The Role of Women
This blog is part of my ZionBound series. The full series can be read in post order here.
A third common objection to female priesthood members in the church is the role of women. In other words, some people feel that women should not be ordained because serving in the priesthood would run contrary to, or somehow conflict with, their roles that they inherently have, simply by virtue of being female.
This objection is, quite simply, insane.
While it is true that first world societies once greatly limited what women could do, those day are mostly long gone. Women can vote. They can drive. They can be doctors, lawyers, etc. How can we possibly let women do all these things, despite their inherent female roles, but then use the latter as a reason to say that they can’t be members of the priesthood?
Think of it this way. If we can support a woman being a family doctor, would we object to a woman being a dentist? If we support a woman being a police officer, would we object to a female pro golfer?
We cannot say that it is ok for a woman to have a career, and then pull the rug out from under her and say “you can’t be in the priesthood – that would take away from your duties and/or responsibilities as a woman.”
We also need to ask, just what are these duties and/or responsibilities that women have that priesthood would impair? The answer is always the same: raising children.
Women, according to some, should not be in the priesthood because being in the priesthood would interfere with them raising their children properly. But they can have jobs and careers.
Of course, my position might be countered by saying that a career is ok, because that is one role, in addition to motherhood, which is therefore manageable. But, add priesthood on top of a career, and the woman has even less time to provide to her children.
But what about fathers? Aren’t fathers expected to be good fathers? Are they not also expected to do their part in raising children? They are out there working every day, and they are serving in the priesthood, attending meetings at night, visiting the sick, traveling to stake conferences, etc. If its ok for fathers to do so, why not mothers?
What about mothers who don’t have a career? Would they not then have ample time to be mothers and priesthood at the same time? What of women who can’t have children? What of mothers who have already performed their sacred duties with distinction, and now have an empty nest? What about couples who decide not to have children?
How can we possibly have a blanket statement that says women cannot be ordained because they are supposed to be mothers, when we consider all of the above factors?
Another consideration is Paul’s perspective on marriage. Paul seems to suggest that unmarried people both male and female, will be able to devote themselves more fully to the Lord, than those who marry. His stance implies that for those who are able to resist temptation, it is more desirable to remain unattached, and devote oneself more fully to the Lord.
Obviously, Paul would not regard childbirth outside of marriage as an appropriate objective, therefore, since he seems to advocate remaining single and devoted more fully to God as preferable to getting married, it would seem that the former is a higher calling and more sacred function than motherhood.
I can hear the rebuttal: “But, if a woman does fall in love, and decides to get married and have children, then her motherhood should not be distracted by ministry”. But you cannot forbid all women from joining the priesthood for the sake of those women who opt to have children, especially considering that remaining childless & unmarried, devoted to God, seems to be a higher calling.
The real factor in this area is of course that the objection is simply an opinion: “You can’t be ordained as that would take away from your role as a mother”.
There is no scripture that states that a woman cannot be ordained because such would diminish her role as a mother. Again, as noted above, there are so many cases where this would not apply and be ridiculously unfair (infertile women, empty nesters, etc.) – but, even more important, the objection is just an opinion, which is not a very sound basis for establishing a doctrinal position, especially when such an opinion casts God as unjust.
The opinion is of course flawed. When we take the time to consider, and ponder (as Nephi counsels us), the scriptures, and note the aforementioned female missionaries, who are we to object? If women in the Bible could travel from place to place, be missionaries, be church leaders, etc. etc., how can we possibly object to female priesthood on the basis that ordaining them would somehow clash with their femalehood?