Saturday, September 14, 2013

Steadying the Ark

My previous blog post touched on some of the things I want to address here today.

As some of you may know, there has been a movement by a group called Ordain Women, who want the right to be ordained to the offices of the priesthood in the LDS church. This has sparked all sorts of bloggings in the bloggesphere, and also on Facebook.

This blog put it excellently, and I ended up posting the link on my Facebook page. Another friend of mine also posted this, and, sadly, only had negative comments on her feed. I could hold my tongue no longer!  I posted my response, hoping for a two-fold outcome: That it would add clarity to the murk, and give my friend the support I knew she needed.

Her friend, Helen, isn’t a member of the church, and made some assertions about how decisions were made by the First Presidency. Her theory was if they could change things like giving priesthood to blacks and discontinue polygamy practices, then why not change things and give women the priesthood? Who would it hurt?

Here are my words verbatim:

I would like to add my two cents, if I may! There are a few points that I think need some slight clarification.

In regards to Helen’s first comment, about how the presidents of the church have changed things. I think it is important to understand that when doctrine is laid before the body of the church it isn’t the First Presidency creating policy. Members of the LDS church believe that the Prophet is the mouthpiece of God. While the members of the First Presidency and the quorum of the twelve apostles are, in their own right, intelligent and wise, it is their duty to hand down doctrine in its pure, unadulterated form from God.

It is true that individuals are affected by their culture, and nobody is exempt. However, I feel that due to the humble nature of these men that they would do their utmost to put aside their own prejudices and biases, and humbly accept the will of the Father.

So, in view of this, it is vital to understand that when things happen in regards to practices in the church, specifically when African-Americans received the Priesthood, and when polygamy was no longer in play, it wasn’t the leaders of the church that were making these decisions. They were implementing revelations that came from Heavenly Father.  I’ll address the African-American idea in a minute, but in regards to polygamy, it wasn’t merely changed. It was removed from the earth. It was taken away. And, from what I understand, it was because the right to practice polygamy was abused by those who had no authority (and before you say it, those who were given permission to practice polygamy weren’t dirty old men. Polygamy has been practiced across the world for millennia, and even by Old Testament prophets. Western mentality has embraced the idea of monogamy, and that’s fine. I like monogamy, but that’s because, frankly, I don’t like to share.)

Now, the priesthood has an interesting history. In the bible, the priesthood was only given to the tribe of Levi. So, it wasn’t across the board that men could hold the priesthood. It was only given to a select few, that one tribe. Is that fair? I don’t know. It wasn’t up to me, it was up to God. The twelve tribes of Israel all had their jobs, if you will. The Levites job was to administer in the offices of the priesthood. The other eleven tribes had their equally important lots. Did this make the Levites better or more loved by God? I don’t think so. But God saw fit to do things in this fashion for his wise purposes, and I’m not about to argue with him.

In regards to our African-American brethren receiving the rights to the priesthood when they did, I am content to say that God is wise, and it was for a wise purpose. Does that make them lesser people? No. It seems that God feels it necessary to do things that we cannot understand. It is an opportunity for us to exercise faith, and trust that all things will work together for our good in the end. The African-American members I know who were there when the priesthood blessings became theirs have shown nothing but faith and gratitude. Never have I seen them angry or bitter towards God. They have faith sufficient to carry them through their “mists of darkness.” One of my favorite songs is “Lead, Kindly Light.” In it, it expresses the longing to be guided through blackness; “keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see.” There is so much we don’t see, that we don’t understand. But I truly believe that God has it all laid out.

Now, I’m all for equality for men and women. We are the beloved children of a benevolent Father who doesn’t play favorites. He loves his sons, and he loves his daughters. And I believe that our eternal destinies are so irrevocably intertwined that it makes it impossible for us to reach God without each other.

I know there have been men that abuse the priesthood, and use it to manipulate and exert power over those they have stewardship over. But, as the scriptures say, amen to his priesthood, meaning he has no authority or power from God. The priesthood is the authority to use the power of God here on Earth.

Can any woman in the church honestly say she cannot do this? Just because you aren’t ordained doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to call down concourses of angels to rush to your aid, or to heal a sick child, or to call down the powers of heaven for your husband or loved one. I believe that women are so close to God’s heart that he would deny them no blessing that the pure and honest heart would beg.

