Monday, December 1, 2008

Man and Woman

Okay, last question from the other week to answer. It was about why only men hold the priesthood.  Here I will quote the question:

"I still don't understand why only men can receive the priesthood & higher levels of... whatever-ness? I don't know the right word for it. Certainly not spirituality... maybe "ranks"? With elder and all that... deacon, teacher, priest, elder... 

Well, anyways, whatever the right word is, I still don't understand why only men can get it. How do women get to feel people's spirits in a way that men don't? I am not trying to be rude, I just really don't understand... I grew up with both men and women pastors so it is unusual to me to see different roles for men & women in a church."

I am not sure my answer will "satisfy" this asker. Like I said previously, it is only the Lord's answer that ever really satisfies us and helps us know things fully. But I will explain a few things more fully.

First, the "whatever-ness" referred to are offices in the priesthood. They are like levels. Worthy young men get the Aaronic Priesthood and are ordained to the office of a deacon at 12. They can do certain things with this level or priesthood like pass the sacrament at church. At 14 they can receive the office of teacher. They can still do all the things a deacon can do and also do the things a teacher can do. At 16, they can be ordained a priest and can serve in more ways like blessing the sacrament at church. Adult men can in time and through worthiness be ordained with greater and higher offices of the priesthood. 

Without going into a full lesson on the offices of the priesthood, I will move on to give my thoughts on the real question here. Why do only men get it? I am going to ask you to ponder a question and see if it can help give you an answer. Why can only women play such a uniquely intimate and integral role in the bringing forth of life? Only women can grow life within them and feel the emotions and physical sensations that accompany that role. Only women are given of God the ability to sustain the life of the newborn through nursing. 

The world greatly underestimates the power and importance of the office and calling women have been divinely given as mothers. This is a power afforded to women alone. No man can ever fully be a mother. Many are loving and kind but there is a unique feeling of love that a mother has with her child. It is through motherhood that women are able to feel of another spirit in a way a man cannot.

I do not say this to demean the role of fatherhood. It is also vital to a child and holds it own unique feelings. Still fathers miss out on the bond inherit in being part of the creating process for such an extended period of time and in such a life altering way.

The Lord says in the scriptures through Paul that "neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." The Lord wants man and woman to be united together and these two together make each other whole. He has made us dependent upon each other by giving each of us different keys that are both necessary and equally powerful. 

If a woman could also hold the priesthood, how unequal would that be? God has given men the priesthood to help equalize their opportunities for service with that of women particularly in their roles as mother.

I think if we had even the slightest glimpse of how our Father in Heaven really feels about motherhood we would feel that men are by far getting the shorter end of the stick in this division of blessings. 

I can see how this can seem unequal or foreign growing up in a church where church pastors were both male and female. But this is another example of that parable I referred to where we are raised in a culture that is different from others and definitely all of our cultures are different from God's. 

That is why only God can help us satisfy our need for understanding because only He can help us know His culture and His understanding of things. But I hope my answer at least gave some food for thought on the issue.