Monday, September 30, 2013

My Response to the Ordain Women Movement--An Open Letter to My Daughters

Author's note . . . when I wrote this a couple years ago, it was according to my best understanding at the time. And although I continue to stand behind most of what is written, I have come to understand since then that women DO have priesthood authority and it is this priesthood authority that allows women as well as men to participate in the work of salvation. I will write more about this at a future date, but for anyone interested now, please check out the talk given at General Conference by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2014, The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.

Dear Daughters,

In regard to all the chatter about the ordain women movement, there are a few things I hope you will keep in mind.

First—Remember our purpose here on earth. We are here to learn to become like our Heavenly Father so that we can return to live with Him and qualify for all the blessings that He has to give. Our goal truly is to become like God. We do this by following the example of His Son and diligently striving to develop His attributes.

Motherhood and the Relief Society program are both part of a woman’s spiritual tutorial in Godhood. As we selflessly give of ourselves as mothers and learn to love and serve others through the Relief Society program, we are developing godlike attributes—charity, patience, selfless service, sacrifice, kindness, humility, knowledge, just to name a few.

Fatherhood and the Priesthood are the spiritual tutorials for men to help them develop godlike attributes. As they serve as fathers and in their priesthood responsibilities, they too are developing charity, patience, selfless service, humility, knowledge etc. Both the Relief Society program and the Priesthood are separate but equal opportunities for every person to specifically learn to become like our Heavenly Father in ways that best benefit each gender. One is not better, neither is one less. They both have the exact same purpose, and both, if applied in our lives, will help us obtain the exact same blessing—Eternal Life.

Second— The oath and covenant of the priesthood found in D&C 84, not only pertains to priesthood authority, but also to priesthood ordinances. Although women are not ordained to priesthood offices, and therefore do not have priesthood authority, through their righteousness they may receive every blessing available to men—in the exact same way men do—through making and keeping priesthood ordinances and covenants.

Therefore, when the scripture says “whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods . . . “  (D&C 84:34) it not only refers to men who obtain priesthood authority through ordination, but ALL people of BOTH genders who obtain priesthood ordinances.

The ordinance of the Aaronic Priesthood is baptism. This is available freely to men and women equally. The ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood are the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinances available in the temple. All of which are available equally to women as they are to men. The only qualifier is personal righteousness.

The blessings of receiving these priesthood ordinances are exactly the same for men as they are for women—both are promised Eternal Life with our Heavenly Father, or in other words, God’s life—with all power, knowledge and authority that He has.
A man is not promised more or less than a woman, and a woman is not promised more or less than a man. And in fact, Godhood, the crowning blessing on the covenant path, is ONLY available to a man and a woman TOGETHER who have been sealed in the temple, and have honored their covenants through magnifying their callings—as mother and father, and as a woman and a man. No man can obtain it alone, nor can any woman.

Third—A word of caution. Again, remember our purpose here on earth is to learn to become like our Heavenly Father by following Christ’s example. In the pre-mortal world, when Heavenly Father announced His plan for our progression, the Savior willingly submitted to His Father’s will and agreed to be our Savior, with the glory going to the Father. However—by willingly submitting to God’s will, the Savior obtained all the blessings of Heavenly Father, which included glory, power and authority.

Satan on the other hand, was not willing to submit and sought to overthrow God’s will in order to obtain personal power and glory. Yet, in the end he found himself outside the plan of salvation without any power (that we don’t give him over us) and without any glory. When we strive to impose our will on God for our personal glory and gain, we will in the end, like Satan, lose everything.

In conclusion--The ONLY way for any of us to have power, authority and glory, the ONLY way to have happiness in this life and in the next and the ONLY way to have Eternal Life—the greatest of all the gifts of God—is through developing Christlike attributes through the making and keeping of sacred priesthood covenants. And one of the very best ways to keep those covenants, and therefore develop those attributes is through our gender specific God given tutorials—priesthood authority, the Relief Society and parenthood.



LeAnn said...

Beautiful thoughts that ring true in every way.
Thanks and blessings to you!

KMN said...

Thanks Mom! Such a great response!

Another thought I've had is that since this life is to practice our roles and prepare for our future ones, if we don't do what we're supposed to do now, we would be uncomfortable with what we're supposed to do after this life- and in that case, exaltation wouldn't be a very comfortable place to be...

Thanks for writing this! Love you!

carly said...

Sister Wagner,

My name is Carly Huchendorf, and I don’t know you yet. I’ll be joining the Guadalajara mission in December, so we are merely Facebook friends at this point. Because of this, I hope that it is not inappropriate for me to post here on your blog. My only interactions with you have been through email and reading the mission blog, but through these interactions, I have felt that you are a very loving person with genuine care for others and the gospel. I can also sense that in this blog post; however, as I have very warm sentiments toward the OW movement, I feel as though I should respond to a few of your points.

