Monday, June 23, 2014

Creation, Salvation, Exaltation

There's been a big stir recently about the Ordain Women group. Those in the group say that it is a matter of human rights and equality, while leaders in the LDS church say that it is about doctrine. Unfortunately for everyone, the church is highly unlikely to change due to outside pressure, as evidenced by the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly. But on the other hand, leadership saying that it's just how it is and to stop complaining about it isn't really going to win any fans either. Even if it's God who said that it's the way it's going to be.

A few years ago, I was on the same page as these many members who didn't understand why women didn't have the priesthood, and I was on the verge of leaving the church that I was raised in and love because of it. Many conversations and prayers accompanied these feelings. I felt as though if I wasn't good enough to hold the priesthood, then I was nothing. The thing is, though, it's not about whether I'm good enough. I am. Worthiness for something doesn't automatically grant that thing to you. And it doesn't mean that you necessarily should have it, either.

One night as Brian and I were talking about it, he asked me to just keep going to church and doing the things that were expected of me for the sake of our family. And I agreed. On one condition: that if I kept doing what I was supposed to do, that God would teach me why women don't hold the priesthood, and what my worth was if the idea of equal but different really was true. And so a bargain was struck. I didn't think asking God to answer my questions on the subject was out of line if He still wanted me to keep doing the whole mormon thing.

And over the next two years, God taught me what I wanted to know.

Know that these are the answers that were given to me for my situation, and while I firmly believe that they are absolute truth, until someone over the pulpit at General Conference (or in a First Presidency letter) says them as bluntly as this, please don't take it as absolute doctrine. Pray about it. If it's a truth for you to know, God will tell you. I just want to share this in a spirit of love and an explanation of my feelings on the matter, because it's been on my mind a lot.

If you are a member of the LDS church, or if you've ever taken the missionary lessons, you're probably familiar with a little thing called the Plan of Salvation. I'm absolutely in love with the Plan. It's one of my most favorite things about our doctrine. It outlines more or less where we came from, why we are here, and what will happen after we die. Now, every single one of us is firmly in the why am I here stage of things. It's a little thing called mortality. And if you're only thinking of this life as you know it, you might look around at the church and say that it just isn't fair. And it may not be. And for some folks, the explanation that it's just how it is is enough.

For others it isn't though. I'd like to talk to them. And even if you don't agree by the time I'm done, at least we might understand each other a little better.

Basically what it boils down to is this: the job of priesthood is to prepare God's children to receive Salvation. That's what all the ordinances that our men administer to are for. And the church is organized to make sure that the men whose job that is are in charge of making sure that it gets done properly. Are there places where a calling could be given to either gender that is currently only held by men? There may be those callings, but it sure as anything isn't callings like being a bishop.

Now here is where we are going to get into a little bit of the speculation. I don't want to have to list everything that I've read and studied to get to this point, though if there's enough demand I could do so later.

Women are told over and over in the church that the most important job that they can have is to be a mother. And some women feel that isn't good enough. I would have to politely disagree with them. Sure, it's wearying, tiresome, and mostly thankless work, but what is forgotten is that there is an entire act before mortality. The premortal life. We've been told that we prepared there and had to qualify to receive the great gift of a body. Mortality is something that we had to make covenants to achieve. And along with covenants here in mortality there are ordinances required. Why should it have been any different before? And all ordinances have one thing in common: Blood, water, and the Spirit. Baptism and confirmation? Has them represented. Sacrament? Listen to the prayers, all three are also there. The Atonement, which is one of the greatest ordinances that ever happened has all three in spades. And you know what else has those three important things? Birth.

I see birth as being the crowning ordinance of women's work. Priestess-hood, if you will. It is absolutely requisite for our progression, there is sacrifice involved in exchange for the promise of later blessings, and most importantly, a Veil must be passed through to attain it. Some of my personal spiritual experiences have led me to believe that women guide and administrate the work required to organize spirits coming down here. The same way that men do so here to organize those things required to pass through a second veil to attain Salvation. And anyone familiar with the doctrine of Temple Marriage will recognize that Exaltation can only be achieved by a man and a woman bound together through the power of God. Both of whom are equal in His sight.

