Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Gender and the Priesthood

On Times and Seasons today, they had an interesting post that hypothesizes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts out a declaration that mandates leaders come from minorities because too many Caucasians have leadership roles.  In the end, it was to talk about women getting leadership roles in the church.  Right now in the LDS Church, just as in most churches, the Priesthood leadership is made up of men.  Is there a possibility in the future that this could change?  Sure.  If it does, I will certainly support it.  At this time though, I don’t believe that it would happen, nor do I think it’s wise.  Why is that?  Read on for my top 2 reasons:
  1. The Proclamation on the Family.  The church has pushed the importance of traditional family roles, with the father being a provider and the mother at the center of the family.  What if women were suddenly available to be Bishops, Stake Presidents, or General Authorities?  The church is now taking them out of their traditional roles and putting the father there.  While I think I do a great job with my kids, I can’t imagine putting me in that role instead of my wife.  She is absolutely incredible with the kids and I’m so grateful that she’s able to stay home with them.  To take her away from that for extended periods of time would be absolutely incompatible with established church doctrine, not to mention harmful to the most important group in the church: the family.
  2. The blending of the genders.  This is something that I’m really not a fan of.  I know it runs counter to the past 40 years, but there are some fundamental differences between men and women.  For starters, there are the obvious physical differences, but there are also other differences too.  Men and women mature differently.  They have different types of brains.  I’m not just making this up, there’s a whole host of scientific data to back it up.  I hate to break it to people, but there is a big difference between your typical man and your typical woman.  I certainly think there are areas where it can blend, and gender equality is important, but so are having specific roles.  Women tend to be better multitaskers, they tend to be more maternal, and they tend to be more empathetic.  Men tend to be better at cutting through a single task, they tend to be more aggressive, and they tend to be more aloof from a situation.  What is it that children need?  I would argue that while they need both, if they had to have one or the other, I’d choose the female traits.  It’s not to say that either is better than the other overall, but I would absolutely argue that in the most important area of life - raising the next generation - women are better than men.  As such, I think that commoditizing women and their role by tossing them together with men eliminates the things that make them special in the first place.


Michael 聖 Brady said...

I left the following comment on the T&S article referenced above:

"In the press conference between General Conference sessions when Elder D. Todd Christofferson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he was asked a question about cultural/racial representation within that quorum. His answer was simply that Apostles are not called to represent the peoples of earth to God; rather, they are called to bring the word of God to the people.

"As such, qualification for the Apostleship is based upon Christlike characteristics and attributes, and race becomes irrelevant.

"In any case, the face of the Church is overwhelmingly Caucasian, from the highest councils to the far flung branches of the hinterland. While that is changing, I do not want to sustain a leader because the person is/isn't a certain race or even gender. Rather, because God called the most prepared person to lead me."

Michael 聖 Brady said...

In response to Sorro's thoughts on the above, I add:

The point on leaving children to adequate (but not superior) nurturers is a good one. The unspoken side of that same argument is that such a scenario also robs men from the blessing that they need, which is involvement in the priesthood.

If God's work and glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," (See Moses 1:39), then everything provided for us is for our benefit. To women he gave motherhood, as Sorro has mentioned. This allows them to develop not only their children, but also themselves! No, we're not to go about asking "what's in it for me," but really, in all church programs, there is definitely something in it for each of us, namely eternal life.

But what is there to develop the men? We surely need help in becoming the husband and father who will qualify for eternal life. The priesthood is that help. If we use it for what it is meant to do, we can be trained on how to become patriarchs like Abraham, and that is no hyperbole.

I must again underscore the fact that to act in priesthood or marriage or fatherhood with the objective of being exalted is backward. We are given these offices and callings to bless others; ancillary blessings, which the Lord is bound to provide, will be elevation of the man giving the service.

Quoting Joseph Smith: "[Self-aggrandizement] is a correct principle, and may be indulged [in] upon only one rule or plan--and that is to elevate, benefit and bless others first. If you will elevate others, the very work itself will exalt you. Upon no other plan can a man justly and permanently aggrandize himself."

The servant of all, Jesus Christ, is exalted because he used his priesthood to serve us all in administering the priesthood ordinance that only he could do. But he did not atone for our sins with the goal of exalting himself; he did it that we might be exalted. Such is the nature of the priesthood. (See Mark 10:44, supplement with Paul in 1 Cor 9:19)

Mothers are exalted as they raise their children in righteousness. Fathers are exalted as they participate in the priesthood.