Recently in the papers and news, Americans have heard in some form about "Ordain Women", a group of active, good standing LDS women that are picketing for access to the Priesthood sessions at General Conference and the quarterly Priesthood meeting that are held at the Conference Center just off of Temple Square. For two GC's now, they have tried to gain access to these sessions only to be turn away by Priesthood members that were giving tickets in the "standby line". According to the Salt Lake Tribune, each of these women would wait in line until it was their turn, and when they asked for a ticket for the Priesthood session, they were refused. They also host demonstrations in hope that the General Authorities will acknowledge their goals and one day consider the possibility of ordaining women in the Priesthood. This upcoming General Conference that is taking place next month, the church may ban them from Temple Square and regulate them to designated "free speech" areas off of the block which is reserved for other groups that are "anti-mormon".
Since this news was published, I have seen various opinions on Facebook and other places on the Web. Some praise their efforts while others find it offensive and inappropriate. I chose to remain neutral as to the cause itself. However, I do feel that opponents to "Ordain Women" are too quick to bring those sisters to book. Some of them say it goes against the natural order or it goes against the Lord's doctrines in the church but does it? Anyone who has taken a history class knows that women occasionally rose above men in social prominence, but those occasions proved to be very few and far between. Natural order for the win, yes?
But in regards to the Priesthood and women being ordained.....against God's laws and doctrines? No, not really if you take a look at it. I mean, outside of Mormonism, female members of the clergy have risen to one in ten Protestant churches (USA Today 9/17/09). The Old Testament lists Miriam, the sister of Aaron as a prophetess, and one of three leaders that led Israelite tribes out of Egypt (Exodus 15:20). There was also Deborah in Judges 4 and 5: prophetess, judge and general of an army....as Phoebes would say when he nearly got decapitated by Esmeralda "What a woman!" There was also Hulda who was a prophetess who brought about religious renewal in the Jewish faith (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22). Girl power, Old Testament Style.
Then you turn to the New Testament. Women played important roles that have been studied and debated for centuries. Jesus had female followers, some of them also served others. Paul surrounded himself with what he referred to as female colleagues. Phoebe was ordained as a deaconess in Romans 16:1 and I doubt she was 12 at the time. Priscilla was a celebrated comrade as mentioned in Romans 16:3. Paul also named Junia as an apostle who was hailed as "outstanding among apostles" (Romans 16:7).
And that's just in the Bible. As some of my readers may be quick to point out, it doesn't mean the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would follow along. But here's the fun fact: Emma Smith was ordained to the full priesthood in the early days of the church along with other women who all had authority to do works in the name of the Church. We're not talking like the women of today's Relief Society. These ladies could receive revelations, heal the sick and afflicted with their own authority, even without church elders. Joseph Smith told the Sisters that it was their duty and privilege to have full Priesthood authority (as recorded by Eliza R. Snow at the first Relief Society meeting). Even Brigham Young told women at a General Conference: "Why do you not live as to rebuke disease? It is your privilege to do so without sending for the Elders. You should go to work to study and see what you can do for the recovery of your children. If a child is taken sick with fever give it something to stay that fever or relieve the stomach and bowels. So that mortification may not set in.......study and learn something for yourselves. It is the privilege of a mother to have faith and to administer to her child, this she can do herself." (Journal of Discourses 13:18)
Forgive me if I seem facetious, but by saying it goes against God's laws and doctrines seems to be somewhat...shall we say....incorrect? With this kind of logic, it is no wonder that the members of "Ordain Women" would like to join the Priesthood. They're not shirking their roles as mothers or as church members. They made it clear in their mission that they are faithful members and do not seek to go against the church. They merely wish to regain what has been lost to women, the ability to serve God with all the tools that they need.
Ordain Women's website: http://ordainwomen.org/