You first offer that our purpose on earth is to become like our Heavenly Father. You then suggest that women do this through motherhood and Relief Society while men do this through fatherhood and Priesthood. I deeply appreciate your parallel of motherhood with fatherhood. I don’t think these are paralleled enough in our religious discussions. But I don’t believe that Relief Society is a true parallel to Priesthood. Priesthood is the authority and power of our Heavenly Father given to men to use righteously on earth. Relief Society, in contrast, is not a divine power or authority, but rather an organization. For it to truly parallel Priesthood it would need to be the power and authority of our Heavenly Mother given to women to use righteously on earth. While both the weekly Priesthood meeting in church and the Relief Society meeting are parallel in their structures and intentions to teach us divine attributes, they are not equivalent in their authority.

I’d like to address your second and third points together. You offer first that while women cannot have the authority of the priesthood, they can take part in the ordinances. This is true, but it is this very point that OW is inquiring to our leaders about. Why is it that men can act with the authority of God, but women cannot? I don’t believe the scriptures or our leaders have provided an answer to that. By inquiring for that ability to act with God’s authority, these women are not seeking to obtain power and glory like Satan, who knew God’s will but rebelled against it, but rather they’re seeking to act like Christ, who sought to know God’s will and use His authority to further build the kingdom on earth. It hurts women to suggest that with the same power that men have, they would only seek titles and personal glory, while men seek only the will of the Father. There are areas of the world in which there are more female members than male, and they do not have enough priesthood holders to run their sacrament meetings or lead their branches. Would it not be wonderful if the righteous women who are already active participants in these wards were able to serve in those needed leadership roles? It is true that men and women cannot attain the celestial kingdom without one another; it then seems reasonable that both should play an equal part in bringing it to others while on earth.

I hope I have made my point clearly and respectfully. I did not intend this response as an argument, but rather as a suggestion of some points you may not have considered. I respect this movement because I believe it is following Christ’s counsel that when we have a question, especially one that deeply effects our lives here on earth, we have but to knock and He shall answer. I think this movement is trying to respectfully knock and wait for an answer.

Shannon said...

Beautifully written. Thank you!

Kristin Klein said...

Well said . . . we are here to learn how to follow the example of the Savior through developing his attributes, by taking his name upon us, by bearing one another's burderns, by standing as a witness of God, and by keeping the commandments. We progress by making other covenants with our Heavenly Father. None of which require women to exercise the specific authority of the Priesthood. As in all things . . . our Heavenly Father blesses us with those things we stand in need of . . . not everything we want. Just speaking for myself . . . things don't usually turn out well when I seek to counsel my Heavenly Father

Rozy Lass said...

That was so eloquently written!! And Carly's comment needs to be addressed. The Priesthood Quorums that meet on Sunday at the same time as the Relief Society are not some powerful group of authoritarian men. They meet to learn to serve the membership of the church through their assignments, just as the women meet in RS to learn to serve through their assignments. Have you been through the temple yet? A woman is endowed with as much priesthood as any man, but at this time it is not operable. What would women DO once ordained to the priesthood? Don't we have enough to do right now? Most of us don't want the responsibilities that come with presiding. Believe me it is not glory and adoration. It is hard work, and putting up with whining and complaining, back-biting and gossip, worry and despair over those whose choices make their lives (as well as their families) miserable, and then they want YOU to fix it all up. Do you want to give priesthood blessings? The prayers of righteous and faithful women, wives and mothers have resulted in as many miracles as any priesthood blessings. If the prophet felt it was needed, he would be asking HF, pleading and begging for this revelation, as Pres. Kimball did for the extension of the priesthood in 1978. What need is there for an extension to the woman? It is not needed; and will never come by way of lobbying by a bunch of discontented sisters.

Jay and Jan Peterson said...

Amazing Lori!! You are so inspiring and articulate.

Handsfullmom said...

Beautifully stated -- did you feel like you were being quoted the last two days? :)

Jenny Hatch said...

My thoughts on this topic:

Brenda said...

In an effort to counter the recent negative media and publicity surrounding LDS women, I developed this webstie: The hope is to have the majority voice be heard through profiles of Mormon women. It is just up as of a few days ago. Whether I can get the word out and make a difference is yet to be seen but I am doing what I can. I have a very limited range of influence.

If you feel this website has value, will you pass it on to those with more of an outreach than I have.

I am trying to use my time, talents, and means to do something positive. Thanks!

Brenda Hebert