But, he has seen fit to bestow the leadership of the church on his sons. I don’t know why, but in my mind it is because it is their job. Just like the Levites in ancient times. It was their job to hold down the temple fort. It is the man’s job to hold down the ward, stake, mission. Women have their own domain. And it starts in the home, and works its way outward into every facet of the universe, into every calling, every member, every brother and sister in the world. What a marvelous gift and blessing!

I don’t feel diminished for not having been ordained in the priesthood. Having been through the temple, I know that I will receive every blessing my ordained brethren will receive and be a servant unto the most-high God if I fulfill my duties in all humility and excellence in this life. Being set apart to become a deacon, teacher, priest, elder or high priest isn’t necessary for my salvation. God has welcomed in his daughters without that ordination.

God has given me everything. What more could I want? Who am I to question his will? He knows what is best for me, he knows what is best for all of us. If he has seen fit to delegate responsibilities in a certain way, I will be the first to shout an adamant “Amen!”

The Ordain Women movement seems to have looked beyond the mark. They forget all that they have already been blessed with. Or, if they haven’t forgotten, they are discontent with what God has offered them, and that is a dangerous place to be. If they truly believe that the Prophet is indeed a prophet, and that God’s will is handed down from him, then why do they protest? Where is their faith? If they don’t believe that the Prophet or this other servants are speaking the word of God, then why do they want the priesthood so badly? If what the Prophet says isn’t true, then none of it is true, and their petitions are therefore senseless.

Who would it hurt to give the priesthood to these women? It would hurt them, strictly because they may be asking for something that isn’t theirs to ask for.

When the Israelites traveled through the dreary wilderness, they carried the Ark of the Covenant. Strict policy was in place in regards to it. None were to touch it except the Levites. If an unauthorized person were to touch it, they would die. Now, as it happened, one day, as they traveled through the rocky waste land, those carrying the Ark stumbled, and a man put forth his hand to steady the Ark. He was immediately struck down. Was his intention evil? Hardly. He was trying to help. But the command was given, and the law in place. None were to touch. But he did it anyway, and paid the price for breaking the Laws of God.

It’s a cautionary tale that we would all be wise to consider.

If it is in the best interest of His daughters, God will ordain women to the priesthood. But until then, I will refrain from steadying the ark, and focus my attention on fulfilling the tasks that have been given me personally, that have been given to me as a member of the church, and that have been given to me as a member of the tribe of Ephraim. That is enough for me. I have work enough to do.


FINDING PEACE IN 2012 said...

Excellent post! I fully agree. I remember reading a transcript of Pres Hinkley talking about blacks receiving the Priesthood and he told the media rep he was talking to that before that "there was no agitation for it" and feminist mormons are twisting this to mean that if THEY cause enough agitation, then it will create change. I seriously doubt that is what Pres Hinkley meant. I think it is the agitation from the Holy Ghost. I've felt it in my own life. When a course correction or change is needed, there is agitation from the Holy Ghost that makes me stop and ponder and pray about what needs to be different. And He always gives me an answer.

Prophets do not base their decisions on a common consensus. This church is not a republic or a democracy - it is a monarchy! And we would do well to remember who our King is!

It is interesting to observe that last conference a big change was made to the ages of missionaries. It was experimented with in other regions of the world quietly and instituted just as quietly. Were their protests to make this change? No! So why do people think this is the way to go about rocking the boat to create change! I loved your analogy about the levites and the Arch. Great example! I think it's a beautiful thing how the Priesthood keys are expanding to encompass more men. It is a necessary change as the stone rolls across the earth.

I loved your description of ways that women use the powers of heaven. Men and women do both have the Priesthood which is the power of God on earth: We both have the ability to draw on the powers of heaven. Some men are given keys in the Priesthood when in leadership positions. Men and women alike have the responsibility to labor in the vineyard under the directions of those with keys.

When I served in the Stake Primary, I felt equal to the other unit heads in the room, however, we were all accountable to the Stake President who had stewardship over all of us. In that calling, it became so clear to me how the organizations function so perfectly together for the strengthening of the family unit. One is not above the other, but each is necessary unit in our church.

Well, enough rambling... I should have written my own blog post I suppose! But it's fun to chat with you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kristin! I think you expressed it beautifully! It's amazing how many people are latching onto the whole "agitation" comment. I got involved in a HUGE discussion this afternoon with people about this whole issue. It's worn me out! Ha ha!

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