Women don’t have the priesthood, you silly sods

The Exponent seems to produce the most comment-worthy articles on Mormon feminist topics. Today’s article on women and the priesthood provides an overview of various viewpoints on whether or not women have it or not, and the article wisely avoids taking a stance but, in Exponentish fashion, invites the readers to comment. My answer is an unequivocal no. I didn’t believe women had the priesthood when I was a rabid zealot, and I don’t believe it now that I’m a dirty apostate.

I always rolled my eyes at women who claimed to have some form of priesthood in a bizarre, esoteric, non-literal sense. Look, darlings, if only women showed up for church, what would you be able to do? Not much. You could pray and have a spiritual thought, perhaps. But you would not be able to call sacrament meeting to order, conduct ward business, bless and administer the sacrament, bless babies, ordain new priesthood holders, deliver official messages from Salt Lake, collect tithing, take attendance, or anything else that constitutes a real church meeting. The men don’t just hold priesthood keys — they have the physical keys to get in the building, so without the men you can’t even get into the building. I’ll believe that these women really think that they have the priesthood when they inform the Bishop that they will be performing their 8-year-old’s baptism.

The author quoted one of the more convoluted and problematic statements that you hear many pseudo-feminist Mormon women spout:

Some Mormons I know draw a distinction between priesthood power and priesthood authority. They say that both men and women in the church have priesthood power -– that access to the powers of heaven -– but that only men have priesthood authority -– the power to administrate in the Church and officiate in certain ordinances. They think of both women and men having priesthood, but just that women have not been given the offices of it, at least for the time being.

I’m assuming that since the author prefaced this with the caveat “some Mormons I know” that she isn’t claiming to hold this opinion. That’s good, because this opinion is held by silly sods. Priesthood = authority. That’s probably the least controversial way to sum it up. No authority equals no priesthood. “Prove it,” you say. All right, then, I will and to do so I’ll use a very Mormony object lesson.

Let’s compare the Priesthood to a car and ordination to having the keys to that car and getting your driver license. And this is no ordinary car. It’s a big shiny Aston Martin with a jet engine that can drive you straight to Paradise Beach. Both the Priesthood and a car require keys and special permission in order for you to operate it. You can’t get to Paradise Beach on foot because there’s loads of nasty chasms on the way there, and the only way across is to drive across bridges, each of which has a toll both manned by burly angels who will ask each occupant of the heaven-bound vehicle for a toll in the form of a secret handshake. Those on foot and those who don’t know the secret handshake get diverted along a scenic route to a slightly less fancy eternal vacation destination.

You’ve got to have a clearly identifiable man-penis in order to be allowed to have keys to a car and a license to drive it. Men who are naughty can sometimes have their license temporarily suspended, but it’s extremely rare and it’s even more rare for somebody to have their keys taken away for good. Women aren’t permitted to drive, along with kids, idiots, and trannies. However, these unfortunate souls are permitted to sit in the car, provided that there’s a man at the wheel and nobody attempts to question his interpretation of the road map. Eventually everybody gets to Paradise Beach where rock-hard abdominals and eternal sandcastle-making await us all, but if you’re a woman you got there as a passenger, not as a driver.

If the priesthood is a car, a woman is allowed to benefit from its usefulness but she isn’t allowed to drive it. If you claim being a passenger in somebody else’s car is the same thing as having the title, keys and a driver license than you’re either a misinformed twat or protecting yourself from the monsters of cognitive dissonance with a soothing blanket of self-delusion.

4 thoughts on “Women don’t have the priesthood, you silly sods

  1. I’m certain I’ve even heard Mormon leaders (including, it seems to me, GAs) talk about women “holding the priesthood” in this sense. Which doesn’t make it any less nonsense, of course—in fact, in my opinion it’s worse, since these are the men who hold all the available power in the Mormon church, and who could (if anyone can) extend that power to female members, but instead feed women bullshit about their “special god-given role” as wives and mothers in which they’ll fulfill their womanly destiny by holding the priesthood with their husbands except in the sense of having any actual authority at all.

    Blah.

  2. At the risk of throwing pearls, I’ll just step in and say that I have recently had an experience with exercising the power of the priesthood (sans the troublesome authority bit) with a group of wonderful women.

    I’m not sure how that fits in your metaphor, but perhaps it starts with rejecting the notion that you have to have a driver’s license and keys to begin with. We all have our own cars and God gives us the fuel. Granted, I can’t go about giving blessings in public or at church, but I can in private and the actual sacred experience is as important, if not more important than the authority part.

  3. @Jessawhy:

    Not being contrary, but perfectly serious — this viewpoint sounds much more like a Wiccan or a Lutheran, and doesn’t mesh the least bit with Mormon (particularly LDS Mormon) beliefs about the nature, function, and transference of Priesthood power. You could be punished by the church if they discovered that you were giving blessings in private and encouraging others to do the same. If the rejection of authority is this broad but also subversive, what is the value in remaining a member of the LDS church? Why not start or join a new church?

  4. Molly,
    It appears to me that despite being unplugged, you continue to buy into the black and white thinking that the LDS church teaches. When you step back and look more broadly, there is much in the scriptures and history of Mormonism to condone women laying on hands. This is in addition to the basic principle that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” If I, along with other women, give a blessing by the power of God, then it will be sacred and miraculous. It wasn’t until I had done a great deal of research that I felt comfortable participating in a blessing as an LDS woman. In fact, the more I think about it, the more confident I am that if I told my bishop about this blessing (which I feel no need to do), he would just fine with it. Perhaps this is because I am applying the broadest definition to priesthood as the power of God.

    At the risk of this becoming a debate about church rules, I’m going to politely bow out.

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