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.

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6 Responses to “Woman and the Church”

  1. robinobishop June 17, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    That Is quite persuasive. Where some in Ordain Women might find themselves excommunicated, I surmise each of them would gladly take the plight of Miriam In exchange, once they contemplate the matter.

    I asked my wife, who is unfamiliar with the movement, if women in the church should have the opportunity to gain the priesthood, she had the response that I expected. After a moment she asked me what she could possibly do with it that she didn’t have available at present (with me being her husband for 43 years, converts and sealed the last 30). I was at a loss to answer her as clearly as she was at a loss for the answer herself. She saw great peril in the notion and was quite unsettled by it Vanessa will supply the background of the group’s activities.

    If I’m not mistaken, we have another woman in the Old Testament that should be mentioned in the light of your conversation. Isaiah identified his wife as a prophetess. He really knew how to complement a lady.

    • robinobishop June 17, 2014 at 12:35 am #

      I use Dragon dictation software and sometimes errors creep in that I don’t catch manually. Please don’t search the Scriptures for a “Vanessa”; I don’t know what Dragon was thinking when she interpreted that.

      • shematwater June 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

        I was wondering about Vanessa. Could you explain your original intent here.

        I read about the possibility of excommunication, and my first thought was “What did you expect?” I actually find that the biggest problem of the entire movement is how it is affecting the membership in general, and how others are viewing the Church.
        Recently I read someone comparing Kate Kelly (the founder of Ordain Women) to Galileo and the church leaders to the Catholic Inquisition.

  2. robinobishop June 18, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    I have read your “about”. We share the same experiences online, except I don’t have the time in my poorness to publish online very much.I just do it with my comments. My time is dominated with my pursuit of my doctoral dissertation (curriculum and instruction).

    “Recently I read someone comparing Kate Kelly (the founder of Ordain Women) to Galileo and the church leaders to the Catholic Inquisition.”

    The web is a great artificial equalizer. We have critics of the church who enjoy instantaneous credibility while simultaneously being anonymous and duplicitous. Most successful ex-Mormon bloggers of my experience are still members but project themselves as outside the walls.Blogging against church might enjoy some clarity, some truth. But I’ve come to discover pretty clearly that their hearts collectively are dark and that they no longer have the capacity for the real church reality. What happened to me in two blocks created this stark irony to Kate’s bizarre assertion that “simply asking questions” is getting her excommunicate. These critics of the church were so offended at my questions and so offended at the factual evidences I presented about the apostasy for both Kate and that other fellow… Direct quotes coming from both of them indicating that neither of them had a modicum of testimony that the churches in any way true.

    So what we find now in today’s technology is an Internet that gives voice to people from all walks of life and didn’t have a voice before. They can draw parallels between Kate, Galileo, the Roman Catholic Church, and the LDS church without knowing a lick at any one of them and be a magnet to others that want to play the same game.

    Unlike Galileo, the apostates we listen to (you and I) will generate no momentum within the church. If it should, to the extent it disrupts the faithful, it has been prophesied and there will be a burning sooner or later. Galileo is not nearly known for the persecution he endured from the Catholic Church as he is known for his contributions to science that eventually could not be denied. unlike Galileo, the loudest haters have nothing really honorable behind theIllusions of their accusations and would not even be noticed by much of the membership of all without the new technology of the Internet providing free information about their efforts. In spite of that were all are being inundated with more data than we want to consume and Kate will have a short half-life and real little threat to the faithful. We all have to just get used to the greater access of those haters.

    I have been out there visiting these ex-Mormon blogs, these atheist blogs, that attracts Mormon haters with the mistaken belief that the light that I could shine to those people would get them to question the dialogue that was bouncing around their heads. Now I’ve come to understand that the answered all of this for people like us is not to become discouraged by their darkness, but to understand that the some of the “lurkers” on these blogs are quietly being reached Through the Spirit when we show up and have the courage to be abused for having a different point of view based on believable facts.

    • shematwater June 19, 2014 at 12:35 am #

      “Direct quotes coming from both of them indicating that neither of them had a modicum of testimony that the churches in any way true.”

      I am not sure I would go that far, but I have noticed a trend that I feel explains things very well. They are both said (over and over and over) to love the church and not want to leave it. I think that is the real problem. They love the church, or the visible organization, rather than loving the gospel and loving God.

      • robinobishop June 19, 2014 at 4:31 am #

        That’s right. Seems paradoxical to me. Most often from my experience they say they’re caught up in the culture, the gathering, and the people out of one side of your mouth. Out of the other side, in print, they are saying typically the Joseph Smith is a fraud and that all prophets and revelations and all scriptures coming from him are fraud as well. Additionally, I am seeing that few of them if any of them have settled anywhere worth mentioning after losing the faith…if you know what I mean. Some harvest a four dollar a copy e-book revenue through a blog that creates sympathy and book sales. That’s the result, but they become quite offended At the suggestion. I mean, settling isn’t talking incessantly, spending a Miserable missionary experience in a miserable place that happened 20 years ago. That’s not settling down to an untroubled place.

        I know several of these blogs I’ve visited can be loosely described as therapy blogs. To reiterate your missionary story or the terrible abuse your received at home, or the fact that you have discovered later in life that you are truly gay and feel rejected from their Mormon family and write about it week after week month after month for decades so that they can get sympathy from all those that happen to walk through the blog, telling you how outrageously courageous you are, (then many of those flat leaving) doesn’t seem like the path to self-help.

        Then there is Kate who seems so determined to be excommunicated, overtly insulting bishops, state presidents, general authorities, and prophets. She actually wants to be excommunicated in absentee by a meeting of men. I suppose as a young attorney who specializes in women’s issues, she wants to gain notoriety and a special following for supposedly having been so wronged. That’s what I think is happening. The real tragedy IN my mind is that these people keep to their tight knit circles circulating bitterness, escalating biased hatreds through their own imaginings. To me they seem like a diffused virtual mob. The 150 women who attempted entrance into the priesthood session becomes 1000 in their blogs. I apologize for carrying on.

        “the previous tirade by RobinOBishop may not represent the sympathies of the blog owner” signed, the management.

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