I have been thinking a lot about the issue of Mormon women and the priesthood, and how some of my sisters and brothers in the Church feel that the only way that women’s worth can be fully proven (or their talents fully utilized) is to have women ordained to the priesthood. I’ve even heard it said that women are only getting crumbs at the table in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because they don’t have the priesthood. This honestly breaks my heart to hear women say. I can understand the desire for institutional similarity in roles and responsibilities, but I simply disagree with this kind of assertion about what women can and do experience in the Church.
Ultimately the Church is not about who does what, it’s about providing the means whereby we can access the power and blessings that come from the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
As I thought about this notion of crumbs at the table last night, I was reminded of a phrase that I love from S. Michael Wilcox: “What we must understand about our Father in Heaven is that He only gives bread; He never gives stones. He only gives fish; He never gives serpents. He only gives eggs; He never gives scorpions.”
And He never gives just crumbs. God gives the Bread of Life to all who seek it. The Master’s table is spread, and we are all invited to partake.
In the context of talking about the misperceptions about the role of women in the Church that are often perpetuated on the internet, Elder Ballard recently plead with us to “be cautious and wise to ever keep uppermost in our minds the simple doctrine and gospel of Christ.”
The doctrine of Christ is powerful and beautiful. And it really is simple. All who desire to partake of His grace may come to Him through “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of sin, baptism by immersion for the remission of sin, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” [also from Elder Ballard]. There is no inequality in God’s eternal plan. There is only Bread. The reality that “all are alike unto God” is demonstrated by the fact that He has provided a way for all who are living and all who have ever lived to “come to [Christ] and partake of His goodness.” That goodness includes the peace of His power in our lives now, the grace to be forgiven of sin and covered in our weakness, and the promise of life after death.
And, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “In the world to come, to these, the most faithful, our generous Father will give “all that [He] hath” (D&C 84:38). Brothers and sisters, there isn’t any more!” (From the talk “Apply the Atoning Blood of Jesus Christ.”)
What does the doctrine of Christ mean to you? How have you felt the power of the Savior’s atonement in your life? How have you seen His power and grace in the lives of those you love?
Thank you so much for this! It expresses so beautifully what I feel in my heart, but don’t seem to have the words to say. This is a definite keeper, and also something I’m printing to send to my missionary daughter. Thank you!!
I love that this was addressed with simple heartfelt testimony, and not attacks or name calling that I’ve been seeing so much of surrounding this issue, which has made me quite sad.
I love this, too. I find myself frustrated at how quickly an intelligent conversation or researching a question can devolve into hateful and spiteful rhetoric. I love the concept of no crumbs, only bread.
These are interesting thoughts. I’m curious though, how would you apply your analogy with black men (and even almost all men, in the Old Testament) being denied the priesthood and temple ordinances for much of our history? Or the story from Mark 7:25-30 when Christ gives “crumbs” to a gentile woman who would have otherwise been denied those blessings according to the church as it worked at the time? Or the fact that women currently make different covenants than men in the temple, and receive different promises? I’m not trying to be contentious- I am genuinely interested to understand if you see a way that these situations don’t represent “crumbs” for the time being.
I do believe that ultimately everyone has full access to the bread of life. But it seems there is ample evidence in history that different people have different amounts of access to God’s blessings (bread) according to the structure of God’s church at any given point in history.
Just because certain blessings are withheld for a time, doesn’t mean God loves or cares about you less or withhold access to any blessing. If you look at the broad history, the Priesthood has not been on the earth for most of the past 2000 years– for anyone. I’m not saying the Priesthood is (or is not) a blessing women will get someday– that will only happen if it is the best thing for women in the church (and he only knows that). What I am saying is what President Monson said to the German Saints prior to the fall of communism and building of the Frieberg Temple: “If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other [set of circumstances] will be yours.”
So there is no place for inferiority in this work: God loves us all and will reward us all in the very best way as we remain true and faithful. What is that reward? “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
God doesn’t give crumbs? Matthew 8, from lds.org:
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not asent but unto the lost sheep of the house of bIsrael.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to adogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
JH, I chose the metaphor of the crumbs deliberately. Yes, I truly believe that God does not give stones or crumbs. Only bread. I think the Canaanite woman knew that, which is why the Lord was so moved by her faith.
Kelsey, I think Bread is all about the perfect character of God and the eternal nature of His blessings available through the Atonement. And I think faith is all about trusting in that, because His eternal nature and blessings transcend current circumstances or trials. So rather than pity the Canaanite woman for what she didn’t have, I look at her as an example of someone who looked to her Master with unwavering faith (all the more amazing given the circumstances of her day) and had wholeness brought into her life. Bread.
I posted this resource in a comment on a post from June, but wanted to post it hear as well. This article was very helpful for me to read, and I think it might be helpful to many others. http://www.fairlds.org/fair-conferences/2012-fair-conference/2012-to-do-the-business-of-the-church-a-cooperative-paradigm
Do woman have the ability, talent, capacity, time, education, experience, and heart to serve leadership positions in the church that have been assigned to men? OF COURSE they do! Are women lessor because they are not asked to serve in certain leadership positions? OF COURSE NOT! Can a man influence a child in the same way as his/her mother? NO! Can he still love, provide, protect, teach, influence his children? OF COURSE, but not the same way as a mother can! No matter how hard men work to change the natural capacities as a woman, they won’t be able to change what God created. Why is it then that men are called to serve in capacities that women are not asked to serve? ASK the PERFECT ONE, it is His church. If more people would follow the pattern of prayer and communication with God they would not be asking mortal men to answer a question only a Perfect God knows the answer. In an attempt to demonstrate love, respect, and care, mortal men attempt to explain what God has put in place, and they fall short. Bottom line, stop the contention…spend time asking God, your heart will be filled with what you need.
Thank you for this article. I have never had any problem accepting that the Priesthood is a part of men’s role in God’s work and that we women just have different roles. When I think about what God DID give us women, the power to carry and give birth to new life, the Priesthood just pales in comparison (no disrespect meant to the Priesthood at all). I feel sorry for men because they are denied this amazing gift that God has given just to us women. Would I trade with them? NO WAY!!
People need to remember that it isn’t the Church or Church leaders who have made the decision to give the Priesthood only to men. It is GOD who has made this decision. Why do so many people lately seem to want to counsel God in this matter?
Michael & Mormonwomen- thanks for the responses! I understand what you’re saying now.