There are many questions about issues specific to women in the emails I receive. They go way beyond the one email I posted on Sunday. Many express disappointment about “denying” priestly office to women in the church. My reaction to that issue is to say: Why aspire to be like those claiming patriarchal priority based upon an exclusive “priesthood” when, for almost all men, their ordination will never result in heaven conferring power upon them? (D&C 121: 36-37.) Why envy nothing?
There is a misapprehension about “priesthood” and authority. This can be tracked back to the failure to adequately teach in the church, and by the example we see in the management of the church. In the church the man is called to office (bishop, stake president, elder’s quorum president, etc.). The man is supposed to fill that office using two counselors to help him. His wife is not one of his counselors. The positions often require confidences to be kept. Because of this, a bishop does not discuss everything about his calling with his wife. This gives the mistaken impression that the men fulfilling these roles matter more, and are trusted more by the Lord.
This model is a mirage, and to the extent the church is selected as the object of admiration and reverence, it will only fool you. Remember the church will end with death. The government of God in eternity is His Heavenly Family. These family relationships endure. The church will remain a creation of, and occupant confined to the Telestial world. It is a Telestial institution, attempting to invite you to rise up to something more, something higher, something that will endure. But the church extending that invitation is not to be envied. Service in it is not the model of Celestial glory. Your family is the critical relationship in mortality.
A man and woman would be better off if they never held any church office other than home and visiting teaching. They would be better off if they realized it is the family alone that will endure, and then devote themselves to improving that relationship. Inside the family, the woman is the natural and undeniable counselor, and she is presiding within the family alongside her husband. She should join with him in blessing their children, she should lay hands on her husband when he asks and bless him, and she should be one with him. Because inside the home it is the husband and wife, not the bishop, who presides. Even the president of the church does not call a man to office without first asking his wife to sustain him in the calling. Nor does the woman get a calling without consulting her husband. All the envy and misapprehensions notwithstanding, the fact remains that the church is inferior to the family. The church is temporary, transient and Telestial. The family can be eternal, enduring and Celestial.
To the extent that you choose the church to inform your understanding, you are setting it up as an idol. That approach does more harm than good. No institution can display what it was never intended to be. It is the unity found in marriage, not the structure of organizing the church, which should become our focus.
This week’s topic has been the subject of repeated discussions between me and my wife. Each morning we spend about an hour talking about many different issues as we walk together, the role of woman being one of them. Each evening we also spend time discussing important issues, from the Gospel to family matters to finances and everything in-between. She not only edits my writing, but discusses what I write with me. She is a constant adviser and counselor to me. Her view of this subject is much more critical of women’s misunderstanding than mine. She finds many complaints and complainers exasperating. Through prayer and study, she has had to come to terms with many of these same issues. On the ones she doesn’t struggle with or can’t get answers to, she trusts that God loves her and that “everything will be okay.” We find it joyful and necessary to reason together and discuss gospel issues with one another.
If we are all the Lord’s, there should be unity between us all; even more so between husband and wife. That does not come through neglect. It comes through effort. Sometimes the effort must begin by the woman bringing to the attention of the husband what he is failing to do or to be. Then it grows from there to discussion, and finally understanding and agreement. That is the work of every relationship. It cannot be avoided. Effort and time are required for any union to be obtained.