The church just released two essays that touch on the area of female equality issues.

The essay on Mother in Heaven was informative but not terribly groundbreaking.   Joseph Smith referenced the existence of a Mother in Heaven, and modern church leaders affirm that doctrine, but outside of that nothing has been revealed.  We don’t pray to her because we follow the example of praying to the Father that Jesus Christ gave us.


As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents. Latter-day Saints believe that this pattern is reflected in Paul’s statement that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”  Men and women cannot be exalted without each other. Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”


Solid.  Basically, yes we still believe in Mother in Heaven.  We don’t talk about her a lot.  It’s not because we disrespect women; it’s simply because we don’t know a lot about the subject.


The essay on priesthood and women.   Boom!  Holy Smokes.  I am taking this as a loud and clear message that we will see change in the future.

First they set a precedent that that our understanding of a male priesthood might not be doctrinal but it might be grounded in the cultural understanding of 1830’s Christian America.

Even so, many Latter-day Saints initially understood the concept of priesthood largely in terms common for the day. In 1830s America, the word priesthood was defined as “the office or character of a priest” and “the order of men set apart for sacred offices,” identifying priesthood with religious office and the men who held it.  Early Latter-day Saints likewise thought of priesthood primarily in terms of ordination to ecclesiastical office and authority to preach and perform religious rites.  As in most other Christian denominations during this era, Latter-day Saint men alone held priesthood offices, served formal proselytizing missions, and performed ordinances like baptism and blessing the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

The essay acknowledges the Joseph Smith encouraged women to give healing blessings by laying on of hands.

“Respecting the female laying on hands,” the Nauvoo Relief Society minutes record, Joseph said that “it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith,” and admonished, “if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.”  Some women had performed such blessings since the early days of the Church.


Then later, the essay opens the door to future change by referencing the current practice of women not giving blessings as an administrative practice.  The source for why women don’t currently give blessings in the church?  The Bible?  The Doctrine and Covenants?  Revelation from God to a prophet?  Nope.  It’s simply the current Handbook of Instructions.

Women’s participation in healing blessings gradually declined in the early 20th century as Church leaders taught that it was preferable to follow the New Testament directive to “call for the elders.”  By 1926, Church President Heber J. Grant affirmed that the First Presidency “do not encourage calling in the sisters to administer to the sick, as the scriptures tell us to call in the Elders, who hold the priesthood of God and have the power and authority to administer to the sick in the name of Jesus Christ.”  The current Handbook of Instructions directs that “only Melchizedek Priesthood holders may administer to the sick or afflicted.”


When you’re opening the door for future change, you do exactly what the church did.

  1. Plant a seed that male priesthood might have cultural and not doctrinal foundations, following the lead of other Christian churches in America.
  2. Set doctrinal precedent for the change.  Joseph encouraged females to give blessings.
  3. State the current position is due to practice not doctrine.


Fasten your seat belts.  I think this is just a start.
Edit: (update from author after some heated discussion on Facebook) A lot of people are getting the wrong idea from this post. I’m not modifying anything from the original post but adding some clarifying info.

  1. I’m not demanding change from the church. I support the brethren. I don’t support any groups that are against the church demanding female ordination. I’m not criticizing the brethren.
  2. I do find the language in the essay very interesting and think it provides clues for setting the foundation for future change. Other people don’t see it that way. Everyone reads it through their own perspective. I don’t see this as a reason to fight. I’m not interested in fighting to defend my position. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.
  3. I do hope for future change on female equality issues, but I do this in a similar way as black saints in the 1970’s who voiced their opinions respectfully and were content to wait and did not aggressively criticize or oppose the church.
  4. My emphasis on this site is to publicize and ask for acceptance within Mormonism of a non-literal view of scripture and church historical origins. Part of that perspective includes a view of the leadership of the church as humble servants of God that are constantly working to bring the church in line with what we as a collective body of Christ feel is God’s will. I see the brethren in an optimistic and positive light and acknowledge their difficult task in understanding and implementing God’s will. I sustain them.


  1. Any member who attends the temple regularly–and pays aattention–has a clear understanding of the role and sharing of priesthood through the eternities. The final stages of the endowment makes it clear the role men and women together play in eternal creation and increase.

  2. I agree. I think this is a step toward women’s full ordination, starting with giving blessings. I predict that the next CHI will remove the prohibition of women giving blessings and also more leadership positions will open up for women. Those developments will help build consensus for women’s full ordination.

  3. You’ve missed the point of the essay entirely. This essay is to affirm the fact that women already receive the same blessings and authority through the priesthood as men do, despite not being formally ordained to any priesthood office. It is not necessary to ordain women because nothing would change as a result of it.

  4. Although our understanding of the role women play within the Priesthood has been made more clear in recent years, I do not believe that there ever will be a time where women are actually ordained to the Priesthood. The brethren do not even have the authority to make such a change. In a recent conference address, Dallin H. Oaks states:

    ‘The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood.’

    ‘Ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used. We are accustomed to thinking that all keys of the priesthood were conferred on Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple, but the scripture states that all that was conferred there were “the keys of this dispensation” (D&C 110:16). At general conference many years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us that there are other priesthood keys that have not been given to man on the earth, including the keys of creation and resurrection.

    The divine nature of the limitations put upon the exercise of priesthood keys explains an essential contrast between decisions on matters of Church administration and decisions affecting the priesthood. The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures—matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. But even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.’

  5. What church do the sister missionaries in the photo of this blog belong to? Those are not LDD missionary tags. They are very badly designed.

  6. I understand where this is coming from. I see parallels with giving the priesthood to black men. The brethren changed the wording they used to described the ban, opening the possibility for a change in the future, decades before 1978. See the correspondence between Lowry Nelson and the first presidency on that subject.

  7. No offense intended here. We need to understand the roles of men and women. My perspective: *gender is important, *men are different than women, *men and women are equal, *men and women need each other to reach their potential, *Heavenly Father and Christ are male, *they delegate their power and authority to perform the male roles they have to their sons who are expected to serve all people–male and female, *we have a Heavenly Mother who has power and authority, although she has a different role than our Father, *women on earth have that power and authority, although their roles are different than men. We need to stop denigrating the role of women by hoping that they can be more like men. Why? I don’t want women to be more like men. They are awesome in their own roles. I admire women. I don’t want to become one. I am satisfied that I am a man and that I have my roles as a male and a Son of God. I will never experience giving birth and the myriad of other female roles. It would be a waste of time to sit around hoping that would happen.

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