Category: equality

Improper Assertion of Authority

Joseph Smith spoke at a conference in Philadelphia on January 13th, 1840. Included in his remarks was this recorded prohibition (he called it an “injunction”), the “traveling elders” were to be prevented from encroaching on local authorities.

The “traveling elders” were the twelve and seventy. They were missionaries. They had no right to interfere or encroach on the stakes or wards. The stakes were equal in authority with the twelve and first presidency. The minutes of the conference include these words from Joseph Smith:

“directed it should be entered on the minutes as the injunction of the Presidency that traveling Elders should be especially cautious of incroaching on the ground of stationed & presiding Elders and rather direct their efforts to breaking up and occupying new ground” JS Papers, Documents, Vol. 7: September 1839-January 1841, p. 115, spelling as in original.

Meaning that the twelve and seventy should occupy themselves with missionary work (breaking up and occupying new ground) and leave governing stakes to the “stationed and presiding” authorities who held the actual authority to govern.

An organization with divided and co-equal authorities cannot survive the ambition of conspiring men. And church members willingly surrender the right to govern to claimants, even when the claims are improper. The solution is to never establish anything other than equality. Even that presents challenges because impatience, haste, ambition and fear motivates even the best of people.

Role of Women, Part 4

You ask about women and the Second Comforter. It is apparent from the question you have not read Come, Let Us Adore Him. I ask people to read what I’ve written to understand this blog. If you had taken that advice you would already know the first person to receive the risen Lord’s personal ministry was a woman. And you would likewise know there were many others who received His companionship and ministry before any of His Apostles. When He did visit with the Apostles, He rebuked them for not receiving the testimony of the women in particular. This makes clear that the Lord values His family and closest associates and companions more than an hierarchy. You should read that book if you’d like to understand Him better.

The “ambition” to have position or authority or power or “equality” is based on our mistaken understanding of patriarchy and confuses mankind’s bad example with God’s intention. You have also associated the idea of priesthood with the institutional positions of the church. Therefore, since women are barred from filling those institutional positions, you’ve reached a wrong conclusion.

Go back to what is most basic. It is the basic truths which matter most. All great truths are simple.

What is “priestly?” Whether it is done by a “priest” or by a “priestess” what exactly is “priestly?”

At the core, to perform a priestly act is to do something for the Lord; to act as His surrogate, or to act as His agent. The greatest of these priestly acts are rendered through service to others, and can be done by anyone, almost at any time, and in almost any circumstance.

When administering relief to others, you can act on the Lord’s behalf. When you clothe the naked and needy, or visit the sick and confined, or feed the hungry, you are doing His work. (Matt. 25: 34-46.)

The “chief seats” don’t matter. When men obtain the honors of others, sit in the chief seats, and receive public acclaim, they are not the ones to envy. Those who support themselves through the widow’s tithes are damned. (Luke 20: 45-47.)

The Lord has respect to the obscure, and He took greater notice of the faithful who donated her two mites than the rich who made a show. (Luke 21: 1-4.) This is who He is. This is who you are to serve. He has no respect for those who consume these donations from the poor. When you serve others, you are a priestess whom the Lord will recognize and are the one He intends to exalt. (Matt. 23: 11-12.) It is not the ruler who will be honored, but the servant. (Matt. 23: 8-12.)

There is nothing to envy from anyone who receives public acclaim, praise, adoration and celebration. (Matt. 23: 5-8.) When crowds gather to proclaim your greatness, this is neither priestly nor godly, and you have your reward. (Matt. 6: 1-4.) But when you serve in quiet and are faithful in secret, then you are priestly and the Lord will honor you. (Matt. 6: 5-6.)

There is nothing preventing you from acting the part of the priestess in blessing others and serving on the Lord’s behalf. (D&C 58: 26-29.) If you wait to act the part of a priestess until someone calls you to a priestly position, and then only want to hold office to be seen and recognized as a priestess, then you have failed to know your Lord.

You have confused priestly service for God and to your fellow man with rank, position and institutional authority. That is nothing. Worse than nothing. These institutional positions confuse both holders and observers into thinking this is what matters. Misused church position can become little different than membership in a civic club, as some leaders I have known. You probably have seen such people in your own experience. If your “service” is entirely confined there, and you do nothing to benefit the poor, the weak, the needy, the naked and you let the beggar pass by you unnoticed, then priestly service is for you only vanity and pride. It is not something to connect you with God. (Mosiah 4: 12-27.) You can do that without any institution conferring upon you, like “the Great and Powerful Oz” what is in reality nothing more than a watch, a certificate and a medal.

I would advise against looking to those who are almost always damned to decide what example to follow. (D&C 121: 39-40.) The ones acclaimed the most, celebrated the most, and who hold the greatest public eye generally have no authority from God anyway. (D&C 121: 34-37.) Do not either envy them or take them for your model. People who make this mistake aspire to be a child of hell. (Matt. 23: 10-15.)

Even if we receive all the praise men can bestow upon us, we are STILL not priestly. For that, you need to serve our Lord. The honors of men are nothing. They never have been anything. (D&C 121: 34-36.)

You want to be priestly? Then cry repentance. It will offend others, and will cause them to despise you, but will bring you to know your Lord. He is meek and lowly. He speaks to man in plain humility, as one man speaks to another.

His first witness of His resurrection, and therefore the first apostolic voice having authority to declare her witness that He who was dead is alive, was a woman. She was not among the church hierarchy, but the Lord rebuked the them for ignoring her authoritative and true witness. They were “fools and slow of heart” for this error.

Our Lord is no respecter of persons. You ought not be either. To the extent you allow false and exaggerated claims to inform your understanding of a meek and lowly Lord, you will always reach errant conclusions. That is part of the deception we are required to overcome here.