Archive | June, 2014

Comparing the Present to the Past

30 Jun

There has been a lot being said about the Ordain Women movement and the actions regarding Kate Kelly. I am not going to make a comment on that directly. Rather, I would like to comment on something that I have seen and read in many blogs that are made in her favor and support. That is the comparison of this current movement to the ending of Plural Marriage and the lifting of the Priesthood ban on the black race. Before I continue let me point out that I am not discussing the details of either doctrine. This blog is not for the purpose of dissecting either. Rather I am comparing them to the current movement.

There is only one thing that I want to point out, as I don’t want to take too much time with this. Both plural marriage and the ban on the priesthood were changeable from the beginning. let us examine this.

Plural marriage has never been a fixed practice. God states in Jacob 2: 30

For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

God here reserves the right to give or retract the practice. When he commands we have plural marriage, and when he withdraws that command we don’t. This was established under Joseph Smith, which is why the practice was on a low scale in Nauvoo. So, when Wilford Woodruff gave the manifesto, what ever the reason was, it was not in opposition to the doctrine of the church. It was something that God had already made clear was a possibility.

Regarding the ban on the Priesthood, in the very declaration we read that President Kimbal and his counselors were

Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood

Clearly God has always intended to lift this ban, and thus the event was not a change in the doctrine of the church. Even Brigham Young said the “time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more” (Brigham Young Papers, Church Archives, Feb. 5, 1852; as quoted in Encyclopedia of Mormonism).

Now we have the Ordain Women movement. There is no place in the scriptures or in the words of past leaders that can be said to indicate that women would ever be ordained in mortality. There isn’t even a hint of it. It is well known that that those who receive exaltation, whether man or woman, will have the priesthood, for we are promised to be priests and priestesses to God. But that has never extended to this life.

While the Ordain Women movement can rightly compare themselves to those who fought against the church, they cannot rightly compare what they are asking for to what has happened in the past. They are demanding something that the prophecies and revelations do not support, and never have supported.

 

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Woman and the Church

9 Jun

Recently there has been a lot of news regarding the “Ordain Women” movement and it’s pressuring the church to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood. I have said nothing myself during the height of all this fuss, but I feel to do so now. I do this now because the excitement and reactionaries have had their say and all that is generally going to be over and done with, so that now I can comment with less risk of attacks from either side of the issue and thus allow for better discussion.
To be honest I know very little about the movement itself. I have never been that interested in such things and so I have not actually looked into the people involved or what they have been doing. I vaguely recall something happening on Temple Square during the last conference, but that is it. All I have a real understanding of is that what they want is priesthood ordination for women.
So, let us first look at history, in particular the Bible. You see, the Bible is full of great women of great faith, just as much as great men of great faith. Just as the men look to the examples of these ancient brethren to know how to act, so too should the women look to the examples of the ancient sisters. So let us briefly look at a few.
The first, and in my opinion, the greatest example is that of Eve. Chosen before the world was ever made to be the wife of Adam, the archangel, and to be the mother of all living on the earth. When cast out of the Garden of Eden Eve submitted to Adam. It was Adam that performed the sacrifice, though Eve was present on such occasions. When the angel appeared, he appeared to Adam, but Eve was glad.
The next great example is Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Abraham left the land of his birth and Sarah followed. He traveled into Egypt and she was with him. When it became apparent to her that she would have no children she gave Abraham a second wife so that he might. When she did finally have her son Isaac we have no indication that she objected to Abraham offering him as sacrifice when commanded.
Of course Isaac’s wife Rebekah gives a great example of a woman who not only had faith and left her family to marry a man she had never met, but when she had a question did not hesitate to go to the Lord herself in prayer. When she felt the enmity between her unborn children she asked of God, and she had such faith that God spoke to her and revealed the future relations of not only her sons, but of their descendents.
The Bible is full of such examples. Rachel and Leah who left their father’s house when Jacob told them God’s command; Hannah, who prayed for children and was willing to give her first son to God, and was later blessed to be the mother of the great prophet Samuel; Deborah, who had the gift of prophecy and was so strong in her faith that Israel would not go to war unless she went with them (she judged Israel for many years); Ruth, who left her family and obeyed the counsel of her mother-in-law in seeking a new husband; Esther, who braved the court and stood up to Haman in order to save her people. In the New Testament we read of Mary, the mother of Christ, who was a woman of great faith; Mary and Martha, the two sisters who followed Christ faithfully; and Mary Magdalene, who was the first to ever see the resurrected Lord.
All these women showed great faith and great strength, and all of them honored the priesthood of their husbands. They all have one other thing in common. We are given no indication that any of these women ever once expressed a desire to be ordained to the priesthood. They were not only content in their lives, but all indications are that they found joy and glory in fulfilling that which the Lord had given them to do in this life.
There is one, however, that we do know did not share this attitude; only one woman in the entire Bible that seems to have sought the priesthood for herself. That woman was Miriam, the sister of Moses. Miriam also had the gift of prophecy and she led the women in the camp. But, together with Aaron she murmured against Moses, desiring to have the authority he had. Let us look at the actual account, as recorded in Numbers 12: 1-15.

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses…And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not also by us? And the Lord heard it.

What are they saying here? They are arguing that they are just as good as Moses, and that God has spoken to them just as much as Moses and so they should hold the same authority in the camp of Israel that Moses did. This is what God heard and later rebuked. He actually called Moses, Aaron, and Miriam out before the tabernacle and there chastised the two for daring to speak against Moses. Then, when he is done with the verbal rebuke God leaves…

And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.

Aaron pled for Miriam and Moses asked God to heal her. To this the Lord replied…

…If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

So Miriam was leprous for a week before being admitted back into the camp.
A few notes on this account: when they are said to have spoken against Moses Miriam is listed first, indicating that she was the leader, or instigator of the conflict. However, when the Lord speaks to them it is always Aaron that is addressed first. Also note that in order for either Aaron or Miriam to have the same authority as Moses they would have to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, as it is through that priesthood that Moses had his authority. Lastly note that Aaron was not struck with any ailment, but was merely verbally chastised.

At this time I will let others draw what conclusions they will. I will simply state this: If God wants to give women the priesthood He will, and no amount of organizing and protesting is going to force His hand. While I doubt He ever will in this life, I am not going to protest if he does. However, given that only one woman in all the scriptures ever made a bid for the authority of the priesthood and was struck with leprosy for doing so, I think those engaging in this current movement could take a cautious warning from Miriam before they get too adamant.