Here is a quote, from the Joseph Smith Papers, speaking to the Relief Society:
“Said all difficulties which might & would cross our way must be surmounted, though the soul be tried, the heart faint, and hands hang down must not retrace our steps that there must be decision of character aside from sympathy that when instructed we must obey that voice, observe the Constitution that the blessings of heaven may rest down upon us all must act in concert or nothing can be done that the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood, hence there should be a select Society separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous and holy. Said he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day as in Paul’s day that it is the privilege of each member to live long.” Joseph Smith Papers
When you read this, what is your reaction? If you are a woman, do you feel proud of your ability to belong to this organization? Do you feel a large amount of responsibility in belonging to the Relief Society? Do you feel like you can do better, feel blessed or think that you need to reread it because your not quite sure what you just read?
There is one organization that is sure that what they are reading is a prophecy that has not been fulfilled. They call themselves “Ordain Women,” and they are a movement that seeks to petition the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints to allow female members of the church to be ordained to the same priesthood as the males members who are worthy. This group of people is made up of both women and men.
On their webpage they state that “Mormons” are resistant to allowing women to hold the priesthood because of “Lingering patriarchal patterns, though increasingly contested, still inform Mormon policies with regard to familial and institutional governance. Priesthood has become so associated with maleness that it is difficult for Mormons to see it apart from gender. For many LDS women, asking them if they want to be ordained is like asking them if they want to be men. This was not always so, however. According to the 1842 minutes of the Nauvoo Female Relief Society, Joseph Smith’s original intent was to make of this Society a kingdom of Priests . . . Unfortunately, this vision for the women of the Church was never fully realized. Ordain Women asserts that priesthood must be re-envisioned as a power that transcends gender and is exercised by both men and women for the benefit of all.”
In an article entitled The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: Priesthood, the Word of God, and the Temple, we are taught:
1842, the women of the Relief Society learned of the vital role they would play in the kingdom. Joseph Smith further taught that there existed certain signs and words by which false spirits and personages may be detected from true, which cannot be revealed to the Elders till the Temple is completed.
By 1843, the temple’s full import and design seem to have crystallized in the Prophet’s teachings. The doctrines of sealing and of becoming kings and queens, priests and priestesses were often discussed. Joseph Smith taught that except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection, 31 nor can they obtain the highest degree of the celestial glory. (see D&C 131:1-4)”
When viewed in this context is it safe to assume that women have already been given the authority of the Priesthood as promised in the 1842 meeting?
I have heard all of the excuses such as “Men need the priesthood, so they have to serve, where as to a woman it comes natural,” and “Women have babies…” and so forth, but is there a doctrine that states that woman cannot baptize? Is the priesthood a chauvinistic power? I don’t believe that women are incapable of baptismal abilities just as not all men cannot serve as a woman. I have seen more women take advantage of blessings and priesthood blessings and temple attendance than men. I see the women of the church honoring and being faithful to the present state of the priesthood order. So why the constant push of mortals to chance and “progress” the Gospel?
I do not know the mind of the Lord. I know that I can find the teachings and decide if I will follow or not. I can decide if I agree or not. I know that I can petition the Lord for answers to His will. But as for changes to His gospel all I can say is it is his. And as a person studies and ponders this and any other aspect questions by members and non alike I suggest you gain testimony of this simple principle as taught by President Hinkley:
“Now may I say a word concerning loyalty to the Church.
We see much indifference. There are those who say, “The Church won’t dictate to me how to think about this, that, or the other, or how to live my life.”
No, I reply, the Church will not dictate to any man how he should think or what he should do. The Church will point out the way and invite every member to live the gospel and enjoy the blessings that come of such living. The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein.
When I was a university student, I said to my father on one occasion that I felt the General Authorities had overstepped their prerogatives when they advocated a certain thing. He was a very wise and good man. He said, “The President of the Church has instructed us, and I sustain him as prophet, seer, and revelator and intend to follow his counsel.”
I have now served in the general councils of this Church for 45 years. I have served as an Assistant to the Twelve, as a member of the Twelve, as a Counselor in the First Presidency, and now for eight years as President. I want to give you my testimony that although I have sat in literally thousands of meetings where Church policies and programs have been discussed, I have never been in one where the guidance of the Lord was not sought nor where there was any desire on the part of anyone present to advocate or do anything which would be injurious or coercive to anyone.
The book of Revelation declares: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15—16).
I make you a promise, my dear brethren, that while I am serving in my present responsibility I will never consent to nor advocate any policy, any program, any doctrine which will be otherwise than beneficial to the membership of this, the Lord’s Church.
This is His work. He established it. He has revealed its doctrine. He has outlined its practices. He created its government. It is His work and His kingdom, and He has said, “They who are not for me are against me.” (2 Ne. 10:16).”