I know that God lives. That we have both a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who deeply love their children. That through a relationship with them, we can learn about who we can become. I know that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, and that He loves us and will help us as we strive to become better than we are. That is my testimony.

I don't feel as though I must be less anymore for not being allowed the priesthood. I've come to realize that my brother having a gift that I don't does not in any way make my gifts less important. Nor does it make me less important in the sight of God. Mine is the power of Creation. His is the power of Salvation. And ours together is the work of Exaltation.


  1. Your points are well thought out, but for me, you missed one. The responsibility of the men in our church is to organize and bring souls to Christ, but for women, it is charity (not just motherhood, though that is included).

    Pure religion is service and I have seen so many times women stepping out of their comfort zone just to do something for others. The holiest women in my life are the ones who serve selflessly with no thought of themselves. For many women, it seems like instinct or just their nature to serve and love. It is a part of who we are no matter what talents or abilities we have. We as women need to realize that just because our talents are not as 'loud' as mens' that does not mean they are not precious.

    1. I love the points you made! I definitely think that charity is huge. I'd submit that when we act with charity towards another it is as much a way to mother (since to me motherhood is about love, service, and helping others to reach their potentials) as bearing and/or raising children. I also like that when it boils down to it, both men and women are to act as conduits for the love of God. We are just given different ways that we are responsible for showing it.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. This troubled me a while ago, but I feel like I made peace with it.

    One thing that our church focuses on that I think causes emotionally and mental health issues at times, is serving selflessly, and always thinking of others.

    There is a beauty of serving other without expecting anything in return which the definition of service in my mind, but I feel that too often we forget to take care of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally is essential for our well-being, and focusing only on others is extremely unhealthy. I use to think that I was a bad person if I did not help others, when at the time I could not even help myself because of being emotionally and mentally incapacity. In that state of instability, there is often ways we can still help others in small ways, while still making ourselves a priority due to necessity to become well again.

    I have for the past couple of years not held a church calling, and it has been because of my poor mental and emotional well being. Do I plan to hold a calling again someday? Yes, but for now it is just not in the cards, and that is okay.

    A therapist who honestly changed my world and saved me in many ways taught me that we need to be right in the middle of selfishness, and selflessness. That steering more one way or another is not healthy for oneself and those around you. I had never even thought there was a healthy middle, a healthy balance of the two before that. It blew my mind, and it was the start of getting healthy mentally and emotionally, for truly the first time in my life.

    I just wanted to share my experience and thoughts on the matter, and I feel like the church does not focus on our mental, emotional, and physical well being nearly as much as it should, and especially when compared to how much it focuses of spiritual well being. You cannot be your spiritual best if you are not healthy or neglecting the other areas.

    Too often I see the women of the church giving everything of themselves, and not taking care of themselves like they should. Which having been that way before is a true tragedy to see. I of course as not being a mother at this time, cannot say I can understand the demands and sacrifice of being a mother. But having seen my mother always being selfless and really never thinking of herself, I wish she had. I wish she had made herself more of a priority, and not for my sake because my needs and then some where met, but for herself.

    Generally speaking all my best friends since college have been mothers, and all too often I see them never talking time, not even an hour, for themselves and their well-being. When they do take time for themselves, I can see a huge difference in their overall well-being, and happiness. It doesn't have to be much, but when it happens it does such wonders for them, their children, and their relationship with their spouse.

    Any who, great thoughts.

    I really like how you talk about our great importance of bringing people into the world as a key component of the Plan Of Salvation, and not just an obligation of being a women and a wife. I love that insight and am very grateful that you wrote about this. What a wonderful privileged it is to bring those spirits into the world, and begin the Plan Of Salvation, (excluding Christ's part which of course is why it is even possible at all) and without our sacrifice, there would be no Plan Of salvation, nor a happy eternal life.