The thing I didn't say - an addendum to Ordain Women

When I was writing the Ordain Women post, I took out a paragraph about a certain line of reasoning I hear from time to time used to justify why women don't have the priesthood. I took it out because I didn't want to offend anyone who feels it is an adequate answer, but after hearing the line of reasoning reiterated in a talk by Dallin H. Oaks in the priesthood session - the first time I've ever heard it come from the pulpit, mind you, I wanted to share the thoughts that I originally omitted. Here's the line, usually a simple answer mothers give to their children:

"Men have the priesthood, and women have babies." There are other offshoots, like, "Men have the priesthood, and women are co-creators with God."

Dallin H. Oaks stated, "The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood […]" He then followed with a quote from J. Reuben Clark,

"Only to his daughters has God given the power to be a creator of bodies so that God's design and the great plan might meet fruition."

I disagree with this line of reasoning. And I have a physical reaction when I hear it. I first heard the "women are co-creators with God" line when I was pregnant and in the trenches of hyperemesis gravidarum with Magnolia. My very initial thought was, "What a lovely sentiment," followed quickly by, "WAIT A MINUTE!"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought Jake and I made babies together. Unless immaculate conception is happening, men and women share equal parts in the body creation process. I think it's a low blow to men to say otherwise [just like I think it's unfair to say that men have the priesthood to make up for their lack of sensitivity, intuition, and nurturing abilities]. Sure, I had the special privilege of birthing…and expanding, and barfing, and weeks of hospitalization, and getting cut open with one and ripped a part with another, not to mention the crazy emotional roller coaster that comes post birth. I love that responsibility. Truly. Do I sometimes wish I didn't have several inches of extra skin on my abdomen? Sure. But just because my babies grew inside of me, doesn't mean they aren't just as much Jake's. Or that they're mine any more than his in God's eyes.

What does that mean for all the women who can't have children? Or for the women who never marry and live the law of chastity? I can think of several other reasons why women aren't ordained to the priesthood that make way more sense to me than my ability to carry a child. Actually hearing a general authority say it, instantly made me think of all of the other completely erroneous reasons given in the past by leaders of the church as to why the priesthood was withheld from other worthy people throughout the church's history. Wait a minute…extended and then retracted and then withheld….oh, and then re-extended. Fence-sitters in heaven, anyone? A cursed people. And now a woman's uterus as the organ that can sustain the life she and a man create until it is ready to be born.

The analogous role to a mother is not a priesthood holder, it's a father.


  1. I always enjoy your posts, BrieAnn, because they are heart felt and well thought out. They always make me think. They always make me wonder why I believe the way I believe. Sometimes we agree.

    I agree with you on this one, sort of. I think the church sometimes feels we need an answer and they are quick to give it. You are right that a baby cannot be created without the man. That we (man AND woman) are co-creators with God. My children are Dustin's too. But I believe there is more to birthing a child than you have stated here. Yes being pregnant is awful!! I absolutely hated it! I have said time after time that I would rather give birth than ever be pregnant.I was never cut open, but I did tear with a few of mine. AWFUL! But I'd do it all again to have my children! Giving birth revealed a part of me that I never knew existed. A part that a man will never understand or comprehend. Does that make me better than him? No. It just means it was part of my journey in this life, he was created for something else.

    I have been guilty in giving one of my daughters the quick answer of "you get to have babies." It's so much more than that though! But how do you tell her that her body will do things she never knew possible, that she will feel as if she is about to die and then just when she thinks she is, all that pain is gone and over, then forgotten. Forgotten that you do it again! That because of all those awful things (sickness, uncomfortable, maybe even a loss), she will be able to turn around and know how to comfort those who are going through the exact same thing! They don't understand. You can't unless you experience it! And you're right, she may never have the opportunity to experience it. Does that make her less valued? Absolutely not! Because a woman IS more than her uterus! The leaders of the church know this, just bad wording! It then becomes her job to seek out her own journey. She needs to figure out her role in building the kingdom of God on the earth.

    I think what they are saying when they give this answer is that both genders were destined with power. A woman's power lies in her ability to bear children- whether she can or can't, think eternally. Heavenly Father did need a way to get His children to the earth. The priesthood power ( I will say I think the power that mortal men hold is only a miniscule compared to Heavenly Father's, so maybe the same is true for us when it comes to Heavenly Mother) prepares the way to return to Heavenly Father (baptism, temple ordinances). Each role is so important to carrying out His plan!

    Why did He choose to give men the priesthood? I don't know. It's something I'll ask Him when I return home. It's a topic we know little about! Maybe it was meant to be that way for forever, or maybe not.

    I could go on and on. But I won't. I hope all of this makes sense! I guess I don't understand the push to know when eternal life isn't riding on the fact if we have it or not? This whole thing baffles me a little. It feels like it's more about being validated to the world, or whoever, instead of living to glorify God and build His Kingdom. I don't know. Tell me if I'm wrong.

  2. I don't think you're wrong. And after I wrote this post, I thought about either taking out the description that is solely physical to being pregnant or just adding more of the emotional feelings that came along with being a mother. I absolutely think that women who can't or won't have children in this life add just as much to the world than those who can and do. That's why I think the "answer" given about why women don't have the priesthood stings so much because, even when thinking about it eternally, I don't want it to add to their heartache. I think that's why mothers shouldn't be equated to priesthood holders. Motherhood is an incredibly powerful part of my journey, just as fatherhood should be to men. I say this knowing that in my family, Jake and I each equally contribute something unique and worthwhile to parenthood. I especially agree with your assessment of short answers being given. These answers make me work especially hard hard at reminding myself they're human when I really want their answers to reflect that they are more than that. (Not to say humans don't come without marvelous inspiration sometimes.)



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