Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “If God loves His daughters as much as His sons, why can’t women hold the priesthood?”
Do you have a question you’d like to see answered? Send us an email at email@example.com or leave it in the comments below.
There are parts of this question we know the answers to, and there are parts we don’t know.
We don’t know why the Lord organized things so that men are holders of the priesthood and cannot create life while women create life and cannot hold the priesthood. But we do know that “men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. … In the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife” (President M. Russell Ballard).
We don’t know because “the Lord has not revealed why He has organized His Church as He has.”
But there is plenty we do know.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Women do not hold the priesthood, but if they are faithful and true, they will become priestesses and queens in the kingdom of God, and that implies that they will be given authority.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Bookcraft, 1956, 3:178.)
Several years later, he added, “It is within the privilege of the sisters of this Church to receive exaltation in the kingdom of God and receive authority and power as queens and priestesses.” (Emphasis added.) (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Relief Society—an Aid to the Priesthood,” Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, 5–6.)
We know that men and women alike may be equally and literally enrobed in the “garment of the Holy Priesthood” upon receiving their temple ordinances.
We know that priesthood holders really can only use their priesthood authority to bless others.
Elder Merrill J. Bateman taught, “It is expected that worthy holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood will use the power delegated to them to bless others, starting with their own families . . . to bless his wife and children when prompted and when a blessing is desired by them.”
A priesthood holder cannot baptize himself or supply for himself any of the saving ordinances in the temple. My priesthood-holding husband receives a blessing not at his own hands, but at the hands of a worthy priesthood holder—the same way I do.
He was baptized by a worthy priesthood holder—the same way I was.
He partakes the Sacrament by someone else who blessed it and another someone else who passed it—the same way I do.
He receives His ordinances in the temple by someone else who holds authority—the same way I do.
The priesthood he holds is for the purpose of blessing others—not for blessing himself.
The way this question is posed—as though God’s love for His daughters means He should authorize them to be priesthood holders—infers one of two things. Either God doesn’t love His daughters as He loves His sons, or ordaining men–and not women–to the priesthood is based on the sexism of men, not the design of God.
So, does God love His daughters as much as His sons?
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “You are second to none. You are daughters of God.”
So, are the apostles and prophets sexist?
In 1935, the First Presidency stated, “The true spirit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives to woman the highest place of honor in human life” (James R. Clark comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 6:5).
The highest place of honor in human life.
No word from prophet or apostle has ever contradicted this statement.
President Boyd K. Packer didn’t see the bestowal of a priesthood office as being a limitation on women, but rather as an expression of the greater role that women hold as primary nurturers and caretakers in the home.
“The limitation of priesthood responsibilities to men is a tribute to the incomparable place of women in the plan of salvation. The prophet who said that ‘no success [in any field of endeavor] can compensate for failure in the home’ (David O. McKay) did not exempt callings in the Church.”
No priesthood calling is more important than the work that goes on within the walls of our own homes.
I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by priesthood holders all of my life. I have never felt inferior because I didn’t hold the priesthood; I felt blessed that the priesthood was made available to me by the priesthood holders around me.
When I was 15 and woke up in the middle of the night with stabbing pain throughout my abdomen, I knocked on my parents’ door and my father gave me a priesthood blessing. The pain subsided and I slept through the night—despite having appendicitis. (It was removed the next day.)
When I got a high ankle sprain while caving in Puerto Rico, my husband gave me a blessing. As a result, what should have been a six-week injury became little more than a nuisance. I walked around the airport easily the next day, and the air cast came off within two days.
In each of these instances, who was blessed by a man having the priesthood? That man’s daughter. That man’s wife. Neither my father nor my husband benefitted from being a priesthood holder, but I benefitted by having one available to me.
If it had been my husband who had the injury, we would have been in search of a priesthood holder in a place where we knew no one. His having the priesthood blessed me, not him.
President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “As a father, do I love my daughters less than I love my sons? No. If I am guilty of any imbalance, it is in favor of my girls.”
From where I’m sitting, it seems like Heavenly Father feels the same way. He doesn’t bestow his priesthood to men because he loves his sons more than He loves his daughters. If anything, He bestows it to His sons so a priesthood blessing will be more readily available to His daughters!
We do not know why God organized His kingdom on the earth so that men can be priesthood holders and women cannot. But I do know He loves His daughters and I know I have been the beneficiary of this organization.
Disclaimer: While all of my answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, I do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t believe any of my answers are comprehensive. I’m just one person using the gospel I have been blessed with to bring hope, peace, and answers to other seekers of truth.