confidently awaiting the day when women would gain greater ownership of and action in the priesthood in my own faith, did I bristle at the mention of women already having received those things in another?

I didn’t like that my response was so negative—not one bit—but I also couldn’t seem to conjure up another one. And I still haven’t.

It could be, I suppose, that I have had it wrong all along. Maybe the part women play today in the priesthood of God is our better part, and it is up to us to maximize it, embrace it and boldly act on it and share it even in the face of a church culture that makes it heartbreakingly difficult.

Maybe, as they say, this is as good as it gets.

And maybe “this” is better than I realize.

Or maybe even my own socialization, habits and patterns are so ingrained that the jump from intellectual acceptance to practical application did not occur in the way I expected. Maybe the words, “A woman in the first presidency” didn’t sit quite right with me because I had never heard those words spoken out loud. Which is not to say that they shouldn’t be.

In short, perhaps my own journey is not as close to complete as I believed.

What I do know is that my own reaction to a real-life example of women exercising the priesthood surprised me, and frankly disappointed me a little bit. I am still unsure why it happened that way, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts. Can you see and accept a day when women in our own faith are equal to their brothers in the priesthood? Or have I gone totally off the reservation here?

On the upside, I do still very much know that in the eyes of God, I am no different, no less, and no more, than any of His other children. And I do still very much believe that the Lord trusts me as much as anyone else to serve and bless His children in the same way He would. Intellectually it still makes sense to me that taking hold of some portion of the priesthood is the best way to make that happen. But in practice, I guess I still have a ways to go.
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On February 28th, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC), curieuse commented:
That *is* interesting!
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On February 28th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I think we already have the Priesthood, although I hope we can come up with a more elegant term than Priestesshood. Interestingly, I have also had a negative reaction to a CoC presentation that illustrates the practice of it, but I chalk that up to the possibility that theirs is an organization no longer led by revelation (I know that doesn't sound nice, but I don't have time to polish it right now). I think you can do the right things in the wrong way, I guess.

While I think "equality" is a lazy mischaracterization of feminism, I personally feel that much of the inequality/subordination LDS women complain of is self-inflicted. I neither feel nor act inequal to my Bishop, Stake President, or Home Teacher, and I am not treated like a lesser being, either. It is a fairly rare occasion that some schmuck actually feels and acts superior, but that is their problem, not mine.

Interesting post, though. The comments should be fun when they put it up.
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On February 28th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC), mysteena commented:
Very interesting. I can understand that bit of a twinge, at the idea of women actually practicing the priesthood today. I share a lot of her opinions, the "some day" line of thought. Yet when I went on that trip with my sister, and she was in so much pain, I couldn't bring myself to lay my hands on her head and attempt to give her a blessing. She needed one so badly, and I know that women have done such ordinances in the past, and I believe that healing can be through faith and not just priesthood power. Yet, when it came down to the moment, I had that twinge, that nagging doubt that maybe it was not an appropriate action for me to take. Much like the blogger who wrote the entry you shared, I'm not sure why I felt that way.
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On March 1st, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC), themenow replied:

After our Lutheran pastor talked about the body of Christ working together and going to the elders of the church and asking the elders to pray with and for them, I actually asked my pastor to take a moment and pray with me and one of our church council members. This isn't something that Lutherans do. They might say they will pray for you, but to stop right there and actually do it, much less hold hands or put a hand on your shoulder, is downright foreign. I could see the questions on the faces of the pastor and my friend, but they went on ahead and did it.

I think anytime we are asked to step into an unknown or unexperienced realm of our beliefs can cause confusion. But I think it's healthy confusion. It might spark something inside us and make us dig into our faith and why we believe what we believe and ask God, if it's His will, to show us a different perspective.
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